March 25, 2024

Magento PWA Essentials: Navigating the What, Why, and How

Nadya Bakhur

Researcher, Technical Writer

Magento (Adobe Commerce)

Magento PWA Decoded: a Comprehensive Guide
March 25, 2024

Magento PWA Essentials: Navigating the What, Why, and How

Nadya Bakhur

Researcher, Technical Writer

Magento (Adobe Commerce)

Magento PWA Decoded: a Comprehensive Guide

In October 2018, Magento released its 2.3 Beta version. It was one of the most expected editions in the field of e-commerce development due to the announced innovation – Magento PWA Studio. 

In this article, we overview the Magento 2 PWA benefits for e-commerce development and how it reshapedthe world of online commerce in these six years.

What is Magento PWA?

Magento PWA stands for progressive web applications based on Magento. Basically, Magento progressive web apps are Magento-based e-commerce websites that are designed to behave as native mobile apps, taking the utmost of their functionality but still remaining websites. 

PWAs on Magento help to improve the user experience when shopping from a mobile device without downloading any app on their smartphones. PWA-based stores offer your customers easy access to the catalog and order from any mobile device.

Why can passing to PWA play an essential role in e-commerce business development? Consider that the number of mobile users is growing constantly. It is forecasted to reach 7.49 billion by 2025:

There has been continuous growth in the number of mobile users, from 6.95 billion in 2020 to 7.49 billion forecasted in 2025.
Number of mobile users worldwide. Source.

Moreover, according to Statista, in 2023, up to 60% of all e-commerce sales worldwide were made from handheld gadgets. So, if you want to reach potential customers who prefer shopping from mobile devices, you need to have a web store that is convenient to use from a smartphone.

For store owners looking for a smooth experience on mobile, Magento PWA might be a feasible alternative to a separate mobile app development. By accessing Magento PWA Studio, you can create a progressive web app on the system youalready use, applying the available tools. Moreover, it is possible to migrate the existing solution to Magento 2 PWA, but only when using the latest platform versions (starting from Magento 2.3.X).

PWA studio for Magento offers all the essential tools for creating, deploying, and managing a PWA Storefront for both Magento Open Source and Adobe Commerce editions. The users can develop custom components for storefronts and build Magento 2 PWA extensions.

What makes a Magento progressive web app so outstanding? The quick answer is, you can avoid using the Magento default front end which can slow down your site when overloaded with customizations. PWAs on Magento are much faster and don't require Knockout.js.

Below, we will overview the pros and cons of Magento-based progressive web apps.

Benefits & Drawbacks of a Progressive Web App on Magento  

Anton Chernyshev, NEKLO LLC Product Manager, highlights Magento PWA's headless nature and increased user experience.

Passing on to a progressive web app on Magento benefits for customers and business owners.

Magento PWA benefits

  • Speed. Thanks to the HTML output, a Magento progressive web application loads very quickly. From the moment of loading until the first element or image appears, usually no more than 1 second is needed.
  • Adaptability. Progressive web apps on Magento adapt to any user environment. They work on almost all possible systems, devices, and browsers. This is achieved through a single source code base.
  • Flexibility. Magento 2 PWA allows creation of custom front-ends, tailoring them to the specific business needs — all without the constraints of Magento 2 platform. Flexibility creates a unique user experience and helps you to stand out from the competition.
  • Freedom from app stores. Magento or Adobe Commerce PWAs do not need to be hosted in app stores as they can be accessed directly from browsers. This saves the user's time and your budget for app store marketing.
  • Offline mode. Users do not need to be connected to the Internet for some operations. Caching allows the PWA to work offline even if the connection to the server is lost and then syncs all information when connected. This advantage provides a seamless shopping experience and increases customer satisfaction.
  • Storage space. According to recent research, the main reason for deleting applications is the necessity to free up the storage space. For example, an average application needs 20 to 50 MB of storage space. The weight of highly loaded ones can reach up to 300 MB, while an installed Magento 2 PWA needs no more than 1 MB.
  • Budget savings. Magento progressive web application will function on all platforms, and its development will cost less than creating a native mobile app.
  • App-like feel. PWAs provide a native app-like experience with smooth navigation and push notifications, increasing user engagement and satisfaction.
  • Improved conversion rates through faster page loading time and enhanced user experience. Additionally, PWAs enable sending targeted push notifications directly to users' devices, promoting new products, special offers, and abandoned cart reminders.
  • Indexing by search engines and more organic traffic — PWAs are generally SEO-friendly, meaning they can rank higher in search engine results pages, possibly leading to more organic traffic. On the contrary, robots do not index native mobile applications.

Possible challenges that Magento PWA can bring

  • Performance issues. While Magento PWAs perform betterwith low or no Internet connection and help improve the loading speed significantly, they cannot still integrate into the users' devices as smoothly as the native apps can. The Magento PWA's UX is simplified and unified to be used on all possible devices.
  • Limited access for  iOS devices. Not only iOS native app preference but also turbulence of PWA usage for EU iOS users do not favor Magento progressive web app usage.
  • High battery consumption. Using JavaScript instead of Java, progressive web apps on Magento can drain a phone's battery faster and consume more resources.

Magento PWA Architecture

PWA components are service worker, web app manifest, TSL, API, and app shell architecture. PWA's distinguishing qualities are reliability, rapidity, and engagement.

