Progressive Web Apps for WordPress
In a nutshell, a ‘Progressive Web App’ (PWA) is software that utilizes the most current web technologies available. Therefore, as technology advances, current PWAs will be superseded by other solutions.
In this post, we’ll discuss the web application development process, then look at how to build web apps in WordPress. Finally, we’ll round up some themes and plugins that may help you along the way. Let’s get started!
WordPress Web Application Development
As for PWAs, there are many benefits, but one key advantage is the time saved reproducing a completed app on multiple production sites. For this, you’ll likely want to turn to ‘Service Workers’.
WordPress Service Workers
Service Workers are capable of handling push notifications easily, and can also synchronize data in the background. What’s more, they will usually receive centralized updates, so you’ll always be working with the latest version.
How to Build Web Apps with WordPress
Depending on the type of PWA you’re developing, the process can be very involved. For example, you’ll need to identify the specifics of jQuery requests, test snippets and develop segmented database returns, integrate variables for different platform variations (as well as style elements), then wrap it all into a framework of code that looks good and functions well.
You’ll also need to choose both a back end and front end framework. Of course, WordPress is going to be your back end Content Management System (CMS), but you’ll also want to choose a suitable server stack, such as XAMPP.
This is part of what a dedicated WordPress Application Framework is designed to simplify, partly by providing solutions to common coding errors, and by having developer resources that are up to date.
Most people don’t think of WordPress as a developer platform, but with dozens of frameworks, a myriad of design options, and thousands of lines of code added yearly by developers, it’s actually one of the biggest developer platforms in the world.
WordPress Web App Themes
‘Web app themes’ enable WordPress to act as a PWA, without the need to code from scratch. They’re often full-featured, and offer the most power and flexibility for your PWA.
Good free solutions are thin on the ground – understandable given their intended application. With that in mind, you’ll have to open your wallet to find a suitable theme. For starters, Ubold is one of the most popular options, built on top of Bootstrap:
It provides a number of menu styles, along with thousands of FontAwesome icons to choose from. In addition, Ubold also includes sample Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and eCommerce applications, to show what the theme’s capable of.
Alternatively, you could opt for OneUI:
This theme (based on Bootstrap and AngularJS) enables you to build your front and back end within one framework, and includes four versions to help kickstart your development. In addition, it’s designed to be as lightweight as possible, and is completely modular, meaning it’s as flexible as you need it to be.
WordPress Web App Plugins
There are also WordPress plugins to help you create a PWA, but these operate on a smaller scale. They usually only let you implement one or two features, which can still make a dramatic change to how a WordPress website behaves.
For example, WordPress Mobile Soft enables you to set up a PWA without it affecting your primary theme, and also makes sure it’s ready for mobile devices. What’s more, you’ll also be able to use an search engine optimized URL, enabling visitors to navigate easily to your PWA.
Similarly, WordPress Mobile Pack lets you create a PWA from your existing WordPress website, and also comes with several mobile app themes, making this a potential all-in-one solution. WordPress Mobile Pack is supported on iOS and Android devices, and is also compatible with most popular browsers, including Safari, Google Chrome, and Android’s native browser.
In a nutshell, the tools that make development and deployment easier and more accessible will be the ones that attract the most users. However, the overall performance of your PWA often comes down to the hosting provider you choose.
WP Engine provides best-in-class customer service on top of innovation-driven technology. This is why over 60,000 customers in 120 countries have chosen them for their mission critical WordPress hosting needs. What’s more, WP Engine’s hosting offers versatility for mobile sites and PWAs, due to the wide range of available features.