Progressive Web Apps Features
Progressive web applications can be seen as mobile-optimized versions of web pages that you can install on your phone through your browser. They are similar to regular applications, minus the inconvenience of having to be downloaded from an app store. But let’s move on from high-level definitions, and dive deeper into PWAs key features to understand everything that they’re capable of.
Progress Web App Benefits
Perhaps, the most recognizable feature of PWAs: they are available even when offline or under weak network conditions. When you enable the web app, it’ll download a few essential elements that’ll let you use it at all times. This means PWAs are more reliable and much faster.
Since the PWA caches several elements when you first open it, all the following uses will load faster and you’ll get an overall smoother experience across all screens. Google states that, on average, 53% of users will abandon a mobile website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, so you can see why it’s important to optimize page speed as much as possible.
Similar to native mobile apps, PWAs will also be available on your home screen after you install them. In some way, you can see it as a portable web page that you access with a single click (or tap), with no need to open a browser. Additionally, as Google pushes the adoption of progressive web apps, the SEO value they bring is also considerable. Unlike native apps, PWAs are ranked on search engines and are commonly seen as snippet cards at the top of the first results pages when doing mobile searches.
PWAs are not a synonym of responsive applications, but they are responsive by nature. They will adapt to any screen size, and their behavior will be similar, regardless of the device you’re using.
PWAs can make use of your device hardware features, such as the camera, GPS and file systems. You’ll also be able to make payments through built-in payment systems–Apple Pay or Google Pay– like you would with a native app. Additionally, the codebase PWAs share with their web counterparts allows them to update over-the-air, with no need to download new versions from the store.
PWAs allow higher user engagement through features like push notifications, even when the application isn’t open. Thus, it’s possible to prioritize information, raising the app’s perceived value, and add touchpoints that may be used to personalize the user journey.
The number of sub-features, and different namings, are as numerous as the number of web searches you’re willing to make. The ones stated above are, however, those that best define what PWAs are and how they can potentially improve the user journey. The list may be extensive, but it’s also abstract, so let’s get practical and see how a progressive web app can perform and what it can do in specific business scenarios.
What Can a Progressive Web App Do?
We’re now witnessing mass adoption of PWAs, after skepticism and enduring resistance from browser advocates like Apple that reigned in its early days. They became hard to ignore and some market leaders have already taken action. The reason why? On top of the already mentioned usage benefits, they also deliver a lengthy list of business perks:
Web App User Benefits
- Reduced development and maintenance costs: you have multiple platforms that are supported by a single codebase.
- Easy deployment: there’s no need to go through the process of distributing through the app stores.
- User engagement: it’s easier to re-engage with the customer even after the app is closed.
- No store fees: application stores keep around 30% of the revenue.
- Smaller size: PWAs are often under 1MB, downloading in a fraction of the time.
- Larger reach: PWAs have increased reach when compared with regular native apps, given the higher discoverability and SEO impact. Their smaller size also makes them more accessible in remote areas where the network speed is slower.
- Higher conversion rate: there are significant increases in conversion rates when using PWAs.
“But haven’t you just shown me abstract metrics and not industry-proven facts again?” No.
Starbucks, for instance, claims to have doubled their daily and monthly active users after moving to a PWA. During a technical session at Google I/O ‘18, the company stated that they’ve managed to raise orders from mobile users by 20%. The reason why they’ve achieved such impressive numbers? The “great, fast, integrated, reliable and engaging experience” that they’ve provided since switching from a native app to a PWA.
Another good example is that of Nikkei, the Japanese holding company focused on newspaper businesses. They saw value in this alternative to native mobile apps and, in 2017, made the shift to a PWA. In a case study shared by Google, the performance gains and business impact that came from this change are clear. From faster loading times to increased traffic and conversions, it was a game-changing decision.
As the influence of PWAs on mobile development grows, several other examples become available, making them a clear upward trend. But is it the best fit for your business?