Why choose PWA as your next tech stack?
While Web traffic is increasingly shifting to mobile, Progressive Web Applications (PWA) come as a result of the demand consumers have for faster browsing experiences. The technology to support this experience has been available for some time now. This means that PWAs are not based on new tech, but rather are based on existing tech being utilized in new ways demanded by recent industry development and consumer demands. PWAs are also great for early adopters.
What is PWA?
PWA comes as a ready solution for users who need instant access to online data, even when they are on the go, and with high efficiency limited only by imagination. Today’s average consumer is a proven tech-savvy user who is ready to embrace this recent innovation that is about to take over the online and ecommerce market by storm.
Here is how and why we think the PWA tech will change the way we perceive data exchange, online commerce and conversion.
Limitations of Mobile
The benefits of mobile are mostly concentrated around the mobility factor, and the down sides involve compromises with the connection speed or performance. However, one of mobile’s biggest limitations coincidentally works as one of its biggest advantages, especially over desktop – we are talking about its ability to display voluminous content despite the limitations set by mobile screen size or ratio.
It seems counter intuitive, but when the communication channel is limited by volume and size, the messages are forced to make it even clearer, by turning into an optimized version of themselves. One great example is the twitter feed, where the 140 characters limit is forcing authors to refine and revise their messages in ways that make them all the easier to get and digest.
Making the message clear, however, takes a bit more effort than what a mere automation can provide. One such automation is the pre-PWA method for converting user interfaces from desktop to mobile called Responsive Web Design (RWD). RWD is a top-down approach used to concise visually widespread content and make it suitable for viewing on mobile devices.
The major flaw with RWD is that the content is literally squished to match the smaller display area. Although this method would have been a perfect solution for an AI user, it turns out to be a terrible solution for humans. In order to make content suitable for people, this conversion requires a complete content changeover, and an elegant one too.
This shrinking technique carries even more flaws: When a big screen content gets converted into one suitable for a smaller screen size, this usually results into a code that is only but a modified version of the original desktop code. This effectively means that the reworked code, even if nicely optimised, will most likely still hold unnecessary remnants of the original version and eventually strain the overall mobile resource capabilities and performance.
The RWD is also unable to rework the unique mobile experience created by innate mobile functionalities like camera, microphone or GPS.
Mobile users are not used to accepting the ‘one size fits all’ scheme which is unfortunately embedded in the philosophy of RWD and other similar quick-fix techniques.
Native Apps Limitations
Native apps are created with a specific purpose in mind and are built around the inbuild hardware features of any mobile device. They emerge to address a specific need or purpose, but they end up wasting a lot of precious time that the user will otherwise eagerly invest into something that matters.
The time-consuming setbacks begin early, before you even get to use the actual application. Apps need to be located first, using the respective app store, but not before a carefully planned research and comparison. After the inferiors and the unworthy copycats flooding the app store get weeded out, the chosen app needs to be downloaded and installed. For security reasons, among other things, native apps usually also require you to register and login. You confirm your email address and hopefully you are now ready to finally get to use the product.
Native apps take full advantage of data transfer and they usually constantly drain mobile data in the background too. With all the factors considered, they turn out to be very expensive in the long run, and that does not even include the literal downtime from user’s perspective. The paradox emerges from the fact that a lot of time gets wasted on requirements that are initially created to save time. Also, native apps are made for specific Operating Systems too, while PWAs can work on any device or browser.
Another trend with native apps is that they get devaluated with a mind-bending speed. Apps are sometimes easily neglected short after being downloaded, or are installed but rarely, or never used afterwards. They are the temporary necessity that – like any new toy – is rejected and forgotten soon after being acquired. This poses the question about whether their investment was worthy and if they managed to facilitate the changing lifestyle of the user.
PWA is the Future
The rate of revenues and conversion increase generated through mobile web are proportionally much smaller than the increase rate of use of mobile devices. While around half of all online users are already using smartphones, only about one in every fifty users is using it specifically for personal or commercial transactions. Mobile apps, despite amounting for only a small fraction of all web traffic, are generating substantially better conversion rates. This is a clear example that mobile screen size is not the main reason why people are still a bit reluctant when it comes to doing buying and selling on mobile phones.
Why Choose PWA?
PWAs are the ideal hybrid between what a regular website has to offer and a mobile application. The nature of this technology happens to directly address the ongoing problems with conversion rates and commerce that mobile users currently experience.
PWAs bring users and services closer together through smooth and quick interaction. This is all made possible through a fluid interface that previously was exclusive only to custom mobile apps.