To build a Magento progressive web application, first of all, let’s get acquainted with the following essential PWA components:

  • Web app manifest – a JSON file defining your PWA’s metadata. It includes the information about the app’s name, icons, color schemes, etc.
  • Service workers – JavaScript files that empower the PWAs to function offline, caching static files, requests, sending push notifications, etc.
  • Application shell – a static HTML, CSS, and JavaScript page. It includes key components of UI design, allowing your users to see the page structure when the content has not yet been loaded.
  • Cache – a technique that stores data locally on a user's device for faster access, eliminating the need to constantly retrieve the data from its original source.
  • Transport layer security (TLS) is a cryptographic protocol necessary to ensure security and provide communication between servers and web apps. This is particularly important as to complete an order, the users have to insert personal and financial information. That is why, using an HTTPS connection is a must to secure the users' sensitive data.
  • Application programming interface (API) – a back- and frontend connector. Magento provides an opportunity to use GraphQL API for your PWA.

Successful use of all the components helps you to create a progressive web app on Magento that offers exceptional performance in the following qualities:

  • Reliability – the application loads and displays immediately, regardless of the status and quality of the network connection.
  • Rapidity – data exchange over the network occurs quickly; the UI is smooth and responsive.
  • Engagement – makes the users’ experience with the application comfortable and enjoyable, encouraging them to return to the app. 

These three qualities make the key difference between a native mobile app and a website. Opting for Magento PWAs, you get an opportunity to mitigate these differences and get an e-commerce website similar to a mobile app in terms of look and feel. 

How to Develop a Magento PWA?

There are several paths to take when building a Magento PWA, varying depending on the level of freedom you prefer, your e-commerce business goals, and your budget.

PWA development approaches include using Magento PWA studio, customizing 3-rd-party Magento PWA themes, custom development, and hiring professional Magento PWA developers.

The most successful approaches to Magento PWA development include:

  • Selecting the toolkit offered by the Magento PWA Studio;
  • Using and customization of the third-party Magento PWA themes;
  • Custom Magento PWA development from scratch.

Below, we’ll overview all these approaches to help you select the most appropriate one.

Opting for Magento PWA Studio

One of the fastest ways to get a fully functioning Magento progressive web application is by selecting the PWA Studio for Magento. It is a toolkit developed by the official Magento team to simplify the progressive web app development on Magento 2. This tool guarantees you will not have code issues, and your PWA will run smoothly, thanks to absolute compliance with the Magento development standards.

PWA Studio Magento doesn't imply the obligatory use of all its solutions. It is flexible, and you can use only the necessary tools for your particular project. 

Moreover, Magento PWA Studio offers the app's architecture out-of-the-box, which means you will be safe from coding errors. It provides a fully configured app builder with ready-made website elements that you can easily customize.

Finally, service workers required for the PWA development are provided and set up in the PWA Studio, simplifying and accelerating the overall development process. 

Use and customization of the third-party Magento PWA themes

Using a Magento PWA theme, you can quickly turn your e-commerce website into a progressive web application thanks to existing web pages and tools. Such a theme is a Javascript front-end with GraphQL API for communication with the backend. They are customizable and have the same code base for desktop and mobile versions.

Opting for Magento PWA themes from experienced tech companies significantly speeds up the development process. Although such themes, as almost any solution, may have bugs and vulnerabilities and require additional functionality and regular updates.

Custom Magento PWA development

Although it is technically more complicated, you can always develop your progressive web app on Magento 2 through custom coding. This option offers almost unlimited opportunities for tailoring your web app to your business needs.

However, you’ll need to select a progressive framework. For Magento PWA development, we recommend choosing React.js, Vue.js, and Angular.js.

  1. React.js

React (ReactJS or React.js) is a user-friendly JavaScript library used to build user interfaces, develop progressive web apps and single-page applications, or customize themes.

  1. Vue.js

Vue.js is another JavaScript library that creates UIs and single-page applications (SPAs). It allows developers to create projects from scratch, reach various official libraries, and speed up rendering with the virtual Document Object Model (DOM).

  1. Angular.js

It’s one more solution to develop a PWA that provides vast opportunities for customizations. It offers 2-way data binding and helps to accelerate the app prototyping processes.

Hiring professional Magento PWA developers

If you want to avoid digging into details of PWA development, hiring experienced Magento developers is always a good option. 

NEKLO is a reliable Magento development services provider. Our experience will help you to get the maximum benefit from the PWA technology for your e-commerce website.

The services we offer:

  • Custom Magento PWA development;
  • Migration to PWA;
  • Progressive web app UX/UI design & optimization;
  • PWA testing;
  • Technical support and maintenance services.

If you have any questions regarding the Magento PWA solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free intro consultation.

Magento PWA is fast, has smooth performance regardless of the platform, enables push notifications, updates do not require user participation, and is SEO-friendly. Native mobile apps take more time to develop, require uploading from the app store, are not tracked by search engines, and need user consent to update, but provide excellent UX.

Conclusion

Magento PWAs are fast developing. More and  more e-commerce business owners opt for this technology to improve the user experience and increase sales. 

If you want to follow this hottest trend in online commerce, connect with our Magento development specialists – we will analyze your current Magento solution, estimate the PWA relevance for your exact business, or offer other solutions to help optimize your web store and increase conversions!