Why should you as a marketer care what progressive web app is? There are many reasons like the emergence of marketing technology and marketers are estimated to spend more than CTOs in tech in near future.
That does come with certain requirements. Such as understanding what are the capabilities on different technological solutions and their limitations. There aren’t one size fits all or a software which will solve all your marketing challenges. For this exact reason I have compiled this blog post to tell you about progressive web apps. What are they, what are the capabilities, limitations and some examples.
PWA in Short
From Google. Progressive Web Apps are user experiences that feel like a mobile app, and are:
- Reliable – they load instantly as you can “install” them on your device’s home screen. This gives the advantage of them not relying on internet connection so much.
- Fast – They respond fast to user interaction and feel smoother than a traditional web app.
- Engaging – The feeling of natural app with an engaging user experience will make it easier to engage your customers or prospects over and over again.
Due to these factors you can earn a place on your customers home screen. As progressive web apps are installed on device’s home screen it enables instant load and no need for an app store. You can use push notifications even through them!
Another great thing about PWA’s is the cost. Building a native mobile app for all mobile operating systems costs a pretty penny but progressive web app is cost-efficient.
As a cherry on top. The content of PWA is indexable by search engines – native apps aren’t.
Meaning of Progressive Web App
There are certain requirements to be filled when calling a web app a progressive web app.
- Progressive – Works for everyone regardless of browser.
- Responsive – Works seamlessly regardless of screen size.
- Connectivity independent – With service workers it works offline or with bad internet connection.
- App-like – It feels like an app.
- Fresh – Service workers keep it always updated.
- Safe – Served via HTTPS to keep connections secure.
- Discoverable – Search engines find them and index the content.
- Re-engaging – Features to re-engage users through push notifications for example.
- Installable – User can “install” apps on their home screen without app store interaction.
- Linkable – Shareable via URL and no complex installation process.
PWA vs Web App
A lot of the features listed above are not possible with traditional web apps which is the reason for creation of progressive web apps.
- Connection only online – Not accessible when offline
- Only web and not app-like – Runs only on the web and inside another app. In this case Chrome.
- Not re-engageable – Only works when the browser is open with the web app in it.
- No installation possibility – Possibility to add a shortcut to your home screen but requires internet connection to load the app and to work.
PWA vs Native App
Native apps require far bigger investment to develop and maintain while progressive web apps are the opposite. Both sides have their downsides also.
- Not responsive – only works on mobile.
- Updating hassle – updates only through app store.
- Safety – App store quality control is not bullet proof and ads dealt through the mobile app can he malicious. HTTPS doesn’t ensure this either but does it better in some cases.
- Not linkable – Only links goes directly to app store and not the order fulfillment funnel for example.
Battery consumption is higher with PWA’s than it is with native apps. This comes from the fact that native apps are developed with single operating system in mind and with programming language that are meant for that OS. Progressive web apps are build for web mainly with the addition of them being able to be “installed” on the device’s home screen.
PWA’s being indexed by search engines brings more visibility in search engines and provide you with added boost to your marketing efforts.
With PWA’s working exactly similar in browser environment on mobile as they would when they are “installed” it removes the additional hurdle of having a person install an app before using your services. When person is happy with the experience and are prompted with a pop-up to add the site to their home screen they can be more likely to do so.
This removes the challenge of native apps where users often use the app only once after installing it. PWA doesn’t have such a hurdle. For example Aliexpress increased their conversions of new users on Android by 104% and iOS by 82%.
How Progressive Web Apps Work?
They work through things called Service Workers and App Shell. Service workers are what powers progressive web apps and they can be as confusing as they are powerful. App shell is stored in browser’s cache and allows almost immediate access the the app from home screen. In the picture below there is a process flow about how progressive web apps work. For a marketer there isn’t really any point to go deeper. Unless you are interested in the technical aspect and want to try creating one by yourself.
There aren’t that many examples of progressive web apps yet but I have collected here few. One is closer than you thought (if you live in Finland and especially in the capital region.)
Does it makes sense to build a progressive web app for your business? This is a question where there isn’t one defining answer. If you have massive budget then I’d say no and go wit native application. Also progressive web app is still in development phase in terms of its technology which can make it slightly more risky.
I don’t have an answer for you but if you find a great example please let me know so I can take a look at how it is done in terms of marketing and customer experience.