Testing a PWA – How does it benefit your business?

What is a PWA?

A Progressive Web Application (PWA) is a mobile site that contains most benefits that a typical mobile app would have as well as most of the potential functions. They can have offline access, full-screen functionality, push notifications and a full interface that the users would expect with mobile apps.  One of the most important questions when dealing with PWA’s is the simplicity in development vs fast user interaction balance is a key feature of a Progressive Web Application.

Having a more robust and faster experience on mobile is important to Google’s core product. Successfully creating a website that performs like a mobile app will help with Google SERP as page speed is a key factor. A PWA on its own will now affect the ranking but when implemented correctly with fast user interaction and load times it will help you jump towards that number 1 spot.

Why use a PWA?

Using Progressive Web Applications for your business can help you reach a wider audience. It is designed to work for all users. It doesn’t matter what platforms users are on and since it is responsive to fit different screen sizes it is instantly accessible by a large audience. There are two major rivals that also compete in this space. Mobile Websites and Native Apps, PWAs provide some significant benefits over the other two. In comparison mobile sites freeze or crash more often than PWAs, which rarely do so. Unlike a mobile site, a progressive web application will create an icon on the home screen to serve as a reminder to users.

A PWA opposed to a native app carries a lower risk. Native apps are costly to create and if they do not get used regularly, they are normally deleted. The difference is that a PWA has lower costs and can offer app capabilities for lower risk. They are easier to share as users can share the URL the same as a regular link. PWA’s can also be installed directly from the browser in just a view clicks and they don’t need to visit the app store. They are also cheaper fixed costs because a PWA will cover both iOS and Android reducing development costs of developing two extremely similar applications.

How to test a PWA?

The development of progressive web apps has increased dramatically recently. You may be aware of their existence and how they work but do you know how to test them? The testing of PWA’s requires a different approach. The two main components of PWA’s are:

The Web App Manifest- It is a JSON file a developer can use to control the way the app displays to the end-user.

Service Worker- A JavaScript file that handles user interactions with the app. It is independent of the app or webpage. It allows the support of offline work mode, push notifications and background synchronization.

There are several areas that should be covered by QA teams when testing progressive web applications. The main areas for QA engineers to ensure are up to standard is here:

  1. Safety – It is essential that PWA’s run over https. It is a major concern when it comes to Progressive Web Apps. In order to test safety you can use Google’s Lighthouse PWA Analysis. It runs an audit on your site and will generate a report that will help build a positive app-like user experience.
  2. Offline performance – The main convenience for PWA’s is their ability to work without any internet connection. It does not require all pages to run offline but just the main ones.
  3. Push Notifications – This is a common function with PWA’s. A tester should keep in mind to make sure the notifications are clear and asking permission from the user.
  4. Cross-platform tests – It is important for testers to check PWA’s performance across multiple sites such as Chrome, Safari, and Firefox.
  5. Responsive Web Pages – Ensure that the web application is responsive across all desktop and mobile devices.

How can it benefit my business?

1. Speed and Accessibility

All studies and sales funnels tell you that easier and faster works. The faster your site is the more engaging it is for users. In general, a PWA is likely to be fast as they use modern development frameworks. Your website is also accessible when the internet is not which is a huge benefit.

2. Better User Flow

For Native apps, users are required to visit the store, find the app, download it, install it and accept permissions all before using your app. Progressive web application flow starts when a user clicks on the URL and uses the PWA. Essentially a two-step process is less likely to lose customers during the funnel.

3. Better Conversions

The overall improved user experience from Progressive Web Apps end up in higher conversion rates. Conversion rates drop by 4.42% between each additional second between 0-5 seconds of load time. It increases average page times, conversion rates and can save abandoned carts with push notifications.