Desktop Browser Notifications Explained

Notifications are well known cross smartphones and tablets.  Essentially every app, game, and pretty much anything a phone can think of will send you a push notification.

Push notifications on desktop browsers are not quite as common, but that will, and is changing fast.  Now in addition to notifications on your wearables, phones, tablets, etc, everyday websites are going to send them to you too.
web push notification sitesMore and more leading Web browsers are setting up to support and implement push notifications. Sites using this tech will be able to ask visitors if they wish to opt in to receive notifications, which can be new articles, products, posts and any kind of new content. The site will deliver them, even when that site is not open in any browser. Want to know a sports score? Weather Alert, Breaking News?  Push Notifications can deliver all these and much more.


Push notifications will appear in pop-up windows, similar to the kinds you might see for a new email or a browser update prompt.

Apple has been an early adopter of this technology, with ESPN and the New York Times already pushing content to users of Safari browsers.  The technology has made its way to other browsers now.  IE (Edge), and Firefox all support them now.  Chrome has adopted it as well and is encouraging site owners to use the technology.

web push iconWith mobile usage being so prevalent, it only makes sense that desktop browser developers would try to stay on top of any mobile founded technology they can. Web pages will be able to behave much like mobile apps now and encourage repeat traffic, greatly enhancing site traffic and conversion.

One of the providers of this tech is Roost .  Their clients include the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the tech news site The Next Web. Both companies use push notifications to inform readers of breaking news and new articles.

Up until now, such notifications were usually sent in emails, often lost in a clutter of other emails.  Then, when read, if at all, the timing of the message may have lost its urgency.  RSS was another option, but that technology has most fallen off in usage by everyday web users. With notifications, it’s right then and there, where you are, and if opted into, not annoying or spammy.

There is a complication that arises however.  Site owners will have to implement  push notifications to different browsers or operating systems. Because the technology is still new, there is no agreed upon standard and most developers are making cross browser push notifications by hand.

Even so, browser notifications seem like a smart move, and a perfect extension of the logic used by smartphones.  As the technology becomes more universal, be prepared for a great deal of websites to start asking you if you’d like to receive notifications.  If you say yes, be prepared to receive a lot of them!