The Biggest Myth About PWA’s Offline Capability

Since its introduction in 2015, Progressive Web App (PWA) has been providing a seamless and engaging experience for online shoppers. One of the biggest advantages that make PWA become popular is its offline capability. That breaks the “old” truth that you can’t visit a website if your Internet goes out.

Is PWA’s offline capability truly powerful? Can users use PWA without a network connection all the time? Let’s find out the answer!

When Can PWA Be Accessed Without A Network Connection?

In fact, PWA is network-independent under certain circumstances. Specifically, your users are able to access only viewed pages on your website (from the second visit), regardless of the Internet connection.

PWA can work offline and work well in slow or no network conditions, thanks to the Service Worker – a technology initially developed by Google. When there is an absence of an Internet connection, Service Worker helps PWA work offline using data caches of the last user’s interactions with the app. It saves all necessary files including text, images, or any format needed for offline operation. Then it stores them into the application layout as offline caches for future use.

If data is cached and available offline, Service Worker will return it first before trying to download it from the server. If it isn’t in the cache already, Service Worker will download and save it for future usage. It means that users can revisit a PWA site and get its contents immediately without loading the page again if no network is available.

Another offline capability of Service Worker is to support PWA to automatically synchronize requests from the user to the central server as soon as the device is back online.

Let’s take an instant messaging app like Telegram as an example. If users send a text message right when their phone loses internet connection, then as soon as their phone has the internet back, Service Worker will continue to send messages to users or any tasks that require the Internet.

When Is The Internet Required To Use PWA?

PWA sites will need an initial caching of essential resources first before offline mode available to users. In the real use case, it’s for the websites that you have never visited before. PWA requires the first loading to get the most updated data to get everything synchronized to your browser cache.

Another case is when you make an interaction like sign-in, sign-up, checkout with an online payment method. Or customers want to add products to wishlist, comparison list and contact on website.

Is Offline Capability Still Useful?

PWA’s network independence characteristic helps to solve problems related to Internet speed, website load speed, and user engagement. Generally speaking, the offline mode has so many advantages:

Constant engagement

Let’s imagine your customers start filling out information for online orders and then they go into the elevator and the connection is interrupted.

On a regular site, if the customer clicks the submit button, their data will disappear. In comparison, PWA with offline mode will save all the information and send them when the Internet is back without the need for order re-submit.

For businesses that have product catalogs, offline capacity allows their customers to view the product content page even if users are not connected to the internet. This increases user engagement and potentially leads to increased revenue. For example, Starbucks PWA allows their customers to browse the menu, customize their order on the way, and add items to carts without an internet connection. Once they’re back online, Starbuck customers can view the current store location’s pricing and complete orders. 

Fast performance

In offline mode, PWA loads cache directly from the browser to show the page instantly with contents as of the last visit. As said, PWA can provide much better performance than traditional web applications which takes time to retrieve data continuously from the server.

Higher profit

This is rather a consequence of the above points. When your website is empowered with PWA offline mode, the possibility of your customers re-accessing your website increases, the time they spend on your website improves with a better experience. In the long run, offline-capable PWA helps increase conversion compared to traditional websites.

Wrapping Up

With Progressive Web App, the offline experience is insignificantly different from the online experience. This feature is especially useful for business stores that need a seamless browsing experience, even when there is no network connection. No more blank disconnected pages nor hanging around by playing Chrome dinosaur jumping through the desert.