Strategic DigitaLab
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In an age where brick-and-mortar have digital equivalents—many of them apps—the traditional shopping centre has gone to the small screen. People now have the liberty to curate their own malls, handpicking only which stores, or apps, they want to keep on their phone, constrained only by the device’s memory.

That said, it’s tough to get people to download an app—they are creatures of habit. In fact, mobile users in Singapore install 115 apps but only use 46 of these, according to The State of Mobile by App Annie.

To make it more difficult for new brands to break through, the most downloaded are practically already household names: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Grab Food topping the list. Meanwhile, the apps with the highest active monthly users are WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram—all social or communication tools.

With this barrier to entry, what is a solution for new companies to offer the same user experience without the hurdle of app store distribution? This is where Progressive Web Apps come in.

What does Progressive Web App mean?

Progressive Web Applications or PWA are web pages that look and feel like an app. They are accessible through URLs and indexed by search engines, and typically fetch a prompt from the browser asking a user to “Add to Home Screen.” Progressive Web Apps are installable and live on the user’s home screen, without the need for an app store, and offer an immersive full screen experience. In addition, Progressive Web Apps work reliably regardless of network conditions, sending less data for page loads and transactions versus traditional web pages.These features make Progressive Web Apps better than a simple web page or app that does not support offline access.

Progressive Web Applications are marketed by Google Developer as user experiences that have “the reach of the web” and are “reliable (load instantly and never show the dinosaur), fast (respond quickly with silky smooth animations and good quality scrolling), and engaging (feel like a natural app on the device).

What is the goal of PWA?

The technology fuses the best of mobile sites and native apps and makes it convenient for users to discover them by bypassing the app store. The initial idea was to enable developers to code a lighter version of an app for users who have a slow connection or little memory on devices. Eventually, big tech companies rode the wave so they could give web users an app-like experience with less data.

What are the benefits of Progressive Web Apps for businesses?

1. Wider market reach

If your business goal is to increase the number of users, you can enjoy a wider reach on the web. Moreover, using Progressive Web Apps, this means doing well in markets with poor internet connection. With more time being spent on mobile these days, implementing Progressive Web Apps makes total sense because the app is lightweight and has a faster load time compared to mobile apps.

2. Cost-efficient

It also allows companies to save on cost and time, because instead of building a website and separate mobile apps for iOS and Android, which are coded and billed separately, you can simply use a Progressive Web App which can be used by anyone, regardless if they are on iOS or Android devices. Moreover, because they bypass the app store, Progressive Web Apps allow businesses to save the money that would have gone to listing and marketing an app on the app store.

3. Sorts problems in app discovery

Standing out over two million apps on both the Play Store and App Store can be a herculean task for a new app. A business that can showcase its app experience over a more ubiquitous website can instantly be major steps ahead of the Play Store and App Store crowd.

4. Saves time for users

Progressive Web Apps are always up-to-date. Users don’t need to install any update for Progressive Web Apps because they get updates as soon as the server is updated. Progressive Web Apps load two or three times faster than responsive or m.dot web stores. This faster loading time reduces server load, which means a store will not crash or slow down in periods of extremely high traffic.

5. Higher conversion

Progressive Web Apps can use stored payment details on the device to make a payment.

In addition, as Progressive Web Apps are seamless, a huge increase in conversion rates have been seen on websites that implement them. Google cites the case for China retail service AliExpress, which improved conversions for new users across all browsers by 104% and on iOS by 82%.

Does my business need Progressive Web Apps?

If your users visit your website regularly for updates, and they are mostly on Google Chrome, Opera or Mozilla Firefox, plus you offer-real time information as well as content that will interest users even when they are offline, then you must consider implementing a Progressive Web App.

Is Progressive Web App the future?

Tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Apple are aggressively advancing PWA technologies in their desktop and mobile browsers. It’s not surprising that Progressive Web Apps will be the new standard for web interactions in the future.

That isn’t to say that there is no room for improvement for Progressive Web Apps. In its current state, Progressive Web Apps have a limited chance of app store promotion, given its nature of being a non-native app. There is also yet limited hardware support, and as an emerging technology, not all functions may work across all devices.

How do I create a Progressive Web App?

Google Developer dropped a Progressive Web App checklist breaking down the components of both a Baseline PWA and an Exemplary PWA. The long list includes the following items: HTTPS implementation, responsive design, use of service worker, metadata for “Add to Home screen”, and fast loading on 3G.

But beyond the technical aspect, an even more crucial agenda is setting down the strategy. Some companies will benefit more from a mix of PWA or AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). It will depend on your services or products, target market, and objectives.

It takes more than just a code to make PWA work. Our team of technical and creative people can help you with your project. Just contact us to discuss.