Progressive Web Apps: What Are Their Advantages & Downsides?


    Any business owner dreams of getting a magic wand that can solve problems and take the company to a new level. Since 2015, progressive web apps have been shaping a truly unique user experience and promising many features and benefits.

    Their speed, design, and performance are pushing leading companies to choose PWAs for their businesses. But do they possess any negative features?

    This article will look at the top six reasons to settle on the PWA solution before it’s too late and what you should be aware of. Namely, we’ll explain how progressive web applications help to increase customer engagement, reliability, and, most importantly, your conversions and profit. You’ll also learn about their possible disadvantages. We’ll back up the covered ideas with use cases and stats.

    Progressive Web Apps What Are Their Advantages & Downsides

    #1 Introducing PWAs & Comparing Them to Native Apps

    Native apps and PWAs primarily aim to improve mobile conversions. People increasingly use smartphones to shop, browse, and communicate, yet many standard mobile versions of websites are far from ideal. They are slow and inconvenient. That’s why business owners think about investing money in a PWA or a native app as a solution for mobile users.

    You may think that a progressive web app has something in common with a mobile application. Yes, these tech solutions are visually similar. But there is a fundamental difference between PWAs and native apps.

    #1 Native Applications

    If you’re a smartphone user, you definitely come across native apps. And more than one time a day. You load them on the mobile device via app stores.

    The development of such programs varies according to the operating system. As a result, two separate development teams create two versions of the same native app for Android and iOS.

    #1 In short native apps involve:

    ● downloading to a mobile device’s storage;
    ● maintaining (such as user-side upgrades and bug patches);
    ● designing exclusively for mobile use and a UX and UI that is optimized for mobile use only;
    ● keeping clients via push notifications;
    ● frequently-used solutions, such as social media, messengers, banking, games, etc.

    #2 Progressive Web Applications

    In essence, a PWA is a mobile-friendly version of a website created with the help of modern frameworks (for example, Angular.js or React.js). It’s lightning-quick, extremely user-friendly, and it doesn’t even require downloading to the device.

    To illustrate my point, I provide a screenshot of the Foodl website. You can check out below how the PWA may look like.

    Screenshots of the Foodl home, menu, and product pages

    #2 Principal Benefits of PWAs Compared to Traditional Websites and Native Apps

    #1 Less Spending on Development Teams

    What do we focus on when deciding on a service? We are prone to evaluate the cost. As a result, we’ll start by comparing the two alternatives from this perspective.

    Native application development is different for various operating systems. That’s why businesses have to hire multiple development teams to craft the same app for both iOS and Android.

    When is creating native applications cost-effective? They make sense in such industries, as:

    ● banking;
    ● games;
    ● social media;
    ● messengers.

    These are solutions for frequent usage. However, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram have proved PWAs have great potential even in these industries.

    Why so? PWAs are less expensive to develop and maintain than their native siblings. They have specific development tools, coding languages, and resources to suit any OS without the support of various programs.

    But these aren’t all of the PWA’s cost benefits. As the number of mobile shoppers increases, converting a site to a PWA is a highly sensible option for eCommerce companies. According to Statista, 72.9% of all e-commerce communication takes place via m-commerce in 2021. But that’s not it. When you get a PWA, you also improve the desktop version’s performance along with the mobile one.

    A PWA involves a split headless method to transform a website’s architecture from monolithic. So a PWA is an investment in the future, as it prepares your site for the changes coming to eCommerce.

    #2 PWAs Are Swift to Load (Outstanding Site Speed)

    Speaking of another PWA advantage, we can’t help but mention their speed. Thanks to improved caching, GraphQL, a modern API strategy, and other solutions, progressive web applications boast high-grade performance and content delivery if implemented correctly.

    For example, let’s delve into application shells. When you open a PWA, the page loads. But instead of a blank page, you see the layout, indicating that content will appear soon. This move is more beneficial since the visitor understands what they are waiting for. It engages them, especially when it comes to image loading.

    Here’s how Impericon’s progressive web application loads. Do you see how the layout reveals the future images, even when there aren’t any? Of course, they take seconds to load, but the perception wouldn’t be so powerful without the app shell.

    Screenshots of the Impericon loading home page

    There’s no doubt that viewers will have a better experience if the site loads quickly. When the page load is eternal, they just abandon the site. It means they’ll most likely leave without converting.

    According to a Google study, increasing the page load time from one to three seconds damages the bounce rate by 32%. The bounce rate reached even 90% when the time was extended for an additional two seconds. So pay attention to quick performance.

    Is it necessary to discuss that page speed is one of the ranking factors? A PWA site might get a competitive advantage over rivals and boost its ranking by having fast page opening times.

    To be honest, progressive web apps do have particular SEO-related quirks. But proper management from the outset can save you from several roadblocks.

    Everything mentioned above is what presents a PWA in a favorable light compared to a standard website.

    #3 Boost SEO with Smooth Design

    Google released a new update in summer 2021. It states that usability will be among the ranking factors for their search engine. From now on, website owners need to consider entire site optimization, both for mobile and desktop, and deliver the best user experience if they want to appear at the top of search results.

