The Benefits of Progressive Web Applications

Jul 11 · 2 min read

Getting your mobile presence right is an ever-changing challenge. When it comes to websites, the small screen experience can fall a flat and native applications are equal parts time consuming and pricey.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are here to bridge the gap. This tech makes sense as your next strategic step if you’re after an immersive full mobi-screen experience, push notifications and offline availability.

Going this route gives your users a best-of-both-worlds experience because PWAs behave like apps, minus the associated barriers.

With only one codebase that needs to be built and maintained, compared to multiple versions for various operating systems and devices when it comes to native apps, PWAs are cheaper to create and quicker to market. Look at Twitter — their quest for an improved mobile experience brought the Twitter Lite PWA to life, which yielded a sweet 75% increase in Tweets sent in their PWA and a 20% decrease in bounce rates.

Like native applications, PWAs can tap into the majority of smartphone features but, game changer: they can be downloaded directly from your website to a mobile device with no install or updates required. This allows you to circumvent the app store and the associated costs, approval delays and time wasted while your user tries to remember their password.

Another score for the PWA team is that they are web-based, so they’re indexed by Google, which increases online visibility and reach — an easy way to rack up some SEO points. (Disclaimer: a greater SEO strat will need to be planned out before you dip your toes in the PWA realm).

Currently, Android devices can access more of your phone’s capabilities but iOS is sure to catch up fast as PWAs continue to gain traction.

A major downside to traditional apps is the space hog on your phone. PWAs are far smaller in size: less than 1MB. This is ideal for businesses whose target markets are data-conscious (aren’t we all?) or who will only use the application once-off or infrequently, like insurance companies. Also, users won’t have to decide between downloading your app or keeping all 291 images of their recent trip to Greece saved on their camera roll.

Still unsure about taking the leap? Consider that UK-based clothing brand was able to increase mobile conversions by 31% after implementing a PWA. Another success story — Tinder was able to cut their application size by 90% compared to the Android counterpart when making their PWA.

Gartner predicts that by 2020 “progressive web apps will have replaced 50% of general-purpose, consumer-facing mobile apps.” The web is pushing in this direction and the benefits for business and users are clear. If your end goal is increased traffic, engagement and conversions, you’ll want to adapt now.


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We’re a user experience design and software development agency based in Johannesburg, South Africa.