In our previous post, we discussed the features of a progressive web app (PWA) and compared the differences between PWAs and other types of apps such as hybrid, cross-platform, native apps; as well as standard web apps. Now it’s time to go into a bit more detail about the user benefits of progressive web apps and explore some of the top reasons progressive web apps can help create an improved user experience.
Progressive web apps can create a familiar, unified experience across many devices, as well as provide improved backwards compatibility and remove common barriers to entry for users who have not updated to the latest mobile handset. While there may be some limitations based on the user’s browser, PWAs will generally be compatible with any device that can access the internet, unlike other types of apps that may become obsolete as new operating system versions become available. With over 93.5% of the world’s online population using one of the 5 major browsers that support PWAs – Chrome (65.3%), Safari (17.5%), Microsoft Edge (5.6%), Firefox (4.1%), or Opera (1.5%) – it’s safe to say you’re capturing a large audience!
As PWAs are accessible online, they can instantly take advantage of the latest browser updates, newest APIs, and any plugin updates as soon as they’re available – meaning users will always be running the latest version and bug fixes can be resolved for all users with a single code change, without the lengthy process of re-packaging and re-submitting an update to an app store or forcing an update on the user’s device (especially as many people have auto-updates turned off!).
This also ensures update delays and general data usage are kept to a minimum as users will not need to reinstall their apps each time (Starbucks’ PWA is 99% smaller than their iOS app!). This is a huge benefit to users in areas with poor signal, and with fewer installs being processed and less data being used, battery drainage will also be reduced – keeping users online for longer. It’s also worth noting that PWAs do not load in full each time they are accessed – they can be designed to only load the information the user has requested, e.g. a single page or parts of a page visible on the user’s screen while the rest is cached, which greatly improves the overall experience with speedy load times.
One of the best features of PWAs is the shareability of content beyond the confines of the app – even for users who do not have the app installed. This makes the content more accessible, as well as letting new users experience your service offering before installing the app themselves (or signing up for an account) which helps create a more open experience and removes blockers that may otherwise turn users away.
Links from PWAs can be copied from the address bar, and other assets such as images or even lines of text can also be shared on social media (which in turn helps more people find your brand!).
As PWAs look and generally function like a website, there are also several accessibility benefits of building your project in this way including better compatibility with assistive technology – creating an inclusive experience for more users. As The Wall Street Journal reports, only around 65% of the top free Android apps were found to be compatible with screenreaders (compared to 80% of free iOS apps), and while this is an improvement on previous years’ statistics, it does show there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Progressive web apps are able to make use of browsers’ built-in accessibility features such as automatic text resizing, colour changes, text-to-speech / read-aloud, and more – making PWAs a leader in accessibility and support.
We’ve all become accustomed to our web browsers storing our login details or even generating secure passwords for us so we don’t have to memorise them – but mobile apps don’t always have that option, meaning we may settle for using passwords that are not secure, or even passwords we have already used for other services. While memorable passwords make it easier for us to access our favourite apps, they can also make it easier for hackers to steal our data!
As PWAs can be accessed through a browser like any other website, our logins can be securely stored in our browser settings or extensions such as LastPass – making it easier to create (and retrieve) more complex passwords for our accounts, thus improving security. Alongside this, PWAs use the secure HTTPS protocol, making it harder for people and bots to break into the application and steal or alter data.
Greater Convenience & Speed
According to research by Apteligent, roughly 48% of mobile app users stop using and/or delete apps that take more than 2 seconds to load – stressing the importance of speed in app development!
This is another area where PWAs shine as they regularly out-perform native apps when it comes to speed as they use caching rather than loading all information at once, thus helping retain more clients and reducing drop-off rates. Many PWAs will use “service workers” (scripts) that operate between the server and the user’s device – allowing data to sync remotely and load when required which creates a smoother customer experience even when your connection is poor, such as when you are commuting.
Alongside this, users can create shortcuts to PWAs on their device screen or in their bookmarks menu, providing new touchpoints for clients to access the app when they need it and increasing interaction rates even more as the same app can be used across multiple devices rather than forcing the user to only use it on their phone.
While mobile apps can be expensive to translate, PWAs can – even temporarily – be made more accessible to users outside of your app’s primary language through free plugins and APIs such as Google Translate. This can help open your app to a wider audience without the restrictions that come with single-language apps and give you an international presence.
Google Play and the Apple App Store will tend to not show apps to users that do not match their device’s language settings unless that language is available in the app itself and full translation is often costly as well as requiring extra time (especially if you’re looking to build separate, localised apps). This is another area where progressive web apps come to the rescue as a single PWA can be built to alter appearance based on the user’s location or device settings. A great example of this in practice is e-commerce platform, Jumia, which is available in several languages spoken across Africa. Following the release of their PWA, Jumia saw a 33% increase in conversions as well as welcoming 12x more users than before!
Looking to enhance your business offering with a progressive web app or mobile app? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a consultation to get the ball rolling for your next project.
Explore the benefits of developing a progressive web app (PWA) for your business in our free whitepaper.