    Again, how do PWAs work? They combine the seamless design and navigation (that we all love native apps for) and the scalability of websites. The pages of a PWA have a URL and are available for search engines like any other website. So it can help with SEO.

    PWAs have a more intelligent arrangement and are superior to their native analogs to some extent, as you may notice in these examples of Magento progressive web applications.

    Let me show you screenshots of the Snapdeal online store. You can assess the web version on the right and the native app on the left. You’ll notice just a slight distinction between it and the native app in terms of interface convenience, but the benefits of the PWA version are as follows:

    ● The native app is 72.2 MB in size, which requires installation time and device memory space, but the PWA weights less than 1 MB if a user decides to save it to the device (again, the PWA is browser-run);
    ● the web version has a faster page load;
    ● search engines can easily crawl the PWA.

    Screenshots of the Snapdeal website and iOS app

    #4 Offline Mode to Facilitate Interaction Anytime

    The truth is, you can’t access the site if the Internet is down. Native apps have always solved this problem by working independently of the Internet’s speed or absence.

    Now that PWAs have this feature as well, poor Internet or its absence doesn’t stop them from working. The reason for it is the excellent application data caching, known as Service Workers.

    Unfortunately, visitors can’t order or access other uncached pages without the Internet while using PWAs. But they can add items to their shopping carts, and the page will update when the connection is restored.

    #5 Retain Customers Using Push Notifications

    PWAs include device-specific functionality such as push notifications. That’s what brings them and native mobile apps together. Push notifications allow you to get the most out of your advertisements. And it’s also handy when it comes to PWAs.

    According to some figures, 67.5% of users across iOS and Android enable their apps to send them notifications. Unlike email newsletters, blog articles, or social media updates, these notifications are displayed right in front of consumers’ eyes on the screen.

    Push notifications raise brand recognition. Here I mean drawing attention to the company and improving customer retention. Thus, businesses can promote their items, services, or upcoming events better.

    #6 Easy Installation and Storage Efficiency

    The “not enough space” warning is irritating, isn’t it? And still, it’s a widespread issue among smartphone users. Here is how progressive web apps can combat it.

    There is no more deleting old apps to make room for new ones. PWAs are integrated within the site, so you don’t need to download them from app stores. They work in every browser on any device, including mobile and desktop.

    Note that many PWAs include the “Add to Home Screen” function. It enables potential clients to add an app shortcut to their device, which looks like a native app icon. What you’ll like the most is that they are generally under 1 MB in size, which is uncommon among native apps.

    This screenshot, taken from Sophie Conran’s website, shows how to add the PWA shortcut to your home screen. Users can shop without opening a browser and typing in the URL while enjoying all PWA benefits.

    Screenshots showing adding a page shortcut to the home screen

    Pinterest, for example, has made a move to PWA. It weighs 150 KB, up from 21 MB on Android and 140.3 MB on iOS as a native app. In exchange, Pinterest received the following benefits:

    ● the number of active users surged by 60%;
    ● advertising revenue jumped by 44%.

    The Starbucks PWA is only 233 KB in size, yet the iOS mobile app is 148 MB. The company has increased the amount of daily active visitors after implementing this functionality. The number of orders placed via mobile phones is nearly equal to desktop computers, if not more.

    #3 The Downsides of PWAs

    #1 Tricky PWA Development

    To begin with, it’s not easy to make a progressive web application. You need to hire seasoned engineers with advanced coding skills. But the same situation applies to any development projects, be it standard site optimization or building a native application.

    There are numerous techniques of creating a PWA, be it from scratch using a progressive framework like VueJS or with ready-made toolkit solutions. But out-of-the-box ones often can’t meet all scenarios and demands. And they’re not easy to customize.

    #2 Proper SEO Management

    You may have heard that progressive web apps might hurt a website’s SEO. The thing is, the app doesn’t render pages like a typical website. As a result, such pages may seem empty and without content for Google bots and crawlers. This issue may prevent businesses from obtaining a PWA.

    But the good news is that this claim isn’t entirely true. A skilled developer deals with dynamic rendering solutions that integrate server-side and client-side rendering. And you get even faster pages for visitors and bots to load and crawl than a regular website.

    #3 Minor Drawbacks

    Monetizing a PWA is harder than a native app. PWAs also consume more battery power than native applications written in Kotlin or Swift.

    Native apps are a better alternative in game development. And if you already have a native app that ticks all the boxes, a PWA can wait.

    #4 Final Say

    Building your business online using a progressive web app is a good way to get a super-fast, mobile-friendly, and engaging store. Other reasons to think about this technology include:

    ● PWAs work directly from the browser;
    ● you can utilize them even if your connection is poor or you’re offline;
    ● the ease of the app-like interface;
    ● push notifications.

    Apart from it, PWAs allow you to improve site security, which is an inevitable prerequisite of today’s competition. You’ll promote your website in search engines, leading to brand awareness and conversions. And the solution can come at a reasonable PWA price, not to mention that PWAs will get even better with time!


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here