Taking Novelties in Their Stride: How to Turn WordPress into PWA

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The digital world is in constant motion, improving traditional practices and offering its adepts offbeat responses to age-long challenges. The changes of the IT landscape are so fast-paced that approaches which were deemed the only true ones just a couple of years ago become inveterately obsolete in a twinkling of an eye. 

You don’t have to travel far afield to see examples of such radical transformations. One of the most fundamental shifts in the high-tech realm that has come as a resilience test for all stakeholders in the industry is the robust and ubiquitous advent of mobile devices. Since most web traffic is now redirected to smartphones and tablets, digital business owners have to reconsider their ways of reaching out to consumers. 

This disruptive breakthrough poses a dilemma before online companies: whether they should cling to their good old websites or abandon them and embrace the app technology. We at Multi-Programming Solutions believe such a choice to be a faulty one. You can have the best of the two worlds by leveraging progressive web app solutions. If you have a WordPress e-commerce website, you can convert WordPress to progressive web app. Such a progressive web app WordPress combo is a wise option budget-wise, with the final product being an integration of benefits both types of know-how provide.

Why You Should Turn your WordPress Site into a Progressive Web App?

For many entrepreneurs, the realization of the necessity to engage mobile users would suggest another solution than a WordPress PWA – a native app. And if we remember the current problems with running PWAs on iOS-powered devices, it would seem a better choice. But only at first sight. Why?

First of all, you would have to create two native apps to extend your sway both to Apple and Android users, which spells outrageous expenditures. If you are still undaunted by such a prospect, you must be aware that potential customers can find your software product only in app stores that levy a registration charge and have stringent publication requirements as to its quality and security. Plus, most people don’t like to go through the bother of downloading and installing native apps, which they may eventually use a couple of times before irretrievably deleting them from their gadget.

Progressive web apps are a totally different story. Being websites by nature, they enjoy all the boons their essence provides. They possess maximum discoverability by search engines, are accessed via browsers, and can be run on devices with any screen size even if the internet connection is unstable or absent. And they are much simpler and cheaper to build, especially in case it isn’t going to be creating a PWA from scratch but transforming your website and getting a progressive web app WordPress blend. Once you favor this approach, you are sure to obtain more perks.

When it goes about the loading speed of progressive web apps, desktop WordPress site versions fall utterly short. Such an edge is ensured by a service worker each WordPress PWA employs. This script running in the background independently of the web page caches resources, handles offline requests, harmonizes data with a remote server, and performs slews of other operations that tell positively upon the performance of the app. Moreover, it enables offline functioning of it!

The push notification feature is yet another asset that will become available to your progressive web app WordPress fusion. Typically, websites don’t have this functionality – and it is a definite loss. As a research claims, push notifications bolster engagement rate by 88% – quite a telling number to make them a must-have in your PWA.

Finally, a native-looking interface of a website gone PWA is likely to be one more factor that, according to a Google-powered survey, motivates site visitors to buy something, thus turning them into clients.

And the last straw. It is true that Apple is reluctant to adopt any technologies that come from third parties (PWA including). However, with progressive web app technology gaining serious traction, they just can’t ignore them any longer, starting to make their operating system more PWA-friendly with every new version of it. So quite soon the day will come when both iOS and Android users will enjoy a similar experience, working with PWAs.

How to Make Progressive Web App with WordPress?

Before embarking on the WordPress website transformation, make sure it ticks the following boxes.

  • The WordPress site is responsive, working well across all possible devices (desktops, laptops, mobile phones, tablets).
  • It is HTTPS secure.
  • Its WordPress version is higher than 3.5.0.
  • Every page of it has a unique URL.
  • The PHP version is higher than 5.3.

In case those conditions are met, you should decide upon the method of the website conversion. 

Manual Development

Naturally, DIY is the cheapest approach to adopt. Moreover, by transforming your site into PWA manually you can tailor it to your needs, equip it with features to your liking, and design an attractive WordPress PWA template. With a plethora of teaching aids available on the web, you can watch a PWA WordPress tutorial, study carefully the guidelines provided by experts in the field, and go through Progressive Web App Checklist by Google to make sure you do everything right.

However, it only sounds that easy. For a layman having scarce or no experience in coding, such endeavor is definitely above their heads. In addition to the lack of skills, you will find choosing the tech stack a problem, since you would hardly be able to make the right choice in selecting between frameworks and libraries that will suit your purposes and march your level of expertise. 

