Half of all the website traffic worldwide occurs through mobile devices, and businesses are taking notice of this fact. Users are opting to do everyday chores like reading the news or buying new products directly from their mobiles rather than through desktop computers or tablets. Thanks to new technologies like Progressive Web Apps (PWA), your business can also reap the benefits of this growing trend, a privilege that was once exclusive of big companies with the financial muscle to develop a native mobile app.
You’re probably asking what is a PWA and how it will impact you. As usual, at Koombea we have the answers to some of the most important questions regarding this crucial topic. We want you to understand some of its benefits and how it can improve your business.
What Is a PWA?
First things first. A native app is one that runs directly on your mobile device. A web app is one that runs on a server and is viewed through a web browser on your mobile. A PWA is basically a mobile app that takes the best of a native app and a website, and integrates them into a powerful solution.
There seems to be no agreement on what exactly a PWA is. However, this does not mean that there aren’t some key characteristics. A PWA retrieves most of the information to be displayed on the screen directly from the internet, making it seem like a regular website. Even though it can be accessed through a website, it can also be downloaded directly into your device with the same look and feel of a native app. If downloaded, it creates an icon on your main screen, just like a native app would.
PWAs differ from native apps in various ways, particularly because in the former most of the processing does not occur directly on your mobile but rather on the server-side of the app. This means that a PWA consumes fewer native resources. As a result, high processing power is no longer necessary, making certain app features available to almost any user regardless of their device. Another important difference is that while a native app needs to be OS specific, a PWA can easily adapt to any OS thanks to its web-like functioning. Additionally, PWAs have the ability to be responsive to any screen.
A PWA has to face some challenges in order to compete against a native app, particularly for the case of users with potent devices. Some of the most outstanding characteristics of a PWA are:
- There is no need to be installed on your mobile device, although this can be easily done. In most cases, a PWA is easier to download than a native app because it does not need to go through an app store.
- They can deliver some basic functions and content even without an Internet connection. This is possible because information is stored in the cache, refreshing only when updates are available or when there is a working internet connection.
- Because they resemble websites, PWAs can deliver a great UX while maintaining the same functionalities of a native app. Amongst these UX features we find improved page load time and its subsequent benefits.
- The possibility to personalize according to users’ preferences. Native apps deliver one size fits all interfaces. Meanwhile, PWAs adapt to each user based on their interactions.
Overall, these characteristics will impact how business is done for app owners and users.
PWAs and the Future of Online Business
By now you’re probably thinking that PWAs are awesome, but you still don’t understand how they will impact you. In general, many businesses will have to adapt to this new technology in order to stay relevant. As it becomes more popular, digital presence will migrate from a native-first strategy to a web-first strategy.
There are a few key points on how businesses can benefit from this:
- Because PWAs can be downloaded directly from the web, they don’t have to go through the bureaucracy of app stores. This has a positive impact on an app’s time to market as well as for further updates. Additionally, this reduces the resources needed to comply with updates and requirements, including app store taxes, thus reducing costs since there is no intermediary between you and the user.
- The cost of developing an app is substantially reduced. Because PWAs are basically websites with added functionalities, they can be developed faster and cheaper than native apps.
- Improved page load time helps increase user engagement and conversions. Many users tend to dismiss an app if it takes too long to load, so reduced load times translate to reduced desertion.
- Content can be targeted towards particular individuals based on usage and consumption patterns. Push notifications can help users engage through the different stages of a given purchase while creating brand awareness.
- Increased security through the use of more secure HTTPS protocols. This is particularly useful to comply with GDPR guidelines and other regulations.
- Better app review data as a result of not having to go through the app store. Review sites will tend to become more important as a result.
- Personalized loyalty programs will be easier to implement thanks to improved UX.
PWAs are here to stay. They offer a combination of the benefits of a native app and a website while adding new features of its own. That is why some of the world’s most important companies like Forbes, Alibaba, and The Washington Post are opting for them. The scope of industries that can potentially adopt them is big, going from retail through entertainment, tourism, FinTech, and media, just to mention a few.
If you want to deliver a great experience to your customers while strengthening your relationship with them, do not hesitate to consider a PWA as your next strategic step. At Koombea we can help you develop that quality PWA that will make you stand out. Contact us for a free consultation!