Progressive Web Application – Magento’s Mobile eCommerce Redefined

Written by Jen on August 17, 2017

Do you think sites need Progressive Web Applications today?

Well, according to Magento’s latest news, the leader in digital commerce cloud innovation is thinking of introducing Progressive Web Application in the development of mobile commerce cloud solution.

PWA is a new standard used for building modern web experience. It’s fast and frictionless solution helps to drive more traffic, conversion rates, and revenue for a website. PWA uses the latest browser technology that works to mold a site’s accessibility to the web along with the presence of the mobile app.

That’s what makes the PWA high when it comes to blending the best features of a website with mobile applications, thereby giving away a responsive and glossy experience that of a native mobile app. It happens through the instant gratification of a mobile browser that also alleviates the hassle of downloading and installing new apps.

That gives your website the advantage of offering customers seamless app-like user experience, faster checkout process, and higher engagement. Time to look into detail into the Progressive Web Application and what works for it.

A PWA Website has Two Parts

  1. Application shell architecture
  2. Service works
  • Application Shell Architecture

The application shell architecture is the secret to a website’s good performance. It can make a site load faster; cache more quickly and dynamically helps to display content. That’s because a PWA site dynamically pulls the content through an API while keeping the UI local. The method of content display is incredibly fast, and merchants can display their website content to a user, almost without any content to display.

 

  • Service Works

Service workers are proxies lying between the website and the browser. The service worker calls for the intercept of things like asking a browser to do a particular thing and hijacking the responses received in return. So for example, if a user requests a copy of data, the website will save a copy of the data so that it can be produced again the next time anyone asks for it.

The loading speed decreases and the site can stream the content a thousand times without having to fetch it. But apart from that, the service works have a significant number of other functions that your website browser did not have previously, until now. These are –

  1. Background Sync – to update a user page or site even when no one is using the website
  2. Push Notifications – Whether it is notifying the user about the first-page update or informing a user about a new message that had just arrived, Progressive Web Application will tell you for everything that happens to your Magento store.
  3. Managing the Geolocation – The service worker can handle any device or hardware driven query data.
  4. Pre-fetching the Data – Allowing fast streaming of data like images in advance as we scroll further down the page.                                                                                                                                         

Features that Define a PWA site

Progressive Web Applications are –

  • Progressive – They can work seamless across all browsers. That’s because PWA is built using progressive enhancement as a core tenet.
  • Responsive – They are flexible and can fit into any device be it a mobile, desktop, tablet, etc.
  • Connectivity – PWA can work even when there is poor or no internet connection available. You can save your content later for functionality.
  • App-like UI – Using a PWA website offers an app-style interaction and navigation. That’s because the site stands on the app shell model.
  • Up-to-date – Thanks to the service worker update process, PWA websites are always up-to-date.
  • Safe and Secured – HTTPS prevents sites from being snooped thereby avoiding any tampering of content.
  • Discoverable – PWA sites are registered and identified as applications over browsers and search engines.
  • Re-engageable – Features like Push Notifications encourage re-engagement.
  • Installable – Easy installation on the computer home screen. It eliminates the need to visit the app store for any particular app.
  • Linkable – The websites are easily shareable via URLs and does not require merchants to go through any complex installation process.

Do You Need a PWA Website?

Some websites can do without the Progressive Web Application. But how do you understand what your website needs? Here’s a checklist of things that may indicate when a site needs a PWA.

  • If you have a website that requires regular content update, such as daily stock tickers, inventory level or rapidly changing prices.
  • Some audiences prefer pulling data down and browsing it in offline mode. Typical examples are – a blog publishing many articles, a news app, etc.
  • A website that features chat or comms platform require real-time notifications and push updates whenever new data gets added to a Magento store.
  • PWA is also applicable for users who are using supported browsers.

Are they Search Engine Friendly?

Now that you have understood the fundamentals behind a PWA website, time to look into how Google’s search engine page reacts to such websites.

Google search bots see a particular published page as a JavaScript site. A Progressive Web App makes use of the flexibility of JavaScript. Such that, the Google search bots identify and crawl a PWA website just like it would crawl a JavaScript or an AJAX site.  

However, developers need to be careful when they are trying to optimize a PWA site. Here are some recommendations highlighted by Google SEO for Progressive Web Applications

#1 – Avoid Googlebot Cloaking

Avoid redirecting your website to an ‘unsupported browser’ page. You can make your site content available to users with features such as ‘Feature Detection’ and ‘Progressive Environment’. You can even consider using a safe fallback or a polyfill where needed.

#2 – Use rel=canonical

When you are required to serve content through multiple URLs, rel=canonical will save you from duplicate content violations.

#3 – Avoid AJAX-crawling schemes for new websites

Implement traditional SEO rules in your URL structure. Although this might seem tricky, it is a necessary step to move forward.

Many PWA websites have a URL structure with a hashtag symbol. The Googlebot does not support index URLs with a # in them. That’s because the search engine will drop everything beyond the #. You can test your website URL using tools like Search Console’s Fetch and Render Tool. These tools will reveal how Google sees your page. Besides, the device does not support URLs with a # or #!.

Ensure that robots.txt does not block resources like JS frameworks and files, 3rd party APIs, server responses. If you are using tools like Fetch and Render to analyze your website, then these will list all your blocked resources as discovered.

If the resources are blocked or are temporarily unavailable, then try to ensure that the client-side code gracefully fails.

#4 – Limit the number of embedded resources

Especially the number of JS files and server responses that are required to render a page. If there are a high number of URLs, then it can result in timeouts and render without the resources being available. You can use reasonable HTTP for caching derivatives.

While using AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages, make sure that you use an actual sitemap file to indicate any changes made to your website.

Conclusion

Looking from a general point of view, PWA provides a whole new user experience to any e-commerce website. They can complement an existing website but does not hold much weight independently. However, your decision on whether or not to stick to PWA should depend largely on how users are interacting with your website to complete their session. Hopefully this blog will help you decide whether or not you need it on your website.

 

If you need any help with PWA or other Magento or website problems, give us a shout! We are Magento certified and have bags of experience working with different applications.