New and improved user experience is practically embedded in the cleaner interface run on PWA. The progressive part in PWA part suggestive to how already existing technology is being used in an innovative and intuitive way.
Conversion rates are tightly related to how fast a web site can get content on display. Site loading speed turns out to be detrimental to how potential buyers behave. A mere one or two second delay on the content load could mean the difference between hitting that ‘checkout’ button and closing that browser window and moving on. With other important factors somewhat equalized, a customer will prefer the web store of the company who made their web page show up faster than that of their competition which loads slowly.
Not having to constantly be plugged in the grid saves a lot of resources. This makes PWAs shine in regions where limited connectivity is common and low bandwidth mobile data plans are preferred option.
The way progressive apps take advantage of networks with limited connectivity pairs up nicely with their innate ability to limit the requirements for total storage space. This fact helps facilitate the overall performance capabilities of all the devices that mobile users already have and are comfortable using.
PWAs can be accessed just like any of your existing native apps, which most likely are not being used as much as intended. Unlike native apps, PWAs are not restricted by the device’s OS. With download and install downtime out of the way, you can launch a PWA directly from your phone screen.
When it comes to maintenance, PWA update themselves similarly to live websites, and not like the periodic sync and check relationships regular apps undertake with the main app store. Apart from the way they update, PWAs have another common feature with regular websites – they are supported by all major browsers like Chrome and Firefox.
PWA Benefits to eMerchants
Web users are not the only ones benefiting from the innovative way progressive apps handle data exchange. On the other side of the communication network stand the merchants. The higher levels of engagement and ease of access of PWA has made their use in online business so much easier. Clients can seamlessly search, find and purchase whatever they want, faster and less cumbersome than ever before. This is great for merchants - the low developmental costs related to progressive apps only makes investment in them even more lucrative.
With PWAs people can browse merchandise quicker and with more efficiency – getting to what they were looking for faster than before. This naturally leads to increased sales, and for several reasons. For one, there are more opportunities for a customer to make a good purchase even within a limited time frame. This effectively means that whoever decided they were going to make a purchase and were not delayed or demotivated - they most likely are now some merchant’s happy customer. The usability factor further increases buyer’s potential – a happy customer is prone to spend a little more, for example, adding that extra item in the shopping cart. It’s easy to understand the psychological drive behind this simple mechanic.
Besides consumers and providers, PWAs are favoured by another faction – class developers. When new technology emerges, it usually attracts the most skilled representatives in the field, as they are most adept in getting used to it and start using it to its fullest potential. The best designers and back-end developers are eager to become part of this emerging trend and this makes PWA a very attractive area for building a professional career too.
Another reason that developers are interested in making progressive apps is the fact PWAs are not required to be listed on web stores. This fact alone enables app makers to literally spread their wings and build the best apps, unrestricted by requirements set by the app store or related third-party policies.
Industry is Embracing Mobile
PWA is quickly growing to become an industry standard. This is aided by hard facts like the MS store guidelines that favour the development of progressive apps (they even rebranded their existing ‘Web Hosted Apps’ into PWAs), or by Google’s standard dating from 2018 about loading speed being a crucial ranking factor.
The online industry has turned a watchful eye towards this technology, recognizing that speed of access and ease of use are what soon will be recognized as a must-have standard. Leading industry giants like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Forbes, have already recognized the power behind PWAs and have already set in motion plans for increasing the development of such apps.
Are you PWA ready?
The benefits of PWA are self-evident, but how can you tell if your website is ready to adopt it? We came up with the basics:
First, it’s good to establish if your current website clearly communicates the ideas and intent to your visitors. Navigation and ease of access is key – can you online users get to what they are looking for, and can they get there fast, easy and without unnecessary delays? Your web traffic metrics can be put into good use too – if more than half of your visitors reached your site using a mobile device, this means two things: 1) your website must be mobile friendly and 2) can relatively easily be prepped for the transition to progressive. In all other cases you need to carefully consider using existing resources: is it really worth continuing to put resources in your existing mobile unfriendly web tool, or is it time to jump-start your business and become one of the preferred online merchants with a brand new PWA…
Although the overall cost for PWAs is less than that of native apps, a careful planning can really tell how much lesser. The ROI factor can really decide if you are to re-channel your existing efforts from native apps toward a progressive one. With time, the demand for a transition will become more apparent, better act quick and make that initial financial assessment. PWAs are here to stay and will eventually save you a considerable amount of money.