The concept of PWA - progressive web applications - has been heard relatively recently, from the spring of 2018. Nevertheless, this technology has become so popular that the world's largest businesses are actively using it and get tremendous advantages over competitors.
What is a progressive web app? What are its characteristics and can it really improve your business? We have attempted here to be as clear and concise as possible, without all of the extra words and long definitions.
What is a Progressive Web Application?
A progressive web application is a technology that adds application functionality to a website; it's like a hybrid of a website and application. Progressive web app can be installed on the home screen of a smartphone or desktop directly from the browser. PWAs are similar to Google Docs, for example, because all of their characteristics are equal to installed programs, but they are functioning directly in browser.
In the development of progressive web applications the following technologies are implemented:
- Service Worker.
- Web App manifest.
- App shell.
- Push Notifications.
Have a look at the features of progressive web apps on infographics below:
What is the Difference Between a Progressive Web Application and a Regular Application?
Usually, to add an application to your gadget, you need to download it from the Play Store or the App Store, depending on whether your mobile phone works on Android or iOS. But, with a progressive web application, things are a little bit different. Despite the fact that now it's already possible to publish progressive web apps on the Play Store and App Store (by the way, there is a possibility that user may not even notice the difference with the native app), in most cases you do not have to install PWA locally on the phone. Moreover, even a permanent Internet connection is not so important, because progressive web apps can work offline.
To learn more about progressive web apps you can also watch this video:
What are the Benefits of PWA Development for Business?
Using progressive web apps can improve a number of critical indicators for the company:
- increase the growth of mobile traffic;
- increase conversion;
- increase engagement;
- due to the small “weight” to improve the download and installation speed;
- increase the number of page views and time spent on them;
- get a bounce rate lower than mobile websites.
And now let's take a closer look at the progressive web applications benefits for business:
- Save time and resources of your business
Native applications require additional time and effort to support various platforms, such as Android and iOS, which makes their creation and maintenance very expensive. Meanwhile, PWA can be implemented with only one code base, which greatly simplifies and reduces development and maintenance costs. This eliminates the need to create separate apps for Android and iOS, which, in turn, saves a lot of resources of your business when creating, hosting and marketing the application.
Thanks to technology of progressive web application, instead of a long distribution process in app stores, you get a better and easier way to provide users with an app-like experience. In addition, updating an existing website using PWA features will cost much less than developing a native application from scratch, and any necessary updates are carried out instantly, without requiring Apple or Google verification.
- Quick installation
Unlike conventional mobile applications, PWAs do not require a long and complicated installation process, and it improves user experience. After downloading the application, users access it through an icon on the desktop. This allows you to quickly engage the user and increase conversion.
- Fast loading
Also, another significant advantage of progressive web apps is that they load even with a poor Internet connection. This is possible thanks to pre-caching. Speed is critical to your business. Proof of this is the fact that numerous users abandon a website that takes more than a few seconds to load. Moreover, PWAs have significant benefits for your business in SEO, since faster downloads improve search engine indexing.
- Faster work after initial loading
After the initial loading is completed, there is no need to reload the same content and page elements each time. Regular websites use a browser cache to avoid constantly reloading the same data. But in progressive web applications, the same elements do not require re-visualization.
- SEO Improvement
From a SEO perspective, search engines view advanced web applications as websites and index them completely. Native apps, by contrast, are not indexed. In addition, PWA is just a website, so users can share a link and, combined with an optimized backlink strategy, are able to increase SEO rankings, which native applications cannot do.
- Better performance
Many websites use PWA technology to improve their performance. Progressive web apps cache and serve content in a special way, which allows them to work as websites and significantly increases the speed of work. Flawless performance is another factor affecting user experience and conversion rates. This type of software is especially valuable for retailers and content vendors, as it provides more positive user experience than mobile applications due to better customer retention and loyalty.
- Versatility of platforms and devices
Unlike regular applications, progressive web applications do not require different versions for various types of devices. PWAs work everywhere. One progressive application meets the requirements of all the endpoints on which it runs. Progressive web apps also provide continuous operation for users who switch between their devices. Another positive point is that PWAs adapt correctly to different screen sizes.
- Automatic update
The functionality of progressive web applications allows them to update automatically without notifying users and sending them permission requests. Thanks to this, the company updates the necessary content and functionality, without forcing users to download and install package changes. This, in turn, is also part of the positive user experience of your application.
