Is PWA a full website?

Twitter PWA in Yandex Browser with highlighted “Go to full site” menu item

For some time, mobile websites have been seen as stripped down versions of the desktop websites. Just somehow not full websites. That was true for some time, especially in its early days of the mobile web, and it still is for some websites. But I believe this time has passed with PWAs pushing mobile websites and apps forward.

The problem

That might not be true in regular users’ eyes though. For example, in Russia, it got into the language calling desktop website “full version” when referred from mobile website’s perspective. It never happens from a native app perspective. There is no “let’s see it in the full app”. It’s always “computer app” or “desktop app”.

This goes beyond just people’s habit of having poor-made websites on mobile. Browsers, translate “Request Desktop Website” to Russian as “Get a Full Version”. Do you see what’s happening here? Even browser itself implies that current version is not full.

This gets into people’s mind even more. There is a lot of young people who have never seen the old mobile web and maybe even haven’t had a PC yet. Mobile phone was their first computer. So now, every time they open browser menu, they see “Go to a full version”. Go to a full version. Go to a full version.

The wording is very important, especially if it’s being seen by millions everyday.

Also, the problem starts seeing backwards effect. Yandex Browser, Russian browser based on Blink, uses the wording “Go to full site” even in English localization where there is no problem with “Go to desktop site” wording.

Time for a change

But why do I write this if it’s only Russian localization issue? Well, it’s enough on its own, but I also believe that other localizations may have this problem as well. If we, as community, will be able to push browser vendors to change the situation, it will be one more win for the Web!

So far, most browsers I know, do it as variation of “Go to a full version” on Russian. Only Samsung Internet gets it right as “Request a PC version”. Kudos to them! 💜

As a starting point for other browsers, here is a Chrome Bug I filled to fix the issue. If you care about this problem, please go and tell them you care. If such problem is also happening with you language, let me know about it on Twitter.

Just as a footnote — I recently saw a situation, where an user was always hitting “Go to full version”/”Full version” checkbox in all browsers, even though the target website haven’t been changing or even showing different/incomplete UI because of User Agent detection. But it still felt right to request a full version of a website, because who wants to use a cut down version, when the full one is available.