Even in case you manage to succeed in transforming your WordPress site into PWA, are you sure that its performance will provide a satisfying UX for your customers but not rather scare them away? If not, it is better to entrust this work to a team of seasoned professionals who will deliver a high-end product to serve as a reliable channel of rapport with customers and a source of stable revenues for your organization.

Transformation Via a WordPress Progressive Web App Theme

Acting similar to an API, a WordPress PWA theme enables the website to behave like a PWA without actually coding functionalities into it. Being full-fledged tools, they help in empowering your PWA with flexibility and top-notch performance. The best themes to be employed aren't free, but by leveraging them you can be sure your PWA will be up to the mark.

  • Ubold. Built on top of Bootstrap, it furnishes a wide scope of menu styles and tons of FontAwesome icons that will make your PWA look appealing. A useful perk of Ubold is a sample of CRM and e-commerce apps to illustrate the capabilities of the theme.
  • OneUI. This lightweight theme (based on both AngularJS and Bootstrap) provides a universal framework containing four versions for front- and back-end development. The chief forte of this theme is its modular nature that imparts the development process with exceeding flexibility.

Conversion Via WordPress PWA Plugins

This software works on a smaller scale than PWA themes, being instrumental in implementing just a couple of features. Yet, these features can be a significant competitive differentiator that will give your PWA an edge over your rivals. 

  • Super Progressive Web Apps. Its installation and configuration is a cakewalk. Once a website user accesses it from a supported device, they get a message urging them to add it to their home screen. If they agree, it appears on their screen as a PWA icon. The completion of this procedure enables search engine availability of the PWA and offline access to any page that has been cached. 
    The main advantage of Super Progressive Web Apps WordPress plugin is that it is free. Plus, its uninstall efficiently removes all entries and files from your database. As for shortcomings, PWAs built with it can't enjoy Google Analytics support, and push notification options are rather limited when run on Apple devices.
  • WordPress Mobile Soft. Leveraging this plugin, you can set up a PWA without impacting your primary theme that can be further accessed either from a desktop or a mobile gadget. Besides, it generates an SEO-friendly URL of the PWA that allows users to easily find it on the internet.
    The unpleasant news about this tool is that it hasn’t been properly tested with the latest WordPress versions, so the support of all WordPress add-ons is in question.
  • PWA for WP & AMP. In addition to the conventional options (like a home screen icon and offline access for PWA), this plugin enables the creation of progressive web apps not only for websites but for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) as well. Moreover, it offers a dashboard to monitor your PWA and supports OneSignal and multisite push notifications. It comes in freemium and premium versions, with some important features (like Pull to Refresh or Call-to-Action) available only in the latter.
    Unfortunately, the plugin lacks documentation but the manufacturer keeps working on it introducing improvements and updates, which will hopefully streamline its functioning and usage.
  • Progressive WordPress (PWA). Utilizing the backend of WordPress, this free plugin generates a framework based on your current site. As a result, your newly-built PWA will look like a native app and display a high loading speed thanks to precached resources. It will also support AMP and push notifications sent from the WordPress admin dashboard (unless the PWA is run on an iOS-powered device).
  • PWA for WordPress. With the employment of this free plugin, the conversion of your WordPress website into a PWA is tremendously foolproof – you just have to install two files to do it. It can be also used to fine-tune cache expiration durations and select what URLs should be excluded from the PWA cache. Its chief drawback is its verdancy and, consequently, the absence of reliable data on it having been tested with the latest WordPress versions.
  • WordPress Mobile Pack. The greatest asset of this plugin is its compatibility with iOS, Android, and all popular browsers. Together with offering a whole gamut of in-built themes, it provides wide customization options to employ the company’s branding in the design of your PWA. Using this plugin, you can be sure that its coordination mechanisms prevent conflicts between the building blocks of PWA. A useful perk here is an easy connection with Google Adsense and Google Analytics.
  • WebSuite PWA. This tool contains various themes, CDN, push notifications, and other features to make your future PWA look and feel native. Definite fortes of the plugin are integrated analytics and AMP support.

As you see, there are plenty of options to choose from if you want to turn your WordPress website into a PWA. And if you want to obtain a high-quality product, it is better to address skilled specialists who can deliver. Multi-Programming Solutions possesses the necessary expertise to tackle this job for you, and at an affordable price too. 

Summing It Up

As the global number of smartphones is quickly approaching the total population of the Earth, the mobile experience has already become a staple of online shopping. By transforming your WordPress website into a PWA, you will not only enrich it with lots of features essential for comfortable UX but obtain another channel of customer engagement and augmented opportunities for increasing revenues as well. 

PWAMarch 22, 2021
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