Progressive Web App Development: Guide for Decision Makers

Wondering if PWAs are good for your project? Here's all you need to know to make an informed decision.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What are Progressive Web Apps and what are their core principles?

  • What is the ROI of PWAs?

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of PWAs?

  • How PWAs improve User Experience with responsive design?

  • Which famous companies switched to PWAs and what are their results?

  • and more..

Introduction

A lot of companies already switched their mobile websites to PWAs and the results are mind-blowing.

Success stories of Progressive Web App development.
Image source

Seems like Progressive Web Apps are a fast track to success. But is that so for every business?

Time to break that topic into simple factors. Explore when PWAs are a good choice and when it’s better to choose another way.

TL;DR

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps use the features of modern browsers to offer functionalities  that are traditionally associated with native apps. They combine features of mobile apps with accessibility and ease of use of a website.

The business impact of PWAs

PWAs help you to expand your reach, build relations, increase conversions, and appear in new markets.

Biggest advantages

Great performance, easy installation, accessibility offline, and low data consumption.

Biggest disadvantages

Issues on iOS and with legacy devices.

PWA or native app?

A PWA means lower cost but possible iOS issues and not every feature you want may be available.

A native app means higher cost but better performance.

How do PWAs impact ROI?

Ali Hackett from Mobify estimated that companies will see a 20 percent boost in revenue thanks to PWAs.

Examples of Progressive Web Apps

  • Starbucks
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter Lite
  • AliExpress

CHAPTER 1:

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps belong to a new generation of web applications. They load like regular websites but take advantage of features like service workers or web app manifests to offer functionalities that traditionally belong to native apps (like push notifications).

They combine the features of mobile apps with the accessibility, discoverability, and ease of use that have been the foundation of the modern Internet.

“Progressive Web Apps use modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience. They evolve from pages in browser tabs to immersive, top-level apps, maintaining the web’s low friction at every moment.”

Google

PWAs allows developers to bring mobile experience to the web. They provide smoother navigation, fast loading time, can be used offline, and pinned to the home screen to be used like mobile apps.

PWAs aren’t limited to specific frameworks and can be built with any framework or none at all.

PWAs from a business point of view

How do Progressive Web Apps support business success?

1. You reach potential customers easily.

Progressive Web Apps work online as websites. It means you can easily apply various marketing and advertising techniques (including SEO) to build your reach and brand at a lower cost. 

2. PWAs allow you to overcome the obstacles that prevent users from downloading the app.

PWAs don’t use much storage, and that’s one of the common reasons users don’t want to download apps or uninstall them. PWAs don’t have to be downloaded from the app store. They are installed directly from a mobile website, and they encourage users to download them.

3. You get a powerful tool to build relations and increase conversions.

PWAs give you the power to engage your users. After installing, they can send push notifications. That’s a powerful tool to increase engagement and conversions, build relations with the audience, as well as to remind them about your brand and support customer retention.

4. You can reach new markets

The fact that PWAs work offline allows you to expand your reach to more markets, where the internet connection is not stable. Plus, that means reliability.

As a consequence of reliability, accessibility, and experience, you get more customers and your conversion rates improve.

CHAPTER 2:

Advantages and disadvantages of Progressive Web App development

Advantages

  • They are reliable and fast, instantly showing the user interface regardless of the network conditions.
  • They work offline. It allows customers to browse products even when they’re not connected to the internet.
  • PWAs provide experience on par with native apps. Users can install them on their device, they have the ability to show custom icons and use device capabilities (e.g. push notifications, camera, Bluetooth).
  • Thanks to using service workers they deliver much better performance than traditional web apps.
  • No installation or manual updates are required. PWAs are app store independent.
  • PWAs can use platform-specific features like push notifications.
  • Low data consumption. PWAs are much smaller than mobile apps, and they require a lot less bandwidth than traditional web apps because they can take much better advantage of caching.
Advantages of Progressive Web Apps.

Disadvantages

  • There are issues connected to compatibility with iOS. You can use PWAs on Apple devices since version 11.3. Some features are still not supported (like Touch ID, Face ID, Bluetooth).
  • There are issues with legacy devices.  Older mobile devices with outdated web browsers don’t support PWAs well.
  • PWAs can’t do everything mobile apps can. Access to some device features may be missing and they are not as battery efficient as apps written natively.
Disadvantages of Progressive Web Apps.
CHAPTER 3:

PWAs vs Native apps

Compare PWA vs native approaches to choose the best one for your project.
CHAPTER 4:

PWAs solve the problems with responsive web design

The responsive web design approach allows web developers to display websites well on devices with small and large screens without the need to maintain a mobile-specific version of the website.

But the problem is that it doesn’t go far enough to fit the whole variety of devices and screens. It doesn’t use progressive enhancements to deliver native features when viewed on any device. Progressive Web Apps solve this problem through their use of service workers.

CHAPTER 5:

Progressive Web App development for iOS – current status

iOS didn’t support PWAs for a long time. Fortunately, that changed. Plus, with iOS 13 many bugs were fixed. However, Safari doesn’t provide an installation prompt from within the app.

CHAPTER 6:

Examples of successful Progressive Web Apps

  • Starbucks
  • AliExpress
  • Alibaba
  • Pinterest
  • Housing.com
  • Twitter Lite
  • Forbes
  • Lancome
  • BookMyShow
CHAPTER 7:

Improving ROI with PWAs: cases

One of the best success stories connected to Progressive Web App development is the AliExpress case. The company struggled to convince users to download their mobile app – they preferred to purchase on the website. Therefore AliExpress decided to use the broad reach of their website and build a PWA. Conversion rates for new users increased by 104%.

Housing.com has a similar story: a PWA helped them to increase conversion rates by 38% and visitors started to return more often.

Based on her industry experience, Ali Hackett from Mobify estimated that companies will see a 20 percent boost in revenue thanks to PWAs and delivering faster, more app-like experiences with them.

Success stories of Progressive Web App development.
Image source

Key take-aways:

Mobile presence is a must for anyone who wishes to be noticed but developing and maintaining both website and mobile apps for Android and iOS is often a struggle. PWAs solve that problem: you develop only one app.

Reliability, accessibility, and excellent experience is what users want. Combining it with low storage use, means you answer fundamental users’ needs.

PWAs seem to be a perfect solution for e-commerce, thanks to offline availability and fast experience.

However, if a large part of your audience uses iOS, analyze which features your app needs and check if a PWA can provide that. If not, consider hybrid or native app development.

Next steps

Proceed to the next chapters of this handbook to explore differences between native apps and PWAs in more detail, and learn more about the features of PWAs. 

Plus, new content is coming soon. We’ll be talking about frameworks that can be used for PWA development and the business benefits that come from push notifications. Sign up for updates on the left.

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