The Future is an Installable Web

The Installable, Progressive Web App

What if you have a website and want to create an app like the ones you have installed on your device, but don't have the time or resources to create dedicated apps that will run on iOS, Windows, Android and Linux devices? After all, you website isn't complex, you just want to be able to offer the users of your web store or web blog features like notifications when you create a new blog post, website access from their home screen or the ability to view your content offline.

Enter Progressive Web Apps.

These apps are capable of being installed to a user's device from the web, as well as app stores, without the need for separate bases of operation. You can easily turn your website into an installable web app where your visitors can save your app directly to the home screen on their phone. You can turn a web store that sells t-shirts into an app where users have easy access to the storefront. They can browse and add items to cart while offline and return later to purchase after receiving a reminder notification on their device. If you run a digital magazine and post articles as well as digital copies of the magazine for sale on the website, you can notify users of new posts and new issues.

This app architecture ushers in a new way of creating digital stories, one where stories are not tethered to the rules of device manufacturers or social media platforms. It allows creators of all kinds to build rich experiences without a need for the expensive infrastructure associated with current device-native applications.

Turn Websites into Web Apps

Your website only needs a few additions to become a Progressive Web App.

It needs:

  1. the ability to work offline
  2. the ability to be added to a device's Home Screen via your website (usually via a visual cue like a button)
  3. a configuration file that tells your user's device important information like the location of the icon file, the primary color of your web app, display preference, etc.

That's it. No extra codebase. No duplicate content on a different platform. No separate publishing process. No extra overhead. You simply use your website's existing infrastructure.

A Paradigm Shift

The World Wide Web started off as a way for researchers and scientists to share important information with each other. It showcased the potential for a deep exploration of humanity's stories, stories that could take any shape and be presented in any digital format. However, we are currently exposed to a limited framework for storytelling, one that is owned and operated by only a handful of platforms.

First, we have to remove the barriers that are put in place by social media platforms, app stores and intermediaries who restrict creators and users who should be able to build and explore digital stories freely. We are seeing a shift of control from the few to the many; the ability to create installable web apps and have complete control over how that app is accessed is a crucial benchmark in this new age of the web.

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