- No dependency on application distribution services
Typically, application distribution services, such as Google Play, App Store, or Microsoft Store, place high demands to the software that gets included in their databases. Moreover, if companies do not fulfill some requirements, services can delete applications from databases without warning. Progressive web applications allow manufacturers to avoid complex reconciliation procedures, since they do not have to be stored in similar services (although, we repeat, the possibility of placing PWA in the app store now also exists).
- Completely autonomous work
These applications store information that was previously accessed by users, such as pages. If they try to open the pages that they did not visit on the Internet, the application may display a custom offline page. This is important for retailers, as the application allows them to prevent users from abandoning their catalogs, increasing customer retention.
- Push notification functionality
Using push notifications helps companies to make the best use of advertising. More than half of users allow their PWAs to send them notifications. This fact increases the opportunities for promoting goods or services. Notifications are displayed on the mobile devices screens, so it is very likely that they will attract the attention of users, especially in comparison with newsletters, blog posts or messages on social networks.
Thus, using progressive web apps, the company:
- gets better access to their target audience;
- increases brand awareness with bouncing notifications and app icons on device desktops.
- Enhanced security
PWAs use HTTPS to protect the data of all communications with users, since this protocol eliminates the tracking and forgery of content, including payment transactions, customer information and their browsing history. In addition, applications take advantage of Web Bluetooth technology, which also includes certain security features.
Successful Progressive Web Apps Examples
Starbucks created the PWA ordering system, which provided customers with the ability to view menus without having constant Internet access, customize their orders, and add items to their carts. And having a network connection, users can send their orders for drinks and food, as well as get acquainted with the prices.
Result: Starbucks PWA is 99.84% smaller than the current Starbucks iOS app. It seems that the fans of the famous coffee house really appreciated this: the number of users placing orders daily doubled, and desktop users began to place orders at about the same speed as mobile users.
The leading Indian travel company developed a progressive web app when realised that most of their bookings were coming from customers' mobile phones.
Result: Users received a reliable, fast and streamlined mobile-web experience. Conversion rate tripled, page loading time decreased by 38%. Compared to the previous mobile site, the number of MakeMyTrip user sessions increased by 160% and the bounce rate decreased by 20%.
Pinterest decided to switch to the progressive web app due to the low speed of the site and the fact that the conversion to registration and installation of mobile applications was too small - only about 1%.
Result: Compared with the previous mobile web, the time spent on Pinterest PWA grew by 40%, revenue from user generated ads increased by 44% and core engagements grew by 60%.
Let's be honest: almost every one of us at least once in life ordered something from AliExpress. And at least once in your life, instead of the expected mink coat, you have got or will get, for example, a furry cat costume. But this is a completely different story :) In the meantime, the fact that AliExpress is actively using progressive web app, for that we should thank them.
Result: Conversion rates for new users increased by 104%. The conversion rate in Safari also increased by 82%. Also, now users visit twice as many pages per session, and the time spent on the session in all browsers increased in an average by 74%.
At some point in its rapid expansion into new markets, Uber realized the need for an application that would be significantly smaller than the current one, so that customers could use it regardless of device type and network speed.
Result: A progressive web application using tiny libraries and SVG instead of images, the basic m.uber.com application is decompressed just into 50K and loaded in less than three seconds - even on 2G networks.
Trivago Hotel Booking
Trivago is one of the world's leading hotel search systems, founded in Germany in 2005. The Trivago PWA-evolved website is now available in 55 countries in 33 languages. Before the creation of the website with progressive web application technology, users were attracted only via email, but thanks to subscriptions to push notifications, the brand had a new way of reaching customers.
Result: Over half a million people have added the Trivago website to their home screen. The involvement of users adding to the home screen has increased by 150%. The users of the old mobile site, with an average of only 0.8 repeat visits per two visits for PWA users. Conversion improvement, with a 97% increase in referrals to hotel offers for PWA users. Among users whose sessions are interrupted offline, 67% of those who return online continue to browse the website.
Progressive web application is one of the recipes for improving your business performance and user experience. Even if it is already successful. This is confirmed not only by the explosive growth in the popularity of the technology, but also by the experience of strong and popular companies. So we wish you only progress in your business, and progressive web applications will be a good tool in this. Just think about it ;)