2017 has been a great year for mobile webs. which have enabled content to be delivered rapidly, have muscled their way to the top of the Google search results. According to Comscore, 52% of mobile media engagement made via using apps. Google is willing to blur the lines between a mobile website and the native app experience, with the introduction of Progressive Web Apps (PWA).
There is a problem with the traditional mobile web
Think about how quickly some of your favourite apps (Facebook, Instagram or BBC news) load on your mobile phone. A world of information is available almost instantly with just one tap. Now think about that experience through your web browser. One tap to open the browser, another tap for the address bar, a few more to enter the URL (assuming you know it, if you don’t, be prepared to search), and then you need to wait while the website loads. What makes this worse is that mobile internet connections are fickle and often slow. According to Google, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if it takes longer than three seconds for them to load. It doesn’t make for a great experience and it’s especially not ideal if your business relies on mobile traffic to survive. So this is where Progressive Web Apps (PWA) make sense.
Introducing Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps solve this problem really effectively by combining the best of the web and native applications (apps), PWA’s require no installation, is fast, feature rich and is both engaging and helps boost conversions.
Some of the biggest brands in the world are already reaping the benefits: Forbes’ PWA increased impressions per visit by 10%. Alibaba increased mobile conversions by 76% and Twitter saw a 20% decrease in bounce rate. Now even Starbuck and Trivago are in on the act. Here are my top five features that make this such an enticing prospect for publishers, online stores, and news outlets. Here are my top five features that make this such an enticing prospect for publishers, online stores, and news outlets.
1. Full-screen native app experience
PWA’s bring many of the benefits of a native app experience without making sacrifices for devices that do not support them.
With PWA, websites are now loaded with a full-screen experience on Android web browsers and safari is catching up soon. Users will now see more of your site on the screen, complete with a splash of branding added in for good measure. This gives your website much more presence and a stronger brand identity.
2. Add to home screen
PWA’s prompt users to add the website (web app) to their home screen, complete with icon and branding. This is the first step in creating a similar native experience. Once the website (web app) is on the home screen (with no installation required), it will look and feel just like any other app. A prominent presence for minimal effort.
3. Works even when offline
PWA’s can work with a limited connection, just like a native app! Your content is always going to be available, no matter how poor the user’s connection may get.
4. Push notifications
Some of the best features for publishers are the interactivity options that mimic a native app experience like push notifications that allow users to engage with publisher’s content in a way that normal websites can’t. Push notifications will appear in the user’s notification bar, in the same way, that notifications generall work. Publishers have full control over what they want to “push” to users and when they want to do it. At the moment it works for Android and Apple iOS will be releasing a version to allow PWA’s to send push notifications.
5. New features are being added all the time
There are many more benefits to be had from adding PWA functionality to your site, speed and performance improvements, enhanced functionality beyond those outlined here, plus more being added all the time. Google is actively working on this tech and more and more sites are adopting this concept to make their mobile experiences more dynamic, more user-friendly and better for their customers.
Can I use this now?
Support right now is improving. Google is leading the way and Chrome on Android devices (for the most part) have full integration; with Safari on iOS, sadly, lagging behind, but is under development.
All of this is great news for the future of mobile web development, and due to the progressive nature and ease of incorporating this functionality into existing websites and workflows, there is no reason whatsoever not to start using this technology right now.