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What are progressive web apps - PWA?

According to Gartner, progressive web apps (PWA) will replace half of consumer-facing apps by 2020. Impressive, right? Yet despite their increasing popularity, there are still plenty of people who are in the dark about PWAs. So what exactly are they? And how can a progressive web app supercharge your digital experience? In this guide, we tell you everything you need to know.

What are progressive web apps?

Progressive web apps do exactly what they say on the tin. They’re just like the apps that you download on your mobile, except they’re web-based and built with progressive enhancement, which means they’ll work for every user, regardless of their browser, device or where they’re situated in the world.

Importantly, PWAs bring all the bells and whistles of mobile apps. They supercharge digital experiences, boosting engagement and conversion rates with clever features and functionality, even when a user is offline.

 

5 benefits of progressive web apps

Progressive web apps boast a whole load of amazing benefits – not just for users, but for your whole team too. Here are just a few of the highlights:

1. Quick installs

In a month, half of all smartphone users download zero apps. That’s because the process of installing an app is far more complicated than just visiting a website. But luckily, installing a PWA is far easier. Instead of having to hunt down the app on an app store, or spend ages waiting for it to download, all you have to do to enable a PWA is hit “yes” when prompted by the website. This will put a shortcut to the website on your mobile home screen, in the guise of a regular app.

2. Freshest version

With a PWA, you can rest assured that your users will always be experiencing the latest version. Unlike native apps, PWAs don’t have to be approved by an app store, allowing for instant updates that are immediately passed onto users.

Read more: How to optimise your website user experience in 3 steps.


3. Better performance

The web is optimised for delivering speedy content on demand – a benefit that PWAs are able to tap into. As well capitalising on the speed of the web, PWAs also offer ‘native-style’ client-side caching. This mean they can even outperform websites and native apps on page loads.

4. Increased conversion rates

As any digital expert will tell you, better user experiences equal higher conversion rates. When users are free to move through a digital experience without obstacles or pressure points, they build confidence and momentum, making them far more likely to complete a purchase.

And the good news is that PWAs have been proven to massively boost conversion rates. Faster page loads, easier installs, instantaneous updates, smaller and leaner websites, all contribute to a better user experience and more conversions.

5. Reduced development costs

Developing a native app is no easy feat. The cost and time involved in ongoing monitoring, maintenance, improvement and QA can be huge, making them unfeasible for most businesses. But PWAs are different. A web app doesn’t have to be submitted to an app store, it’ll work in any browser, and it’s installable across all major devices, saving a huge amount in resources as it can be maintained by one web development team.


Read more: Make your CMS the hub for your digital experiences.


How to get started

There are a couple of ways you can get started with a PWA. In some cases, building a progressive web app can be as easy as adding some code to your existing website; in others it might be best to start from scratch. It all depends on your existing solution, and the vision for your digital experience.

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Topics: progressive web apps, digital projects, content management