What is Progressive Web App?

Progressive Web App is an in web browser app, that uses modern web proficiencies to deliver a unique user experience. They’re downloadable on the user’s home screen, without needing to download an app. They are deployed to servers, indexable by search engines and accessible via URL’s. You can not only deploy as a native app, but by using PWA you can broaden your reach and take advantage of both channels.

There’s so much about PWA’s that prove them to be the most effective use of apps to date. But what is it exactly makes them so successful, what benefits do they have compared to native apps?

What benefits do Progressive Web Apps have?

There are 3 main benefits to using Progressive Web Apps:


The loading time for PWA’s is instant. No loading time, no downasaur and no buffering. When launched from a user’s home screen, the web app will load despite the the network state, thanks to service workers. A service worker, written in Javascript is like a user-side proxy. It puts the user in control of the stored information (or Cache) and how to respond to resource requests.  To learn more about service workers, check out Google’s Web Fundamentals.


Due to a PWA having an instant loading time, it’s therefore the most user efficient method of using apps. It’s no secret that we, as modern day technology users, want our experiences with our devices and the web to be quick and efficient. Kissmetrics blog tells us that 40% of users will abandon their search if there’s no response from a page within 3 secondsIt goes without saying that the user experience is of the highest quality, with silky smooth scrolling and quick responses to user interactions.


Web apps are installable and live on a user’s home screen, rather than having to download through your app store. They offer an engaging full-screen experience, with assistance from a web app manifest file and can even re-engage users with web push notificationsThe Web App Manifest allows the user to control how the app appears and how it’s launched. You can specify such factors as screen orientation, home screen icons, the page to load when the app is launched, and even whether or not to show the browser chrome.


Why should you build a Progressive Web App?

The web reaches 3 times as many people when compared to apps and it’s on the rise. Users who engage deeply with services on their phone tend to do so through apps, since native apps have had the capacity for features like push notifications. So, it goes without saying that joining the two forces together, would increase such benefits as, increased engagement, improved conversions and work reliability. Here’s a great example provided by Sam Birch at a Web Seminar focusing on Progressive Web Apps:

Way back in 2011 the “Financial Times” abandons their native apps. They built the web app using the best technology available at the time and app.ft.com has been going strong ever since. Recently, that experience has gotten even better as browsers have caught up to support developers building deeply engaging experiences on the web. And now their site is a fully fledged Progressive Web App. That means I can save it to my home screen and even read an article whilst I’m offline. The “Financial Times” will sync and offline section of the paper so that I can read it, even while I’m on the train. And this uses the service worker. And they’ve even got an offline Naval podcasting app, is available at listen.ft.com.’

– Sam Birch, Product Manager working Chrome for Android at Google

Big Brands using Progressive Web Apps

Forbes, also took a huge step in the right direction by launching their PWA for mobile. Lewis Dvorkin, Chief Product Officer at Forbes Media spoke to Google Chrome Developers about the success of their PWA since its launch. After launching their PWA, Forbes saw a 43% increase of number of sessions per users and a 100% increase of time per session. So not only was the experience for their users better, it was also a great business move for Forbes.

‘The technology has enabled us to make our new PWA faster then our current mobile site. We are now able to delver visuals faster. And if you can start to deliver visuals faster then you can start to change the formats you do. People are willing to stay longer, if they stay longer they see more advertising. The PWA is going to result in more personalisation, personalisation will yield more engagement. The web has made me realise there’s an audience out there, there’s an audience that’s knowledgable and there’s an audience that needs to be understood.’ – Lewis Dvorkin

Even makeup moguls such as Lancôme are utilising the use of PWA. Mobile device traffic was dramatically eclipsing desktop traffic. However 38% of shopping carts orders were on desktop while mobile conversions fell well below at 15%. This discrepancy revealed that consumers were experiencing great obstacles when purchasing products via mobile. Lȃncome struggled to build and retain their fast and immersive user experience for their mobile shopping users. Having invested in service workers to help deliver their web app, Lancôme saw a 50% increase in mobile sessions and an increase of 17% conversions. The new strategy also increased efficiency across platforms, iOS was particularly important for Lancôme as 65% of users landing on their Progressive Web App were using iPhones. Since the launch, there was a 53% increase in session length and a decrease of 10% in bounce rates. Lancôme’s higher engagement results was due to the sites increase in download speeds and user-interface improvements.

Lastly, social media giants Twitter jumped on the wagon with developing their own web app, ‘Twitter Lite.’ With 328 million users and 80% of them using mobile devices, Twitter developed Twitter Lite with the intention to deliver a more robust experience, with specific goals for instant loading, user engagement and lower data consumption. With 65% increase in pages per session, 75% increase in Tweets sent and 20% decrease in bounce rates, it’s safe to say they hit the nail on the head. Nicolas Gallagher, the Engineering Lead for Twitter Lite, notes:

“Twitter Lite is now the fastest, least expensive, and most reliable way to use Twitter. The web app rivals the performance of our native apps but requires less than 3% of the device storage space compared to Twitter for Android.” – Nicolas Gallagher, Engineering Lead for Twitter Lite,

Read more about how Twitter did it! 

So, what is the goal of a Progressive Web App?

The goal isn’t to get users to install an app, it’s to get them using your service. Making the experience of your mobile website radically better by building a PWA will not only help to engage with users but to also aid in retaining users who were previously, just passing by. It’s clear by the statistics given above that web apps are far surpassing the use of any other method of using applications. With better user friendly experiences, by default follows increasing conversion rates, better reliability rates, longer session times and decreasing bounce rates.  The question isn’t whether you should utilise Progressive Web Apps, the question is why wouldn’t you!

To read more about Native Apps vs. Mobile Web Apps, read our previous blog!




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