The Case for the Progressive Web App in 2020

There’s no denying that the iPhone established the foundations for how we now interact with mobile devices and set the stage for the explosion of mobile applications that can be downloaded from the online stores of each of the major proprietary platforms. While native mobile applications have been the primary software tools for leveraging the full range of mobile device functionality, the game changed in 2015 when two Google employees created what they called a “progressive web application.” 

From that point forward, the programming community has increasingly embraced this form of software design, raising the question, are progressive web apps truly an innovative approach to application design, or a fad that should fade from use? In this blog, Charlotte’s premier web app development agency Apex Technology provides an overview of how progressive web apps are different from native applications and explores the question of whether the advantages progressive web apps have over native apps are enough for progressive web apps to become the primary software format on mobile devices.  

Why Developers Believe Progressive Web Apps Are the Future

Progressive web applications (PWAs) look and feel like a native application, but instead of being a self-contained piece of software that has to be installed from the appropriate app store, PWAs are actually accessed through the browser on your phone and exist as a part of the company’s website. PWAs are built on HTML and CSS and leverage interactivity-focused web technologies such as JavaScript. By doing this, companies can merge the fast, responsive experience of a native web application with the API-driven e-commerce backend. 

Eliminating the gap between inbound marketing and the sales conversion process, PWAs allow companies to leverage a new ecommerce strategy known as headlness commerce, thus increasing conversions and maximizing the user’s desire for fast, efficient experiences with the brand in the ecommerce process. Using this progressive web application approach to creating the buyer’s journey provides companies with several additional benefits.

Companies Can Extend Their Audience Reach

Progressive web applications are built to function across every browser and to adapt the onscreen presentation to the size of the device screen upon which they are being viewed. They are built around a single web link and become easily shareable across social media channels, in emails, and by text message. And once received, they simply load and open to the browser, rather than requiring multiple steps to download and open. 

Save Time, Costs in the Development Process

Google, Apple, and other phone manufacturers all create devices that run on proprietary operating systems. In order to program native applications that are accessible to the widest possible audience, mobile app developers have to essentially create, maintain, and update at a minimum two full versions of the same application that can work on each of the target operating systems. Progressive web applications, however, can have this full range of functionality and compatibility built into a single piece of software, with updates and maintenance performed and pushed out to the website as needed without impacting the user experience or requiring lengthy update downloads. 

Time is Money, and PWAs are Remarkably Fast

Native web applications are meaty, with file sizes ranging from a few MB to several gigabytes in size. For the average mobile user, in the time it takes to download such large applications to their mobile devices, they’ve likely already moved on to another activity and might not go back to your app, resulting in a lost conversion in the process of trying to access your brand. Progressive web applications, built on web technologies that are naturally light-weight with target loading times of under 3 seconds, can actually deliver an almost instantaneous and seamless customer experience. This can mean massive increases in conversion rates and increased bottom-line profitability. 

Properly Leveraged, The Cons of PWAs Don’t Impact Conversion Rates 

As with any web-based technology, there are limitations that some consider deal-breakers for progressive web applications. With a loss of progress if the PWA is reloaded, a lack of presence on the app store, and no access to some mobile device bells and whistles, there is a limited versatility to the experience a PWA can provide. However, at Apex Technology, we understand the powerful impact leveraging a well-designed progressive web application across social media and other inbound marketing channels can have on increasing conversion rates by creating a headless commerce experience. Let our application integration specialist help you shift your customer experience from a native application to a progressive web application experience, and see the results for yourself.