The Case for Progressive Web Apps

This graph shows website total US visit statistics

On March 26th, 2018, Google officially announced that they would be using mobile first indexing. This means that it’s more important than ever for businesses to engage mobile users. Over the past 5 years, mobile internet use has risen to equal and dramatically overtake desktop online browsing. By the end of 2018, mobile device browsing is projected to account for 2/3 of all online traffic. [1]

Over the past 5 years the use of native mobile apps has also risen, but the mobile app industry has hit a plateau. The abandonment rate for native mobile apps is astonishingly high, with only 20% of users continuing to engage an app after 90 days. [2]

Some of the reasons for high abandonment include:
  • apps that crash
  • apps that take too long to upgrade or download
  • apps that spam users with in-app ads
  • apps that aren’t visually appealing
  • apps with a week use case
  • apps that are simply forgotten by the user

While a properly designed and engaging mobile app can be very profitable, many businesses avoid investing in native mobile applications because they are expensive, take a long time to develop and are a pain to distribute. As a compromise, most businesses focus on making their company websites mobile responsive. While this is important and required of any serious website today, properly designed mobile apps offer desirable usability features that can enhance the user experience and, a mobile responsive site can be impacted by issues like slow loading times and unavailability.

Enter, Progressive Mobile Applications

A business that has already invested in an expensive native mobile app, or a business which has a functioning mobile responsive website may not see the immediate benefit of paying for a PWA. PWA’s are still mostly a new or unheard of concept in the general business landscape and among consumers. This presents a challenge and an opportunity. As a business selling PWA development services, your job will be to demonstrate the benefits of PWA’s over server-hosted mobile responsive websites and native mobile applications. If you can do this successfully, you have the opportunity to position you and your business as a trusted authority in this evolving space.

Below are two examples of major problem cases that PWA’s can successfully solve for your future customers:

Problem: Mobile Site Loading Times

In a 2016 DoubleClick report Google revealed that the average load time for a mobile responsive site was 19 seconds. Over 50% of visitors to mobile sites abandoned a site that didn’t load after 3 seconds and 49% of people surveyed stated that waiting for a site to load was their least favorite part of shopping online. [3]

PWA Advantage

One of the biggest benefits of PWA’s for consumers (and businesses) is that they load much faster than server-hosted sites and applications. Alibaba.com, the world’s largest online business-to-business trading platform, saw a 76% rise in conversions and four times higher interaction rates after it upgraded its mobile site to a PWA. International beauty retailer Lancôme saw a 53% increase in session length and its bounce rates dropped by a full 10% amongst iPhone users. [4]

Problem: Mobile App Abandonment

This graph shows mogile app abandonment statisticsAs mentioned earlier, retention rates for native mobile apps are incredibly poor. If you look at some of the issues that consumers complain about, several of these can be linked to native mobile apps’ dependence on specific vendors and platforms. In particular, distribution of mobile apps is limited to a very small collection of major mobile app vendor’s, and for consumers to use a company’s app, they must leave an app retailer’s portal, access an app vendor’s store, download the app, install the app, and then choose to open and use it.

If a consumer becomes a habitual user of an app, their experience and the use of their mobile device, can be disrupted by regular updates and even crashes. These events all present barriers to initial use and continued use of a mobile app.

PWA Advantage

PWA’s provide a light-weight instant- access alternative to the native mobile app experience. By being vendor and platform agnostic, a PWA can be deployed to allow consumers the opportunity to engage instantly without committing to a lengthy download and installation experience. Consumers can continue to use the app without disruption as it quietly updates in the background, or and continues to function even if the mobile device they are using is not connected to the Web. These benefits translate into dramatically increased engagement and conversion rates across industries. [5]

Further, because PWA’s are not locked to a vendor, they are searchable and easily shared among consumers online which increases the opportunity for companies to use more sophisticated marketing than disruptive in-app ads.

List of Marketable PWA Benefits for Consumers and Businesses

For Customers:
  • Faster loading speeds
  • Instantly available
  • No need to download an app
  • Extremely lightweight in comparison to native apps
  • Runs without an internet connection
For Businesses:
  • Quick way to deploy mobile app demos
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Push messaging
  • Server independent
  • Platform agnostic
  • Discoverable online through search (not platform locked)
  • Highly sharable and linkable via URL
  • Indexable by search engines
  • Responsive
  • Secure since it loads over HTTPS
  • 40% and greater re-engagement rates

Our Web Development Team Is Ready To Get Started

In summary, Progressive Web Applications (PWA) offer many benfits to both businesses and consumers. The ease of which existing applications can be modified or new applications created make PWA a wise choice. Contact us to discuss your project. We can't wait to hear from you!