The age of the smartphone opened a whole new window for companies in which to interact with their customers using apps.
With apps allowing customers to interact with businesses anytime, anywhere, apps quickly became popular.
Unfortunately, apps aren't as exciting for consumers as they were in their early days. This has resulted in app retention rates dropping rapidly and sales from them falling for some brands.
Because of this, progressive web apps are becoming increasingly popular.
What are progressive web apps?
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are regular web applications / pages that look and function like native mobile applications. PWAs use web browser capabilities and advanced enhancement strategies to provide users with a native app-like experience on any device.
In short, a progressive web app combines the look and feel of an app with the simple coding of a website.
The difference between native, hybrid and progressive apps
What is the difference between native, hybrid and progressive web apps?
- coded to run on a specific platform
- require separate code bases and the associated overhead
- can take full advantage of the native functions and hardware of a device
- Rely on frameworks (like Ionic, Cordova, React Native, etc.) instead of programming in the platform's programming language
- can share (at least partially) codebase in most scenarios
- can use most of a device's native functionality and hardware
Progressive web apps
- a mix of websites and apps
- Designed to run a single code base across all platforms (web, mobile, desktop).
- limited access to the native functions of a device, but sufficient for most use cases
Advantages of progressive web apps
Are there any advantages to using progressive web apps even though the native capabilities of a device are limited?
There certainly are. Here are some of the most famous:
- reliability: They can be used offline and provide a stable experience regardless of network conditions.
- safety: User information is safe on PWAs as every progressive web app must have SSL certificates.
- speed: Thanks to the caching by service agents and the use of a device's resources, progressive web apps offer a fast and seamless experience.
- engagement: PWAs integrate well with the web and devices, making them easy to interact with.
Another major benefit of PWAs is that users can save them to their home screens without the hassle of downloading them. This allows the PWA to load faster the next time it is used.
Why should I use Progressive Web Apps?
One reason users love apps is that they generally offer better experiences than web applications. However, developing and maintaining native apps is a lot of work, not to mention the cost of it.
If your users are using different platforms (Android, iOS, etc.), you'll need to code your app for each platform.
However, with PWAs, you don't need to code for every platform. They are designed with a "use code once, anywhere" philosophy. Once you've encoded your PWA, it's ready to use in the browser (as a website or web app), on desktops, and on mobile devices.
This often leads to better performance, improved retention rates, and ultimately an affordable application that delivers a positive user experience (UX) to your users.
When should you use a progressive web app?
One reason brands develop native apps is to appeal to users who return to their websites to frequently take certain actions. Apps make it easy to perform these functions without going to the brand's website. They also have properties that are fun to use.
You can use progressive apps in the same situations that native apps are used – for applications that your visitors visit frequently.
Other times when you should consider using a progressive web app are:
- You don't have the budget for a full-fledged app.
- You need to get to market quickly.
- Proper search engine indexing is vital.
- Cross-platform compatibility is critical to your business.
- You need to reach a wider audience.
If you meet any of the above criteria, you likely need a progressive app.
Examples of progressive web apps
Now that you know what a progressive web app is, let's look at a few examples.
Uber, the hail-fighting company, saw the opportunity to expand its customer base by creating an advanced web app that would make requesting rides easier and faster. The PWA works perfectly regardless of location, network speed or device.
For people who love to keep up with the latest news and trends around the world, Flipboard is a must have. To increase reach and give users access to their favorite online magazine, Flipboard has developed a PWA.
Due to the reduced data usage, users can enjoy a fast and elegant experience even in places with poor network coverage.
In order to place more online orders, Starbucks invested in a progressive web app. Even in offline mode, customers can browse the menu and add items to their shopping cart. As soon as you are back online you can place your orders.
Any industry can use progressive web apps. If you can serve your customers through a website or app, you can also serve them through a PWA.
9 reasons to use a progressive web app
Thanks to the many benefits PWAs offer, there are innumerable reasons why you should be using one. Let's look at nine of the most common.
