The year of progressive web apps

Posted by Amy Montague on Wednesday 28 November 2018


Unless, you are an app developer or a google news addict, it’s likely that you won’t know what progressive web apps (PWA) are or why they were forecasted as the digital trend of 2018. So, here’s a quick rundown of what PWAs are and how they are developing in 2018 - 2019.

What the hell does PWA mean?

To put it simply, PWAs are web apps designed to run while inside a browser such as Chrome or Opera, unlike native apps they don’t need to be downloaded from the play store and won’t take up memory. Already in 2018 big brands are benefiting from the PWA movement and it's only a matter of time until PWAs become the norm in the digital world. 

What’s the big deal?

The first idea behind PWAs began in 2015 when Google Chrome engineer Alex Russell wrote Progressive Web Apps: Escaping Tabs Without Losing Our Soul. The article outlined exactly how PWAs should act, along with the benefits, and soon enough Google pushed forward the concept and moved it into construction. Using three core structures, Google began developing PWAs that follow a certain architecture and can de adopted by any business. 

Reliable- Designed to load instantly regardless of network strength while being responsive and adjusting to a specific device layout. PWAs  can also function offline bridging the App-gap.

Fast- Mobile users expect webpages to load quickly and will abandon them with no second thought.  Therefore, it’s a well-known fact that 53% of users will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load and PWAs aim to eradicate lengthy loading times.

Engaging- PWAs should be completely immersive and allow users to add PWAs to their home screen without reducing their device memory. Push notifications are also a key foundation as research shows that push notifications increase engagement by four times, and those users also spend twice as long on the websites.

 Bubble chart

Why should I care?

Every brand which has an app, or a mobile website will benefit from PWAs, not only to keep up with the digital movement but, also to increase conversions and revenue. Back in early 2018, UK based fashion and home retailer Debenhams noticed that their mobile traffic was on the rise but conversions weren't following the same trend. With the festive season quickly approaching, Debenhams brought in Google engineers and mobile specialists to build a PWA, which would improve mobile experiences and accelerate shoppers’ path to purchase. In just 4 months the PWA was launched and the benefits reeled in. By September, Debenhams saw mobile revenue increase by 40%, conversions increase by 20% and the path from browsing to purchase was 4 times faster.   

The shift from old technology to new technology clearly benefited Debenhams and aims to benefit more companies who lead with a mobile - first perspective. But it’s not just good news for your conversion rates but also your developers. PWAs use the same technologies as all websites, including HTML and Java, meaning they don’t require any special environments and require less time to produced and edit. Meaning more time can be spent providing a better online experience for all users. 

As we head into 2019 it will be interesting to see how PWAs develop and become adopted by more and more industries. Its safe to say that brands looking to develop in the new year should keep their finger on the PWA button as more opportunities arise. 


Topics: Conversions, mCommerce, Mobile, Mobile App Testing, CX, websitetesting, revenue