Progressive Web Apps: The Evolving State of Mobile Web
Dan Healy
Dan Healy

Progressive Web Apps: The Evolving State of Mobile Web

Dan Healy, COO

Prolific has traditionally developed in native environments (i.e. specifically within Android or iOS) because it creates the best user experience and most stable host environment. Users downloaded over 197 billion apps in 2017, and those numbers are expected to jump to over 205 billion this year.

That’s billion with a B.

These numbers indicate a powerful shift to mobile experiences as users’ primary point of entry. And while we’ve been hearing about the rise of mobile for a while – and seeing the numbers bear that out – there are still fewer purchases happening on apps and mobile websites: only 24% of e-commerce transactions were completed on a mobile device in Q4 of last year (comScore).

If your business involves any kind of sale or transaction, this leaves a huge gap. Your users are experiencing your brand on their mobile device, but they still feel uncomfortable making a purchase there. Designing an easy-to-use, secure mobile experience that works across all devices can go a long way toward increasing the number of sales you capture through mobile.

Enter the Progressive Web App (PWA). PWAs provide an app-like experience in a mobile browser and can bridge the gap between the app and mobile experience. They can also expand your reach to users who have limited access to apps. Data is an expensive commodity in many developing countries and growing markets, making app usage costly and infrequent. Utilizing a PWA means potential customers can use less data and still connect with your brand.

But developing markets aren’t the only place you can expand your reach. Creating a PWA connects with customers where they’re already browsing, and can convert window shoppers into customers with a site that feels secure and seamless with a desktop experience. Since PWAs are lightweight and load quickly, implementing one keeps users engaged and can make your conversions skyrocket.

While building beautiful, powerful apps is a big part of what we do at Prolific, if you’re interested in exploring a way to create a more intuitive mobile web experience, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) deserve your attention.

Here are five reasons to consider developing a PWA:

1. They’re fast

53% of users abandon sites that take more than three seconds to load. This isn’t a huge issue on a reliable WiFi signal or LTE network, but as soon as your users’ connection slows for even a minute, your conversion numbers will plummet. Utilizing a PWA can safeguard you from these issues. With a PWA, site load time can drop down to milliseconds and have interactivity in under two seconds, so potential customers can access your content and stay engaged. Your conversion rate is no longer at the mercy of users’ connection speeds.

2. Integrations

PWAs can integrate with a range of other technologies. Developers can tie a PWA to features like:

      • Web Bluetooth
      • Web USB
      • Ambient Light Sensor
      • Home Screen functionality
      • Picture in Picture
      • Screen Sharing
      • AR/VR
      • And e-commerce (more to come on this point in a minute)

3. Reliability

Downasaur Image

The Downasaur often displays when a user is not connected to internet and can’t access a webpage.

Hand-coded, client-side JavaScript Proxy fends off the downasaur by allowing service workers to cache pages and keep your site accessible, even offline.

4. Engagement

There are many benefits to a mobile app, and one of the greatest is the ability to collect data and maximize features (like push notifications) based on that data. You can do this with a PWA too, which will personalize users’ experiences and drive further engagement. But where PWAs really rise above the benefits of a typical website is their ability to store tracking behavior while a user is disconnected. This behavioral data allows you to create seamless customer profiles that tell you more fully who your customers are and how they interact with your PWA, both online and offline.

5. Revenue Generation

There are a number of studies emerging that showcase how even a 100-millisecond delay can hurt conversion rates by 7%, or a two-second delay to web page load could increase bounce rates by 103% (Akamai). Based on the trends we’re seeing by Google and other companies, there is a significant opportunity to improve mobile conversion rates, and potentially use PWAs to convert web browsers into app users and more profitable customers. This is proven in the numbers.

Let’s say your current digital business is earning $100m/year in e-commerce revenue with 10 million global customers. If you’re on-trend with the retail industry overall, only $20m of your total revenue is coming in via a mobile device (comScore). However, most users are browsing, searching, and looking at their mobile device for over 69% of their shopping experience. This means there is a gap of 49% where users are switching to a desktop to complete their purchase, leaving them more likely to abandon the shopping experience or get lost in the shuffle.

What would your mobile e-commerce business look like if you were to improve the search to purchase gap by just 1.5% next year? In our example, if you saw an increase of 1.5% (which is on the lower end of average PWA improvements) you’d see an increase of over $1.5 million in revenue – which would easily cover the cost of working with Prolific to build an initial PWA.

Progressive Web Apps contribute to overall business success by facilitating more conversions, more time spent on a website per visitor, and increased revenue generated online. While we don’t think Progressive Web Apps replace a strong native app experience, creating a PWA is a great way to encourage loyalty and build longer-term relationships with casual customers.

If you’re looking to improve your web conversion rate, consider implementing a PWA with Prolific Interactive.