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WordPress Now Supports Progressive Web Apps

WordPress contributors are working diligently to add support for progressive web apps (PWA) into the core. A new PWA feature plugin is available now through WordPress.org, piloted by teams from Google, Automattic, and XWP.

WordPress Progressive Web Apps Benefits

Progressive web apps are applications that run through the web, but offer the prompt app-like UX from a mobile browser. Google describes their qualities and characteristics this way:

  • More Reliable: Load instantly and never show the downasaur, even in uncertain network conditions
  • Work Faster: Respond quickly to user interactions with silky smooth animations and no janky scrolling
  • Drive Engagement: Feel like a natural app on the device, with an immersive user experience

The plugin provides support for the technologies that PWAs need, such as HTTPS, a Web App Manifest, and Service Workers. These technologies provide foundations for functions such as mobile home screen icon, push notifications, offline content, background syncing, and other PWA features.

What are WordPress Progressive Web Apps?

The purpose of the feature plugin is to offer curating capabilities to PWAs that will be merged into the core. The goal is to merge them piece by piece. Core tickets are already available for addressing support for service workers and web app manifests, in addition to producing improvements to HTTPS.

According to XWP CTO Weston Ruter: “This PWA feature plugin is intended to equip and facilitate other plugins which implement PWA features.” It’s not intended to negate any existing plugins with these features, but rather to allow such plugins (and themes) to work together seamlessly and expand upon them.”

The first release of this plugin adds initial support for allowing plugin and theme developers to register scripts for service workers through wp_register_service_worker(), and support for web app manifests. In addition, the plugin has an API for detecting the availability of HTTPS.

“A next step for service workers in the PWA feature plugin is to integrate Workbox to provide a declarative WordPress PHP abstraction for managing the caching strategies for routes, with support for detecting conflicts,” Ruter said.

Previously, app-like experiences were available only for sites and services using their own native mobile apps. However, native apps can be expensive to develop and maintain. PWAs use the greater web universe as their foundation and are quick to build and launch. The make content more accessible on mobile with or without an internet connection. Not only that, but it’s far easier to tap a home screen icon rather than cut and paste a URL into a search bar. This increases the likelihood that users will engage with their favorite sites.

WordPress Progressive Web Apps Case Studies

PWA Stats is a website that includes specific case studies on the performance of progressive web apps focusing on engagement, performance, and conversion. Several of these persuasive examples include:

  • Tinder cut load times from 11.91 seconds to 4.69 seconds with their new PWA. The PWA is 90% smaller than Tinder’s native Android app. User engagement is up across the board on the PWA.
  • Grand Velas Riviera Maya resort increased its Black Friday conversion rate by 53% due to its progressive web app’s speed and notifications.
  • Trivago saw an increase of 150% for people who add its PWA to the home screen. Increased engagement led to a 97% increase in clickouts to hotel offers. Users who go offline while browsing can continue to access the site and 67% continue to browse the site when they come back online.
  • Pinterest rebuilt their mobile site as a PWA and core engagements increased by 60%. They also saw a 44% increase in user-generated ad revenue and time spent on the site has increased by 40%.

WordPress PWA support will enable the theme and plugin ecosystems to integrate and provide visitors with more engaging methods to connect with businesses. As the marketplace builds upon this core support, site owners will be able to offer better UX for mobile with a more streamlined adoption process.

Check out our last blog: The Latest Innovation from WordPress: Gutenberg

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