PWAs are the future of e-commerce – and Klevu’s roadmap is loaded with useful features to make your on-site search reliable, fast and engaging. Our Legacy Products are in a strong position in relation to PWAs too, as this article explores.


Introduction

Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) are becoming increasingly popular in the world of e-commerce and mobile development.

At a base level PWAs aim to simplify the adoption of web applications in order to offer a more inclusive, performant and secure web. PWAs can operate offline when a user adds a website to their home screen and behave like native mobile applications. PWAs therefore eliminate the need to manually publish to a platform’s app store, which saves a lot of time and stress.

E-commerce has been slow to adopt PWAs due to the industry’s legacy architecture and systems. E-commerce websites are also inherently more complex compared with more static websites –– making the barrier to entry higher.

What is a PWA?

The term PWA was first coined by Google Engineer, Alex Ruseel, but what constitutes a PWA according to Google’s guidelines?

A PWA is a spectrum rather than a binary on/off feature. As defined by Google, a PWA website should be:

  • Reliable - Load instantly and never show the downasaur (in Google Chrome), even in uncertain network conditions
  • Fast - Respond quickly to user interactions with silky smooth animations and no janky scrolling
  • Engaging - Feel like a natural app on the device, with an immersive user experience

 

What’s Klevu doing to empower merchants with a PWA approach?

At Klevu, we want to empower merchants to access, implement and benefit from PWAs without being held back by the technology partners they choose to work with. For this reason, we are working tirelessly to develop products that support the modern PWA architecture.

We’re taking a progressive approach by rolling out more and more features to align our products with the PWA principles as our product and technology evolve. 

Klevu’s product roadmap is loaded with features that will make Klevu more PWA friendly, but also provide app-like features to the search itself, as time progresses. Most of these will be rolled out over the coming months. We have our sights set high — look out for future articles in this series, revealing more.

What does Klevu currently support?

What does our current PWA implementation support at a base level and where do we intend to improve as time goes on? 

Basic PWA standards

The PWA standards range from some fundamental principles that all sites should follow, to more advanced techniques that may not be applicable to all e-commerce merchants. 

We should point out that the current Klevu product suite does not support a full PWA architecture. However, we do meet the more basic PWA standards which is a great starting point from which we will roll out a series of fully-fledged, app-like features. 

Let’s take a look at these basic principles: 

Site is served over HTTPS

HTTPS is the first PWA standard mentioned in Google’s PWA checklist. It’s not a new recommendation and is something that all e-commerce sites should have implemented, regardless of their PWA ambitions. 

In fact, it’s vital for an e-commerce store to implement HTTPS site-wide for the security and confidence of shoppers. Even so, it’s still common to find sites that only implement HTTPS at the checkout, rather than site-wide.

All major e-commerce platforms support the HTTPS feature, as should any third-party integration that provides external assets to a merchant (e.g images / CSS and JS). 

As a third-party integration, Klevu provides all images, Javascript and CSS via HTTPS, ensuring that a shopper’s browser never prompts a warning when using Klevu as an on-site search provider. 

Site works cross-browser

Cross-browser support is a basic requirement on today’s web. Individuals access websites on different browsers and it’s critical that they all provide a good user experience. 

Most frameworks and platforms make cross-browser compatibility relatively straight forward. Nonetheless, this is a critical element for all code that is utilized on a site. 

Klevu’s underlying CSS and Javascript is compatible in all major browsers, ensuring that end-users never suffer from a bad user experience when accessing a site that utilizes Klevu to power its on-site search.

Pages are responsive on tablets & mobile devices

As users are accessing the web on a vast variety of devices (mobile, desktop and tablet), e-commerce merchants must provide an easy, friendly experience across them all.

In order to do that, the responsivity of an e-commerce site needs to be consistent with design, load speed and the overall UX, regardless of the device it’s accessed from. Images, buttons, search bars and content should adapt to the user’s screen.

Klevu provides a small amount of CSS with its plug and play solutions, all of which is fully responsive and compatible across all devices where a shopper would shop online.

First load fast even on 3G

“Fast” is a sliding scale and something that should be constantly reviewed and tested. Speed is particularly pertinent when it comes to e-commerce. 

A true PWA application will have perceived, instantaneous load times after the initial page load. This has a huge advantage, especially for shoppers on limited connections such as 3G. 

Klevu is working on implementing a fully robust, more latency tolerant solution (including offline search capabilities) but for now, it’s worth noting that we deliver all our current external JS and CSS assets via a CDN. This is in a fully optimized format, meaning there’s very low latency when it comes to loading in the required Klevu components.

Summary

In this article, we have looked at the most basic aspects of a PWA and how Klevu currently supports these principles. 

We’ve also established that there’s a lot more to a fully-fledged PWA. Klevu is currently in the process of rolling out features that will make it easy to support merchants through a PWA build process.

In our next article, we’ll look at arguably one of the most powerful PWA features from a search perspective: an offline search and caching strategy. 

Keep your eyes peeled for more on this, coming soon!