Even if you aren’t familiar with the term “progressive web app”, the chances are that you have already encountered one in action. Also known simply as PWA, these new apps are rapidly growing in popularity as they offer a host of benefits.

What are progressive web apps?

A PWA can take the place of a conventional website but with extended functionality and higher performance while others offer entirely new levels of functionality. The term progressive web app was originally coined by Google to describe a means of developing flexible, adaptable applications based solely on online technologies. It is an approach to application development which adheres to certain rules and uses standard application programming interfaces (APIs). For example, an app qualifies as a PWA if it is:

  • discoverable through online searches.
  • installable (providing an access widget on a device’s home screen).
  • linkable and able to be shared through its own URL.
  • able to work offline, or where there is poor internet connectivity.
  • able to send notifications of newly available content.
  • be able to work on older browsers at a basic level but offer full functionality on recent versions.
  • able to work on any device equipped with a screen and browser, whether a smartphones, fridge or TV.
  • is secure and keeps user data safe from third party access.

In short, developing a PWA means combining the best features of both web and native apps – such as discoverability and seamless offline usability. A PWA can offer swifter loading times thanks to caching technologies, and that can give brands important advantages such as stronger SEO and higher conversion rates. A PWA only has to be installed once so deployment is quick, cheap and easy. Similarly, any future updates can be carried out just to that one installation, saving time and minimising disruption for users. The use of push notifications can promote better user engagement, which again translates into higher sales. No wonder then, that big name organisations including Starbucks, The Washington Post and Forbes have already adopted progressive web apps.

The figures show the value of a PWA

Businesses that have already embraced the PWA platform are seeing real, tangible results. Starbucks have managed to double their daily active user rate with their PWA. The Indian e-commerce website Flipkart Lite was redeveloped as a PWA in 2015 and has subsequently seen its conversion rate soar by an impressive 70% as a consequence. Likewise, AliExpress have seen their conversion rate for new shoppers increase by a staggering 104% since developing a PWA.

It is not just big global brands that are reaping rewards from developing a PWA. Start-ups such as CouponMoto have successfully used a PWA to invigorate customer engagement. Similarly, UK clothing company George have boosted their conversion rates by 31%, increased page views by 20%, and halved their bounce rate since upgrading to a PWA. Their new PWA also loads 3.8 times quicker than their former conventional website.

Nor is PWA technology purely for e-commerce enterprises. Streaming platforms have also taken to it with great results, for example ZEE5 have reported a 50% decrease in buffering and a threefold speed increase. Meanwhile, social sharing platform Pinterest has seen visitors spending 40% longer visiting their site since they moved to a PWA, boosting core engagement by 60% and leading to a revenue growth of 44%. These reports demonstrate that a PWA can be a boon for a wide range of businesses.

Best for your business

If this makes you keen to explore the possibilities for yourself, the good news is that a PWA can also be affordable. If you already have a website, converting it into a PWA can be cheaper than you think and the returns should certainly make your investment worthwhile. Why not make the move to a PWA for your organisation