Progressive Web Apps 101 & Why They’ll Replace Native Mobile Apps


Progressive Web Apps 101

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a set of best practices that together create a seamless user experience between a web application and a native mobile app. A user can download and install a PWA through their browser and enjoy the application’s functionality and features offline, from any of their devices.

Progressive Web Applications were created to help users cope with problems such as slow Internet speed, website load times, high friction among users, and low user engagement. Progressive Web Apps have several features that help alleviate these problems: 

  • PWA’s are fast: The data stored in the app is cached, so there is no need to rely on a network when starting up or engaging with the app. 53 percent of users abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load, so ensuring efficient load times is crucial to a positive user experience. 

  • PWA’s are integrated: PWAs live on a user’s home screen, send push notifications, and integrate with a device’s other native apps. For example, Twitter Lite was developed as a PWA and experienced a 75 percent increase in tweets sent. Another example can be found with Etsy’s PWA: it allows users to track their account activity and communicate with other buyers and sellers without reliance on a network connection. 

  • PWA’s are reliable: Service workers use PWA’s to effectively troubleshoot any problems, regardless of the network connection. This enables them to work more efficiently and confidently. 

  • PWA’s are engaging: Through push notifications, companies can keep users engaged on and offline by sending information, calling-to-action a specific ask, or updating the user on new features. 

Because of the advantageous attributes listed above, the entire user experience is immersive and fluid. 

Why Build a Progressive Web App? 

Beyond the features listed above, developing a Progressive Web App is an important consideration for any business to grow and engage with their customers in the future. It used to be that developing a native app and/or a responsive website was enough to get by. In 2019, PWA’s are a hybrid of both, and offer plenty of benefits to the organization and to the end user. Below are three of the benefits of developing and integrating a PWA: 

  • PWA’s are easily discoverable: Because search engines index PWAs as a website, a variety of layers within the PWA are indexed and discoverable as their own component parts. This greatly increases SEO readability and the chances of your PWA being searched and found online. 
  • PWA’s don’t require tedious manual updates: Because PWAs don’t live on an app store or require installation, updates to the information and functionality of them are simply published and the user has immediate access to the new information. This functionality also tremendously helps out businesses and their user acquisition strategies, as there are less barriers between their users and the offering. 
  • PWAs save on data usage with offline functionality: In markets with expensive and/or slow internet access, offline functionality can be extremely important to an end user. Inefficient apps can also be detrimental to your battery life and overall functionality of your experience. Therefore the ability to get value out of a PWA without having to use data or rely on a network connection is one reason why they are the future of businesses everywhere. 

These three advantages are only a few on a long list of ways that PWA’s are changing organizations and their strategies for engaging and interacting with their users. 

Why Will Progressive Web Apps Replace Native Apps? 

Although native apps still dominate the online landscape, PWAs may soon replace native apps as the top priority in connecting with users. Because mobile-first development is the way of the future, having a PWA to ensure the speed, reliability and functionality of an experience will be important in staying relevant and top-of-mind in the mobile app world.

From an organizational perspective, there are a few obvious reasons why PWAs are the future: 

  1. Native App stores are endlessly flooded with apps and difficult to navigate. If your app doesn’t land on a top list somewhere, it is difficult or users to find you. 94 percent of revenue in the App Store comes from just 1 percent of all publishers. The chances of you monetizing your native app are limited. 
  2. Search Engine Ranking: As mentioned above, search engines can find your PWA through strong SEO and links that are easy to share with your network. The everyday user relies on search engines to find answers to their questions, and if your PWA has answers for them, they will find you. Whereas with a native app, you are relying on the user to discover and learn about you through searching an app store. 
  3. Native apps are expensive to develop and are risky. If your users aren’t interested or don’t use the app to its full potential, you may never get back the time, energy and money spent developing it. 
  4. Retaining users is hard. Downloads are one thing, but if users to continuously engage with your app and use it to its full capabilities, you’ve wasted your money. PWAs offer a much lighter experience and offer offline access, greatly increasing your chances of retaining users and having them use your PWA extensively. 

From a user perspective, there are a few obvious reasons why PWAs are the future: 

  1. Native apps account for 80 percent of mobile time, proving users want to interact with an app interface. PWAs offer an app interface without the reliance on network or data storage. 
  2. PWAs combine what users love about apps – the app shell, offline access, telephony features, navigation bar, and they gives users a more convenient way to experience them. 
  3. PWA’s are accessible. In a recent Forbes article it was written that 70% of global economic growth is forecasted from parts of the world with weak network connectivity. The emergence of this new wave of consumers will greatly benefit from the ability to access your product or service offline through a PWA. 
  4. There isn’t much information out there that contradicts the ideas in this article that prove Progressive Web Apps are the future of business. Their lean and efficient abilities are most appealing when compared to traditional native apps or websites. It will likely be years before PWAs completely replace native apps, but the smart investment is to start thinking about how you use them to better engage with your audience and introduce yourself to new ones. 

At iTexico, Nearshore Software Development  developing progressive web apps are a strength of ours in which we take great pride. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help through our mobile app development services, please contact us.

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