PWAs look to take the mobile web by storm - but what's so special about them?Ian Naylor
Unless you’ve been hiding away in a shack somewhere completely off the grid, you probably have seen the incredible rise of mobile web usage. Nearly half of all global Internet users in February this year accessed the Internet via their mobile. In India, this number is closer to 80%.
It’s obvious from these numbers that mobile Internet usage is here to stay. However, the online experience via a mobile phone is hardly ideal. Until now, mobile Internet users had two options when browsing online. They could either use a responsive website, which suffers slow loading times that can cause users to drop off, or they could use an app, which takes up valuable storage space on their phone. The user experience of both is hardly ideal.
Enter the Progressive Web App (PWA). For those who do not yet know about these, PWAs take the best of a mobile-responsive website and merges it with the best of a native app – without the downsides. It is a type of mobile app that is delivered through the Internet, so it feels just like using a native app, but without the cons that come with this.
With a traditional app, users have to navigate to an app store to find the app, download and install it. At each of these steps, there’s the potential for them to drop off. With a PWA, you can use it right from the start, and it can be accessed and shared through a simple URL. This also means that it can be shared via social media and other marketing channels. To make it even easier for the user to access your PWA, they can install it on their phone’s home-screen, however, it doesn’t take up as much space as a native app. In fact, PWAs on average, require 25 times less device storage than a native app.
On average, PWAs load 15 times faster than a native app.Service workers work behind the scenes to help improve load time. This also mitigates any connectivity issues. People using a PWA will still have the same user experience on a poor connection or even offline.
Pre-caching also keeps the PWA up to date, so a user will always get the most current content whenever they open the PWA.
Because they are hosted online, a PWA can offer the same experience regardless of what device a person is using. They will see the same content and be able to do the same things on a mobile, a tablet or desktop computer. Not only does this offer them a better experience, it also means that a business’ brand remains consistent across all devices.
Like a native app, a PWA can send users push notifications. You can, therefore, re-engage users who have stopped using a PWA through a simple push notification campaign. Indeed, business publication Forbes saw a 100% increase in engagement through using a PWA.
Unlike a native app, however, PWAs have the added benefit of ranking better in search engine algorithms. Because they are indexed like a mobile website, they offer better SEO than native apps. Given that 60% of all searches are now done on mobile devices, this offers a huge benefit over native apps.
Given the meteoric rise of the mobile Internet, PWAs are clearly here to stay. They offer businesses and consumers better functionality and an improved user experience over native apps and mobile responsive websites. PWAs seem like a win-win situation for everyone. There’s nothing to lose with trying a PWA out, but a whole lot to gain.