1. You don't have a developed app yet
Because progressive web apps are easy and cheaper to develop than typical apps, you can have your apps running in no time. If you're starting from scratch, it's probably better to start with a progressive web app as it will get to market faster.
Since it provides most of the core functionality of your website, you can still provide good service and a positive user experience to your customers.
2. Reduce the bounce rates
One of the main reasons for high bounce rates is a sluggish website or app. Users don't want to wait long for a page to load.
This is another great reason to use progressive web apps.
Progressive web apps help reduce bounce rates by providing users with a fast and seamless user experience. Take superbalist for example. By implementing a progressive web app, they were able to reduce their bounce rate by a whopping 21 percent.
3. Increase the time spent on pages
If you want to increase the time users spend on your pages, you can do that with a progressive web app.
People often leave your page if it loads slowly. Because a progressive web app is lightweight and does not consume a lot of resources on a device, pages load quickly.
The transition to another page is also seamless.
This can result in users spending more time on your pages. For example, Pinterest invested in an advanced web app for mobile experiences, which resulted in a 40 percent increase in time spent on pages.
4. Increase speed and reliability
Due to the lack of strong coding and use by service agents, progressive web apps can load information faster than traditional websites. Because fast load times can mean the difference between a conversion and a drop-off, it's important to give users a quick way to interact with your brand.
Aside from speed, PWAs are generally more reliable than traditional websites and apps. By nature, there are fewer things that can go wrong. Since they are network and platform independent, they should work on every platform every time.
5. Increase conversions
One of the main drivers of conversions in today's highly competitive landscape is UX. Progressive web apps are among the platforms with the best UX.
If increasing conversions is important to you, reach out to AliExpress, which has increased its conversion rate for first-time users by 104 percent.
6. You want to optimize for search engines
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important pillars of digital marketing. Every marketer is always on the lookout for strategies to get their brand more visible on search engine results pages (SERPs) and drive organic traffic to their website.
This is one area where progressive web apps outperform native apps.
Native apps cannot be recognized online because they are hosted on users' devices. Since progressive apps are essentially websites, they are seen by search engines.
Findability isn't the only advantage PWAs have over native apps, however. Other advantages are that progressive web apps are:
- Developed for UX
If you want to improve your SEO and give your users a native app-like experience, a progressive web app might be the solution.
7. You want to focus on mobile users
Research shows that mobile devices account for 65 percent of all e-commerce traffic. If you are in an industry that relies heavily on mobile traffic, you will undoubtedly want to take advantage of progressive web apps.
Because your users don't have to download an app, you can get better retention and engagement rates.
Progressive web apps work on any platform, but are particularly useful on mobile devices. Mobile devices can load large websites or heavy apps less, resulting in slow loading speeds and poor UX.
Progressive web apps solve this problem by giving users the same experience without taking up the resources of their device.
8. Improve customer loyalty
There are almost three million apps in the Google Play Store. Unfortunately, for most downloaded apps, only 25 percent of users use a particular app after the day they downloaded it.
Leaving the app is a huge waste of time and resources for the developers and companies that sponsor the development of these apps.
Again, progressive web apps can save the day.
Some reasons progressive web apps help keep users engaged are:
- Easy onboarding: You can easily add the progressive web app to your home screen. No registration is required.
- No download required: With no PWA to download, users don't have to worry about the storage space on their devices. Many apps are uninstalled for this reason.
- Messages: As with native apps, these users will keep you informed of any updates in your company.
Progressive web apps are a great way to get your customers excited about your brand.
9. No monetization restrictions
One of the major limitations of native apps is that Google or Apple must process all in-app financial transactions. No third parties are allowed. For some companies, this arrangement can be restrictive.
With progressive web apps, however, you are not bound by such regulations. You can choose any payment processor of your choice, just like you would on your website. You can also monetize your PWA however you want.
Progressive web apps are the future of web browsing. In addition, they could be the future of the customer experience in the e-commerce world.
That is why you need to invest in developing one for your business.
With many benefits ranging from easy development to improved search engine optimization to creating exceptional user experiences, investing in an advanced web app can be worthwhile.
Have you developed a progressive web app for your company?
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