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A Better Way to Reach Your Mobile Users: Introducing Progressive Web Apps

Mark Boyd, Senior Developer
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The rise of Mobile

Mobile device usage is on the rise and only going to increase each year. According to a report by We Are Social, mobile devices now account for 52% of web traffic, which is a larger share of the web traffic market than traffic from all other devices combined. The desktop/laptop has been replaced by the mobile device as the primary way that users interact with the web.

Given the rise of mobile device usage, one of the most critical questions facing any organization today is how to effectively engage with their mobile users.

Enter Progressive Web Apps. PWAs are a very new technology that builds upon the success of the web as a platform while enabling deeper engagement with mobile users, and there is every reason to believe in their future success. As mobile usage continues to rise, organizations adopting PWAs will be well positioned to reach an ever-growing segment of the market.

Good for business

PWAs are not just an interesting technology, they are good for business. According to a Google case study, Alibaba.com saw a 76% rise in conversions and four times higher interaction rate after it upgraded its mobile site to a PWA. Similarly, MakeMyTrip, a travel booking site in India, saw overall conversion rate triple and a 160% increase in shopper sessions when they launched a PWA.

Reaching mobile users: Mobile web vs Mobile apps

The advent of techniques like Responsive Web Design have made it easier for organizations to create a web experience that feels natural on a mobile device. And for organizations seeking to create a more integrated mobile experience for their users, technologies like React Native have significantly lowered the barriers to native application development for mobile platforms (or what is typically referred to as “apps” or “mobile apps”).

However, there are still trade-offs for any organization considering a native application:

  • Complex build and release processes

  • Maintenance cost and developer specialization

But the biggest loss for users when opting for native applications instead of the mobile web is all of the inherent benefits of the web as a platform: searchability of content and linkability. Furthermore, precisely because native applications are less discoverable than the mobile web, significant marketing resources may have to be expended to foster user adoption of a mobile application.

Reaching Mobile Users with Progressive Web Apps

For those who want the power of native applications without losing benefits of the web, there is a solution: Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). PWAs are a new, special class of websites that can have a lot of functionality that was previously limited to only native applications, including:

  • Quick startup
  • Home screen icon
  • Splash screen
  • Push notifications
  •  Offline experiences
  • App store downloads

But the best part about PWAs is, unlike native applications, they are still fundamentally websites. You can search for them, link to them, and access them as usual. And from the technical perspective, they are built on the basic technologies of the web: HTML, CSS, and Javascript. So the effort to build and to maintain them is much, much lower than a native application.

The important thing to keep in mind is that your Progressive Web App is not a separate entity than your website, it is your website which has been given some superpowers. As Alex Russell has said, Progressive Web Apps are “just websites that took all the right vitamins”.

If you think a PWA might be a good fit for your organization, we’d love to talk to you

 

Mark Boyd

Senior Developer