7 min read

Modern day web development is getting harder. Users are looking for relentless, responsive and reliable browsing. They want faster results and richer experiences. In addition to this, Modern apps need to be designed so as to support a large number of ecosystems from mobile web, desktop web, Native ioS, Native Android, Instant articles etc. Every new technology which launches has its own USP. The need for today is combining the features of the various popular mobile tech in the market and reaping their benefits as a combination.

Acknowledging the standalones

In a study by google it was found that
53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load.

This calls for making page loads faster and effortless. A cure for this illness is in the form of AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages, the brainwork of Google and Twitter. They are blazingly fast web pages purely meant for readability and speed. Essentially they are HTML, most of CSS, but no JavaScript. So heavy duty things such as images are not loaded until they are scrolled into view. In AMPs, links are pre-rendered before you click on them. This is made possible using the AMP caching infrastructure. It automatically caches and calls on the content to be displayed atop the AMP and that is why it feels instant. Because the developers almost never write JavaScript, it leads to a cheap, yet fairly interactive deployment model.

However, AMPs are useful for a narrow range of content. They have limited functionality. Users, on the other hand, are also looking for reliability and engagement. This called for the development of what is known as Progressive web apps. Proposed by Google in 2015, PWAs combine the best of mobile and web applications to offer users an enriching experience. Think of Progressive web apps as a website that acts and feels like a complete app. Once the user starts exploring the app within the browser, it progressively becomes smarter, faster and makes user experience richer.  Application Shell Architecture and Service Workers are two core drivers that enable PWA to offer speed and functionality. Key benefits that PWA offers over traditional mobile sites include push notifications, highly responsive UI, all types of hardware access which includes access to camera & microphones, and low data usage to name a few.

The concoction: PWA + AMP

  • AMPs are fast and easy to deploy.
  • PWAs are engaging and reliable.
  • AMPs are effortless, more retentive and instant.
  • PWAs supports dynamic content, provides push notifications and web manifests.
  • AMPs work on user acquisition.
  • PWAs enhance user experiences.

They seemingly work perfectly well on different levels. But users want to Start quick and Stay quick. They want the content they view to make the first hop blazingly fast, but then provide richer pages by amazing reliability and engagement. This called for combining the features of both into one and this was how Progressive web AMPs was born. PWAMP, as the developers call it, combines the capabilities of native app ecosystem with the reach of the mobile Web. Let us look at how exactly it functions and does the needful.

The Best of Both Worlds: Reaping benefits of both

AMPs fall back when you have dynamic content. Lack of JavaScript means dynamic functionality such as Payments, or push notifications are unavailable. PWA, on the other hand, can never be as fast as an AMP on the first click. Progressive Web AMPs combines the best features of both by making the first click super fast and then rendering subsequent PWA pages/content. So AMP opens a webpage in the blink of an eye with zero time lag and then the subsequent swift transition to PWA leads to beautiful results with dynamic functionalities. So it starts fast and builds up as users browse further. Now, this merger is made possible using three different ways.

AMP as PWA: AMP pages in combination with PWA features

This involves enabling PWA features in AMP pages. The user clicks on the link, it boots up fast and you see an AMP page which loads from the AMP cache. On clicking subsequent links, the user moves away from AMP cache to the site’s domain(origin). The website continues using the AMP library, but because it is supported on origin now, service workers become active, making it possible to prompt users (by web manifests) to install a PWA version of their website for a progressive experience.

AMP to PWA: AMP pages utilized for a smooth transition to PWA features

In PWAs the service workers and app shells kick in only after the second step. Hence AMPs can be a perfect entry point for your apps whereas the user discovers content at fast rates with AMP pages, the service worker of the PWA installs in the background and the user is instantly upgraded to PWA in subsequent clicks which can add push notifications, add reminders, web manifests etc. So basically the next click is also going to be instant.

AMP in PWA: AMP as a data source for PWA

AMPs are easy and safe to embed. As they are self-contained units, they are easily embeddable in websites. Hence they can be utilized as a data source for PWAs.  AMPs make use of Shadow AMP, which can be introduced in your PWA. This AMP library, loads in the top level page. It can amplify the portions in the content as decided by the developer and connect to a whole load of documents for rendering them out. As the AMP library is compiled and loaded only once for, the entire PWA, it would, in turn, reduce backend implementations and client complexity.

How are they used in the real world scenario:

Shopping

PWAMP offers a high engagement feature to the shoppers. Because AMP sites are automatically kept at the top by Google search engines, AMP attracts the customers to your sites by the faster discovery of the apps. The PWA keeps them thereby allowing a rich, immersive, and app-like shopping experience that keeps the shoppers engaged. Lancôme, the L’Oréal Paris cosmetics brand is soon combining AMP with their existing PWA. Their PWA had led to a 17% year over year increase in the mobile sales. With the addition of AMP, they aim to build lightweight mobile pages that load as fast as possible on smartphones to make the site faster and more engaging.

Travel

PWAMP features allow users to browse through a list of hotels which instantly loads up at the first click. The customer may then book a hotel of his choice in the subsequent click which upgrades him to the PWA experience. Wego, is a Singapore-based travel service. Its PWAMP has achieved a load time for new users at 1.6 seconds and 1 second for returning customers. This has helped to increase site visits by 26%, reduce bounce rates by 20% and increase conversions by 95%, since its launch.

News and Media

Progressive Web AMPs are also highly useful in the news apps. As the user engages with content using AMP, PWA downloads in the background creating frictionless, uninterrupted reading. Washington Post has come up with one such app where users can experience the Progressive Web App when reading an AMP article and clicking through to the PWA link when it appears in the menu. In addition, their PWA icon can be added to a user’s home screen through the phone’s browser.

All the above examples showcase how the concoction proves to always be fast no matter what. Progressive Web AMPs are progressively enhanced with just one backend-the AMP to rule them all meaning that deploy targets are reduced considerably. So all ecosystems namely web, Android, and iOS are supported with just thin layers of extra code. Thus making them highly beneficial in cases of constrained engineering resources or reduced infrastructure complexity. In addition to this, Progressive Web AMPs are highly useful when a site has a lot of static content on individual pages, such as travel, media, news etc. All these statements assert the fact that PWAMP has the power to provide a full mobile web experience with an artful and strategic combination of the AMP and PWA technologies. To know more about how to build your own Progressive Web AMPs, you can visit the official developer’s website.

Read Next:

Top frameworks for building your Progressive Web Apps (PWA)
5 reasons why your next app should be a PWA (progressive web app)
Build powerful progressive web apps with Firebase


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