What are progressive web apps – PWA?
What can progressive web apps do for your digital experiences?
According to Emergen Research, the global market size for progressive web apps (PWA) will reach USD 10.55 billion by 2027. 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 experiences? 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 optimize your website user experience in 3 steps »
3. Better performance
The web is optimized for delivering speedy content on demand—a benefit that PWAs are able to tap into. As well capitalizing 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 funnel 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, as well as smaller and leaner websites—they 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.
See this detailed guide from web.dev in order to get started on PWA development!
First published 19 July 2018, updated 4 July 2022.
Frequently asked questions
What are progressive web apps?
A PWA is a lightweight website that can double down as an app on your smartphone, with fast loading, rich features, and a convenient app icon—without actually being a native app.
What are the business benefits of PWAs?
Quick and easy installation, always the newest and most secure version, and faster loading times lead to increased conversion rates from leads and customers.
What are examples of PWAs?
Twitter, Starbucks, Flipboard, Uber, Housing.com, Pinterest, Digikala, Soundslice, 2048 Game, MakeMyTrip, Padpiper, Yummly, Lancôme, Alibaba, Wego.