Magento Design: Getting More Flexibility with PWAs

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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Given its open-source nature, Magento design concepts are constantly pushing the boundaries of what eCommerce sites look like and how they function.

Moreover, there is a new technology that is currently generating quite a bit of buzz that aims at accomplishing the same goals, and Magento is leaning into its progress in a big way.

Progressive web applications (PWAs) are becoming an increasingly prominent implementation across industries. For instance, as the benefits that progressive web apps display in redefining the mobile experience become more apparent, major companies such as Twitter are investing in PWAs for its mobile site. Moreover, other tech giants such as Facebook, Pinterest, Uber and other notable names are also busy diving into the PWA arena.

However, it isn’t just those in tech that are adopting PWAs as massive media outlets like The Washington Post, Forbes and BBC are utilizing progressive web apps to provide a superior user experience for delivering content across device types.

As far as Visiture is concerned, it’s how progressive web apps will drive the future of eCommerce that we find most exciting.

PWA has tons of advantages

Given that Visiture is an eCommerce marketing agency that specializes in Magento design and optimization, we recognize the massive potential that PWAs contain for online retailers as this platform merges the best features and abilities of native applications and traditional websites to create an extremely familiar experience that wields tons of novel advantages.

So, why exactly are so many businesses having progressive web apps developed for their brands?

Why Create a PWA?

As it stands, PWAs can positively impact nearly all eCommerce marketing KPIs, including performance, engagement, time-on-site, lead generation, re-engagement, conversions and practically everything else.

The reason for this is that progressive web apps provide a lightweight, lightning-fast experience for consumers that is far more desirable and engaging than those offered by native apps.

As far as users are concerned, PWAs elevate the potential for engagement as these apps do not need to be downloaded. This is an important point given that most consumers download zero apps per month.

Moreover, as a 2018 Google and Heart+Mind Strategies app shopping experience study highlighted:

People will delete apps quote

“63% of people say that when a brand forces them to download an app to access a deal, they will typically delete it shortly thereafter.”

However, those that leverage Magento design to build a PWA need not worry about scant engagement rates that result from application woes as PWAs require no download or installation. Instead, users can save an icon to their home screen, which will open a browser that connects to the store, thereby enhancing re-engagement rates.

Additionally, these apps work offline, as well. With PWAs, the information is stored on the device until an internet connection is reestablished. After a device reconnects, activities that took place while a user was offline are sent to the site, meaning that there is nothing preventing shoppers from completing a purchase, thereby increasing eCommerce conversions and time-on-site.

Flipkart PWA

Exemplifying this example, when Flipkart launched its PWA, the company saw a 70 percent increase in conversions and three times more time-on-site, among other successes.

Flipkart PWA

Moreover, much like eCommerce websites that leverage Magento design templates, PWAs are responsive, which makes them instantly optimized for a variety of screen sizes.

As far as awareness is concerned, app discoverability is notoriously abysmal, meaning that the chances of creating a successful app are nearly nil. However, progressive web apps once again outshine their traditional counterparts as PWAs can be found through the SERPs like a standard website, thereby making them superior for eCommerce SEO strategies and lead generation purposes.

What’s more, Magento design agencies and merchants who leverage the platform have a competitive edge in the arena thanks to the Magento PWA Studio.

Magento Design and the PWA Studio

At its heart, the Magento PWA Studio is poised to utterly transform how eCommerce retailers operate on the mobile web.

PWAs enable users to simply access the site via a mobile home screen icon, as mentioned earlier. While the destination users access is, in effect, still just a website, it provides all sorts of app-like functionality to enhance the mobile experience.

Speaking to the standard app store model, retailers that currently wish to develop a native application for their online outlet must substantially increase their development efforts as websites and applications require entirely different tools and standards.

However, with the Magento PWA Studio, Magento design professionals can build a PWA on top of Magento 2, thereby providing merchants with all the benefits offered by progressive web apps with their traditional online store.

As Magento states about the PWA Studio:

Magento2 PWA

“The Magento PWA Studio project is a set of developer tools that allow for the development, deployment, and maintenance of a PWA storefront on top of Magento 2. It uses modern tools and libraries to create a build system and framework that adheres to the Magento principle of extensibility.

This is revolutionary as it enables smaller sized eCommerce companies to roll PWAs into their company offerings. For instance, award-winning Magento design companies like Visiture are already extremely familiar with the Magento platform. With the introduction of the PWA Studio, our team becomes enabled to create PWAs for our clients without having to specialize in application development principles and methodologies.

This offering from Magento not only saves time for developers who already understand the company’s offerings, but it also saves clients financial resources.

Magento’s PWA Studio lowers the potential risks and costs involved with development. Native applications can be extremely costly to create. Moreover, users who have little need to purchase a retailer’s items regularly aren’t likely to keep the company’s app on their phone for long, thereby making app development a considerable gamble.

For instance, online retailers that offer a wide selection of furniture and home appliances are probably not going to generate much in the way of frequent recurrent visitors. Therefore, creating an application would likely be a waste of resources.

