What's so hot about PWAs?

Zoe Pedersen - Marketing Manager

We’re all pretty familiar with Apps. Most of us have loads of them on our phones...some of them we use and some of them we downloaded and then never actually touched again.

I have to confess to being an App fanatic, ultimately because I’m a fan of anything that puts greater convenience, assistance and flexibility into the palm of my hand

  • Google Maps? I literally cannot survive without my Google Maps app that talks to my little VW Polo
  • Train app? Yes…
  • Remember-to-drink-water app? Yup…
  • Banking app? Obviously!
  • Fitness/walking/pedometer/whatever-the-wearable-app? Yes.
  • Holiday/flight/booking app? Check.

The saying: “There’s an app for that” is true and literal.

So what’s all the fuss about PWA’s, Progressive Web Apps, that’s been doing the rounds for nearly the past 2 years. Techno buzz word or useful piece of digital property? 

They are certainly on the rise and gaining momentum. Twitter launched their PWA Twitter Lite and have seen a 75% increase in tweets tweeted; they even used their mobile PWA to redesign their default desktop version based on the success they saw. Forbes and their PWA solution saw a staggering 100% growth in engagement and Pinterest, a 50% growth in click-throughs*.

A progressive web app is, simply, an ultra optimised website for mobile. You access a PWA from your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc) and download its content as and when browsing. The number 1 bonus to PWAs is that the majority can be accessed even when you’re offline and have no access to WiFi.

For brands, this can be incredibly helpful as you can get people converted to your app who are already browsing your website, without having to send them off to a 3rd party App Store.

Other key benefits to going the PWA route:

  • It’s typically a cheaper and quick build since it only needs to be developed once. There’s no iOs vs Android requirements
  • Yes - you do need to download content at least once before using it BUT, thereafter, you access content faster and directly via a URL.
  • After that initial download, PWAs thereafter use a very small amount of phone memory
  • Users can easily share a PWA to their network with an easy URL
  • As it’s HTML based, it is optimised for search so if a user Googles a problem, they could be taken directly to the app for the solution
  • Users can tag/bookmark as a favourite and create an icon on the home screen, so the experience is nearly as seamless as it is for native apps

Sounds brilliant right?

Here are some of the niggling downsides:

  • PWAs, whilst rapidly improving and enhancing, do not necessarily offer all the access features of the phone as native does. For example, you can’t use the bluetooth functionality. You can however, send push notifications just like a native app
  • IOS also does not automatically show the add to home screen button, it has to be found in a menu
  • Designers and UX, UI designers have to be on their game when it comes to designing for PWA as some design and interface creativity can be limited..it doesn’t allow 3D use for example

PWAs aren’t going to be replacing Native Apps overnight. They do, however, give brands, agencies and marketers another option that can be the ideal solution, based on whatever the brands needs are...and who they are trying to engage with.

Brands need to not only decide IF and WHY they need an app; they also need to pause and think about WHAT app type is going to be the best fit: Native or Progressive Web?

Are you thinking about PWAs? Get in touch and our Creative and Development team will be happy to workshop an ideal solution with you!


*Reference: UXplanet.org