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We Skipped A Step

All the big boys adopted PWAs over native apps last year: why has the average SME not caught on yet? ‘It’s our fault,’ says the software industry.

The reason many businesses are not up to speed about the benefits of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) is because the software industry skipped a step.

How Did It Happen?

First of all, we had websites. A few pioneer businesses saw the opportunity and hired people to build a site, initially little more than a glorified advert. Others recognised the advantages of this new technology and piled on.

Then came e-commerce: websites could achieve much more than just promotion – we can sell stuff in a virtual world, for real money!

Finally, we, the software industry, began developing websites specifically for mobiles. Typically, they had less functionality than the desktop version, but we were at least catering to the 21st Century market.

A Great Leap Forward

But then came a leap: – shrink down the website, add some extra features and pack it directly onto your customers’ mobiles in a dedicated app that only promotes and sells your stuff, nobody else’s. This was a major development and businesses were not long in dedicating serious resources to commissioning their own.

Apps load directly onto the mobile device and so work much faster than a website. They can update automatically, so the customer always has the latest version, with all the latest features, businesses could send push notifications to increase conversion rates… In short, they were the latest big thing. Businesses ring-fenced budgets for their apps   and we poured all of our time and resources into building and developing them, while neglecting the mobile website.

What Did We Miss?

However, native apps (that load directly onto your mobile device) have their limitations, principally poor to no performance offline, or even when bandwidth is poor.

Also, although the internal storage of mobiles is increasing, so are the size and number of apps on each one. App Annie, an independent mobile market data provider, found that the average user has between 60-90 apps installed on their phone. This number increases each year, leading inevitably to storage capacity problems.

A different version of the app is required for each operating system. Even an app developed specifically for one OS will have limitations of backwards-compatibility – the further back you go to accommodate older phones, the longer and more expensive development becomes. Additionally, developers need to make sure an app will work with different browsers.

Can We Have Our Cake and Eat It?

But the revolution in online usage is complete: nowadays, most internet traffic is via mobile devices. The answer has to be something that facilitates full access on the go. The solution to the limitations of native apps is the PWA, which merges the benefits of apps and mobile websites and adds some extra benefits on top.

Advantages of PWAs include:

  • Run faster than a website on the move and launch as quickly as a native app
  • Does not need to be downloaded via any App Store
  • Progressive: users can access the basic functions of the PWA when there is no internet connection. The PWA progressively opens the throttle to allow access to more features as a connection improves.
  • Consistency: A PWA works the same way on a desktop as a mobile device
  • Shareability: just send a URL and others can share the same experience
  • Visibility: A PWA is recognised and indexed as a website, and rewarded with promotion by Google, under its policy of Mobile-First Indexing by default for new domains.
  • PWAs operate across all platforms and operating systems, so you don’t need different versions for each operating system.
  • SEO: Google rewards low bounce rates and fast page-load speeds. PWAs deliver by offering high user satisfaction rates.
  • Push notifications, even when the PWA is inactive.
  • Always fresh: updates itself automatically

PWAs are the best of both worlds. So, why are SMEs not bashing down our doors to demand this latest hi-tech solution? Nostra culpa – our fault… By leaping from mobile websites to apps, the software development community led users to gradually abandon and forget all about websites of any kind.

Who’s Got One?

Not any more, though: Uber, Starbucks, Tinder, Twitter, Debenhams, Android Messages, Google Maps, Google Photos, Forbes, Flipboard, Telegram, Ali Baba, Air France Mobile & Pinterest are among the mega-corporations that have switched to a PWA in place of an app, and are reporting massive tangible benefits in user engagement and hard increases in revenue.

Who’s Next?

At Internet Creation, we’ve been building websites and apps since 2000 – that’s a lifetime in technology years! We are in the forefront of PWA development. If you are thinking about a PWA for your business or organisation, give us a call or drop us an email.

Internet Creation Ltd. specialises in Web Design & Development, Graphics Design and Digital Marketing (SEO & PPC). For more information on how we can help your business, email [email protected].