However, for such a brand, a PWA is more suited to their needs as the extensive product catalog can slow the site down and make for a poor mobile experience. Through the development of a progressive web app, the brand can produce a similar experience to an application while lowering costs associated with the initial investment, marketing and maintenance as a single shop is all that needs to be developed.

The Magento PWA Studio opens a whole new world of possibilities for both online merchants and eCommerce developers.

How the PWA Studio Affects Magento Design

While a Magento design with a PWA overlay enhances the customer experience in a variety of ways, this offering also alters the creator experience in many positive ways, as well.

From the developer’s standpoint, PWA Studio provides a modernized front-end architecture that enables creators to build a PWA on top of Magento, while also managing all channels through a single code base, deployment and application. PWA Studio also features a new, PWA-optimized theme dubbed Venia from which developers can build.

The PWA Studio utilizes contemporary browsing features like service workers, which operate behind the scenes and are responsible for drawing notifications, cache material and store data, as well as a web app manifest. Moreover, PWA Studio also calls for GraphQL, which Magento 2.3 implemented.

However, outside of all the advantages listed herein, progressive web apps still feature a slew of other benefits for Magento design teams and online retailers alike.

Other Ways PWAs Benefit Magento Design

PWA must compete against both mobile websites and native applications. However, the technology has shown substantive benefits over each platform, including:

Enhance Browsing Experience

PWAs are the only way for retailers to tout a Magento design that enables customers to view, filter and sort products without page reloads.

PWA increases page speed

Moreover, progressive web apps feature much faster response times than the average eCommerce site, thereby increasing page speeds for such Magento sites. While there are a variety of factors that contribute to the quicker PWA experience, the aforementioned services workers play a significant role in this enhancement.

However, it is worth noting that the super-fast load times come with subsequent user visits as the site’s information is cached in the browser and app.

Full Screen Mode

Despite the fact that when users access a PWA they are doing so through a browser, there is no browser URL bar or navigation tools on the page. This gives PWAs a more traditional app-like appearance that generates a more engaging environment and cleaner user experience.

Decreased User Friction

When speaking to the user experience of accessing a PWA, there is a world of difference when compared to native applications. With a traditional app, users must somehow find out about the app, go to the app store, find the application, wait for it to download and then they can begin interacting.

However, with PWAs shoppers can organically discover the store through a regular Google search, click on it and launch right into the experience without any added steps.

Moreover, through this kind of interaction, consumers need not concern themselves with using additional data to download the app, thereby making the experience much smoother and more natural.

Cut out the app stores

No More Middle-Man

On the retailer end of things, developers can effectively cut out the app stores. This detachment is great as these destinations force creators to register an account with the app store and pay download fees and charges on in-app purchases, not to mention the changing app store rules that sellers have no control over.

With a PWA built with Magento design components, sellers can cut out the app store entirely and just surface in the SERPs like normal.

Increased Flexibility

With PWAs, retailers can provide shoppers with experiences that are nearly indistinguishable from native app interactions. For instance, through this type of Magento design, merchants can deploy push notifications, microinteractions, access to smartphone elements like cameras and other unique offerings that can create an engaging and memorable experience.

Moreover, PWAs can also manage shopper info, online orders and loyalty programs.

These elements, in conjunction with all the other benefits PWAs offer (such as discoverability), provide a far more flexible framework than native apps or mobile websites can provide.

Better Security

Visiture is big on digital security. It is for this reason that we favor PWAs in the Magento design process as to enable its functionality, PWAs are served through HTTPS portals.

Since HTTPS is necessary for eCommerce stores, and PWAs automatically utilize this encryption technology, consumers can have greater confidence when handing over their credit card information for an online transaction.

Ability to Make Quick Alterations

One of the most significant benefits of utilizing a PWA for Magento design is that retailers need not send new builds to app stores when adjustments to the platform are made, as is the case with native apps.

For instance, if the application housed a critical bug that required immediate resolution, developers would need to find the issue, fix it and send the new build to Google or Apple. Then, merchants would have to wait for the app store to review the new build and update it in the app store.

However, given the nature of PWAs, developers can launch patches instantaneously.

PWA Stats

PWAs Are Ideal for Business Outcomes

As has been shown time and again, brands that launch a PWA see significant returns on their investment. For example:

There are plenty of other examples similar to the results achieved by these businesses. The fact is that PWAs cannot be ignored when it comes to business outcomes.

With the increased usage of progressive web applications, consumers and retailers alike will reap the benefits that this framework has to offer.

While native applications and mobile sites aren’t going away any time soon, the paradigm is shifting. In the coming years, this movement will reach a fever pitch as ever more eCommerce companies, media organizations and other industries continue to catch on to the abilities PWAs have in captivating consumers and providing a generous return on investment.

If your brand is interested in seeing what a progressive web app can do for its performance, reach out to Visiture’s Magento design experts for a free consultation.

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