Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are the latest trend for companies looking to create a strong mobile presence that incorporates the best of both mobile web and app experiences. For brands, the decision to “go mobile” is followed by a critical choice between a native or hybrid app, and a mobile website. With PWAs, it’s now possible to reap the benefits of both options with a more sophisticated, dynamic and seamless experience.
Native Apps vs. Mobile Web: An Ongoing Debate
The cost-benefit analysis of building mobile web versus a mobile app is nearly endless. Apps require downloads, and building different versions of the app for different devices requires additional development and drives up costs. Apps also need to be updated and continually resubmitted to the App Store, but offer the payoff of high engagement and customer loyalty rates. On the other hand, a mobile website does not require downloads, but also cannot be used offline and does not always provide the most personalized customer experience. For those torn in this debate, PWAs have become a favorable answer to bridge the gap between apps and mobile websites.
What are PWAs?
PWAs are progressive mobile experiences that have the appearance and speed of mobile apps, but are accessible through mobile web browsers. Mobile pages can be saved on a smartphone home screen and have offline capabilities otherwise not available with a mobile site. Once saved to the home screen, PWAs also update automatically and use significantly less storage than downloaded native apps. PWAs help to appeal to more consumers – regardless of whether they prefer apps or mobile web – providing companies with a maximized reach to attract more engaged customers.
The ROI of Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps provide the best of both worlds when it comes to mobile. PWAs are sophisticated, high-performing, app-like experiences that have been proven to drive re-engagement. In fact, PWAs’ page loading time is 2-4X faster than many mobile sites, and companies using PWAs have seen a 50-100% increase in retention and conversation rates.
For retailers, PWAs can be a crucial update to boost engagement and drive more revenue. Brands such as Flipkart have also seen positive results after making the switch to PWAs: seeing 70% increase in conversions, 40% higher re-engagement rates and 3X less data usage.
Considerations for Getting Started
While PWAs offer many benefits compared to apps and mobile web alone, many companies may be resistant to changing over their mobile platforms while there are still some technical issues to resolve. PWAs have limited capabilities when it comes to offering integration with smartphone or tablet’s hardware features, and companies also can be at a loss when switching over to PWAs if they fail to make them easily discoverable). Still, according to Gartner, the payoff is worth the trouble it may cost to experiment with building a PWA, noting that brands “must determine when – not if – they need to factor in PWAs as part of their overall mobile development strategy.”
For a comprehensive guide on Progressive Web Apps, visit Smashing Magazine.