Progressive Web Apps, or PWAs are a fairly-new technology that has been emerging in the past years. In my opinion, its a welcoming change for creating apps. Up until the introduction of PWA, apps were traditionally created alongside websites. You could use APIs to fetch website functionality and articles, but it often required you to manage one set of code for your website, and one set of code for your application. With PWA's, you're able to use one set of code to manage both.
Today, we're going to talk about how to set up your WordPress install into a PWA. Luckily, we only need two plugins to make this happen, and a few minutes:
PWA by PWA Plugin Contributors
The first plugin is PWA by PWA Plugin Contributors. This plugin does not actually turn your site into a PWA, but instead provides a lot of the background elements necessary to make your site PWA compatible.
One of the most important features that it adds, is the ability for "Offline browsing" found under Settings > Reading in the /wp-admin panel. Once you have the plugin installed, go ahead and activate that feature.
Super Progressive Web Apps
The second plugin I'm using is called Super Progressive Web Apps by SuperPWA. Once you activate the plugin, you'll be redirected to their Settings page where you will be able to set your Application Name, Description, Logo, App Colors, and a variety of other things.
Once both plugins are set up, clear any caches created by plugins or your server, and you should be able to download your PWA.
While it is straightforward to create a PWA with WordPress using the plugins above, it's important to understand when your plugin may or may not be beneficial. For example, if you're looking to use features on the phone such as GPS or a camera, PWA may not be the best option. However, there's a great little site that helps you to see what PWA's can do: https://whatpwacando.today/.
One of the biggest downsides of PWAs is that they don't seem to be the greatest for offline storage. We're looking at turning our Trivia-based app (Triviquest) into a PWA and are hoping to find a way to allow users to access questions offline. While there are some options available, it does not seem like the easiest solution compared to a traditional app.
Finally, a wonderful benefit of PWAs is that as the time of this writing, it does not appear that you need to pay those insane 30% royalty fees on any digital products sold on your app. So, you may find yourself saving some cash to focus on the things you love.
If you're interested in getting a PWA up and running for your site, let us know. We'll be glad to assist!