Native apps have always been a dominant force on mobile and have created some very successful companies. But Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) offer qualities that native apps can’t match. PWA’s will be a significant, impactful force in the mobile world in 2018 for three key reasons: accessibility, better use of resources, and user value.
No matter how much money and time you spend and how great your app experience is, it’s only as good as the number of users you convince to download it.
You can craft a clever splash page or have a great app-related pitch to consumers when they visit your brick-and-mortar store, but you’re asking any new potential app user to undergo some obstacles before they can download and enjoy a native app experience.
First, the user has to learn about and recognize your app’s existence. Then, they have to search for the app in the app store. If you’re lucky enough, the user will find your app and press the download button. The next step includes waiting for the download to be complete and accept the permissions.
All of these obstacles, between a user discovering your native app and pressing the download icon, present opportunities for that user to abandon what they were doing. The sad truth is that app download abandonment rates are roughly 25% after just one use of the app.
Accessibility of PWAs goes beyond just circumventing the app store process. Connecting to a PWA requires a simple URL, which means you can launch into a mobile experience by simply pressing on a link.
Better Use of Resources
Part of the reason that PWAs require fewer resources to develop is that you only need to create one version. Native apps are named so because they require a “native” programming language to run. Thus, developing a single native app can mean creating several different versions of that same app, to appease the programming languages of each unique platform that you plan to release the app on. There are many white label app programs that allow you to build and maintain a PWA at a minimal cost.
The resource-saving power of a PWA doesn’t stop at just development. PWA’s are also lighter on the user-side as well, concerning storage, data usage, and other aspects. For example, Twitter’s progressive web app, Twitter Lite, has been able to achieve all of Twitter’s development goals for the web-based app: faster loading, better user engagement, and less data consumption.
Their app has helped engagement by increasing page views by 65% and increasing the volume of Tweets sent by 75%. Lite users also found fast load times, especially after repeat visits, thanks to dedicated script worker scripts.
Twitter Lite also reduces data consumption for users that aren’t on a Wi-Fi connection. PWA’s optimizes images, links, videos and other forms of media so that they require less data to display as the user scrolls through their feed.
Consumers want mobile experiences from their favorite brands and normally those experiences are best served from a native mobile app. But it’s a big commitment to go through the steps to download an app. PWA’s can deliver a similar experience to native apps without the download. This reduced friction can provide the same value to a lot more customers.
Most of the tools and functions that users have long enjoyed accessing in native apps can also be found in PWAs. A lot of branded native apps can have most of their features housed in a PWA.
One of the drawbacks of the PWA experience is performance. Because native apps are downloaded and run directly from the device, they have access to far more processing power, which helps run richer, robust features. That said, PWA technology is still in its infancy and, as more time passes, the differences between PWA and native app features will diminish.
PWA’s are an entirely new channel of that mobile experience, which businesses, both large and small, will need to leverage to engage new and old customers in fresh ways. The businesses that stand to gain the most out of a PWA experience are the ones that recognize it as a channel with unique benefits and valuable opportunities distinct from the native app experiences.
Progressive web apps are going to be a definite and transformative force to the mobile experience. Their ability to quickly connect more users to an app experience using far fewer resources makes them an invaluable addition to a mobile-first approach. This helps create a more valuable app experience for users and ultimately raises mobile to the next level.
About the Author
Andrew Gazdecki is the Founder and CEO of Bizness Apps, a company that helps small businesses to build mobile solutions to compete with big brands. Their mobile app building platform makes it possible for everyone to create a mobile app for their businesses. Many of their customers are mobile app resellers (marketing or design agencies) that use Bizness Apps platform to cost effectively build mobile apps for small business clients.