Progressive Web App - PWA for Magento 2: Pros & Cons
Some people think that Progressive Web App (PWA) is still a website under an app-shell and has all strong power of an app. In fact, PWA is a web app that was built using common web technologies in order to deliver similar app experiences to mobile users. Regardless of the type of your website, you can find PWA beneficial in many ways. For Magento 2 e-commerce websites, in particular, PWA can make a great contribution to improving the shopping experience of customers who often use mobile devices and stimulating more purchases. However, almost everything has two sides, that’s why we would like to discuss both pros and cons of PWA for Magento 2 in this article.
Pros of PWA for Magento 2
1/ Easy to approach the huge number of mobile users
On one hand, more and more online shoppers today prefer using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to opening their desktops or laptops. On the other hand, the majority of the purchasers are still likely to visit online stores by accessing the websites on their browsers rather than the native apps. In general, the users are only motivated to download and use the app if they buy from that store regularly - every week or month.
As a result, you can have a Magento website that welcomes a lot of traffic from mobile devices but it’s difficult to optimize it for the mobile experience. Or, you can develop a Magento native app that offers better user experience but it’s not easy to persuade the customers to use it.
Fortunately, PWA for Magento 2 was built so as to address both of the above issues - keeping the door of your website traffic while bringing about convenient app-like “look and feel” for users. More specifically, when visiting the store on the browser, the users will get a popup asking them to add the web app to their home screen. There is no need to search and download the app from any app store.
2/ Enhance user experience for not only mobile users but also desktop users
If you integrate PWA with your website by installing Magento 2 PWA extensions, you might not see the difference on your desktop display. However, if you develop your PWA using Magento 2 PWA Studio tools, or use advanced Magento 2 PWA integration solutions, your Magento frontend will be replaced by the PWA storefront that brings about amazing experience for your desktop users.
Instead of reloading the pages every time when you move to another page, you will only see lightning Ajax load with the header is fixed. See PWA for Magento 2 demo to understand how it works.
For mobile users, needless to say, Magento 2 Progressive Web App can deliver a wide range of benefits from the quick shortcut on the home screen, fast page load, push notifications, offline mode, low data consumption, easy update (just refresh the page), and so on.
3/ Take less time of development compared to native apps
To target mobile users by offering the native apps, you must develop two separate apps - one for Android, and another one for iOS. As a result, it will double your time (from at least 6 months) and effort to build those apps. For large Magento e-commerce stores, it can take over a year to finish the development process.
On the contrary, since PWA in Magento 2 can work cross-platform, you just need to build a single product to serve all potential customers regardless of the devices they use. In general, it will take 3-5 months to convert a Magento website to a Progressive Web App, depending on the expected design, the current custom functions and extensions on the site, etc.
4/ Get more while investing less...
As you might know, the native apps are always expensive to acquire, even when you just want to develop only one native app (for either Android or iOS operating system). Moreover, it will also be costly to have your native apps supported and maintained.
Conversely, developing Progressive Web App for Magento 2 websites can help you save a lot of money from development and maintenance while delivering similar results.
Furthermore, since the users can approach PWA instantly when they visit the website on their browsers, you can cut a significant cost of the app marketing (to persuade the buyers to download the app).
5/ Easy to update and maintain the performance
For the developers, they just need to fix bugs and make the changes on a single codebase to improve PWA’s performance.
For the Magento store owners, instead of hiring two different teams for apps support and maintenance, they just need to hire reliable Magento PWA developers to make sure their PWA run smoothly all the time.
For the customers, it does not take their time to enter app stores and get the updates for every app like the native ones, just refreshing the page the enjoy the latest version of their PWA.
Cons of PWA for Magento 2
Besides a lot of strengths, there are several limitations of Magento 2 Progressive Web App that you should consider before upgrading your site:
1/ Support limited features on iOS devices
As mentioned in the previous part, when visiting the website on mobile devices, the user will be invited to add the PWA to their home screen. Nonetheless, it’s only for Android devices. For iOS devices (iPhone, iPad), there is no popup for the users to click on, they have to tap on the share button and then “Add to Home Screen”.
To address this issue, we can add a popup to give the users a short instruction about how to add the PWA to their homescreen as the following example:
2/ Need to improve offline mode feature
Offline mode is one of the most impressive features of a PWA for Magento 2, but in fact, it might not be as powerful as some people expect. This is how it works: for the pages that you visited, you can still view them even when the Internet connection is interrupted. This also means that without the network connection, you can’t visit the pages that you haven’t accessed - like other traditional mobile apps.
3/ Probably find it hard to find quality Magento PWA developers
Another constraint for creating Progressive Web Apps for Magento is that it might difficult for the merchants to find the PWA developers. You must look for reliable developers who are excellent in both Magento 2 and PWA development.
Up to now, there are just several Magento 2 PWA integration service providers that you can take into consideration. Among these agencies, Tigren appears to be the most prestigious one with over 6 years of experience in Magento website development. More importantly, they offer some special products and services related to PWA, from the basic Magento 2 PWA extension to the advanced Magento 2 PWA integration solution (using their PWA for Magento 2 base theme).
If you hire developers from other Magento agencies, they will have to build your PWA from scratch using Magento 2 PWA Studio. Otherwise, if you use Tigren’s PWA integration service, they will only customize their ready-made base theme (developed using Magento 2 PWA Studio, including advanced PWA storefront and core API) to meet your specific needs. As a result, you will save a huge amount of time and effort for PWA development.
To get an exact quote for your PWA project, you should contact Tigren team.