Why Progressive Web Apps Make Sense

by Jan Schulte, Head of Group Consulting at Magnolia
Jan 31, 2020 | 6 MIN

The web experiences needed to keep consumers satisfied in 2020 requires a new approach by brands. A company website isn’t what consumers want anymore, and many organizations are looking for a new strategy.

Today’s digital landscape requires web experiences built using modern tools and technologies. That’s why PWAs — developed using React, Angular, or another web framework — make sense for many brands. Let’s take a closer look at how web usage trends are changing, and why progressive web apps (PWAs) may be the best way forward for most brands.

The Changes In Web Usage

In the past, brands could design a sleek website and launch a mobile app expecting to get traffic from their intended audience. Nowadays, however, this strategy isn’t working as desktop usage is on the decline and most consumers download fewer mobile apps than ever before.

Declining Desktop Usage

As smartphones, tablets, and other devices have evolved, consumers can now do the majority of their everyday web tasks without a computer. That means traditional web experiences that are optimized for desktops and laptops receive less traffic than in the past. Browsing the web using mobile phones is also far more common in developing countries than desktops.

Fewer Mobile App Downloads

While mobile usage statistics may indicate a large volume of downloads in app stores, these downloads are limited to a small subset of consumers. Most consumers don’t download new apps in any given month because too many apps often cause cognitive overload. And the apps consumers do download are more likely to be games than business apps as well because app stores are oversaturated with low quality apps while the most popular apps are consolidated amongst just a few market leaders. All this said, consumers — especially younger generations — are spending significantly more time in apps than on the web.

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Where PWAs Fit In

The trends in web usage lean towards convenient web apps that you don’t have to download, yet still provide an app-like experience. They’re also easier to build than native apps and generally have better performance than traditional websites. That’s why many brands are turning towards PWAs as their primary web presence.

Don’t have to download anything (but still can)

PWAs — like a single-page app — can be visited like any normal website with just a web browser. That means companies don’t need to ensure their apps meet the strict requirements of the Apple Store or Google Play Store. Brands also don’t need to compete against the declining app downloads, and can focus on content marketing and SEO strategies to bring traffic directly to their PWAs. That said, a unique capability of PWAs is the ability for users to install them to their home screen for easier access.

Provides a native-like experiences

As the trends suggest, consumers like the experience of using apps, but aren’t likely to actually download new ones. That’s why leveraging the native-like features of PWAs is crucial for capturing the attention of customers. These native app features include offline support and a responsive design that makes using the web app seamless on a wide array of smartphones, tablets, and other devices. From a marketing perspective, the ability to reach consumers through push notifications and implement a geofencing strategy using GPS technologies make PWAs even more useful for capturing the attention of their audiences.

Easier to build than native apps

In general, native apps cost more and take longer to develop than PWAs. That’s because development teams need to have the tech talent available to work with both iOS and Android development environments. While developing mobile apps has gotten easier with React Native and other cross-platform frameworks, many organizations may find that it’s more cost-effective to build a PWA that can be optimized for any device with web browsing capabilities instead.

Faster load speeds

While it’s becoming more challenging to capture the attention of consumers and draw them away from the largest social media platforms, it’s becoming easier to lose their interest as well. Consumers are less likely to return to a brand’s website, and if the site has slow loading speed they may not visit at all. PWAs, however, often have faster loading speeds than traditional websites because they’re progressive — or limit the functionality provided to each end-user based on their device’s capabilities and hardware. This means PWAs can lead to lower bounce rates and better user engagement than traditional websites.

Modernize Your Web Tech And Become a Digital Leader

Traditional websites are on the decline, and marketing teams need to adapt their strategy for the future of web experiences. Along with a new approach to digital marketing, companies will need to build out an adaptable tech stack for delivering compelling digital experiences with speed and efficiency. And in many cases, PWAs make the most sense for a brand’s primary web presence.

For companies looking to implement a best of breed tech stack, Magnolia CMS has the capabilities for launching modern web experiences. While brands have a number of intuitive features for building traditional websites using the platform, Magnolia CMS also recognized the massive trend towards PWAs and SPAs. That’s why the CMS has a set of integration libraries for the major SPA/PWA web frameworks: Angular, React, and Vue. For marketers, the platform also includes a visual SPA editor that allows users to edit web app content in-context and view live previews in a headless environment.

Toto-Lotto Niedersachsen GmbH — the operator of the Lotto.de website for the country’s independent lottery companies — leveraged Magnolia CMS to relaunch the site as PWA. Previously, the company had been operating two separate websites for mobile and desktop users, but this was inefficient and costly for the organization. That’s why Lotto.de was rebuilt from the ground up using modern web technologies and a hybrid-headless content delivery approach using Magnolia. As a result, the company now offers the most innovative digital gambling experience possible to its users.

Magnolia CMS streamlines the process for launching superior web experiences. If you want to learn more about why PWAs — and other innovative technologies — are the best way to ensure your brand can meet the consumer demands for web experiences in 2020, see our detailed guide: Digital Experience in 2020: Why websites and Apps Aren't Enough?

Jan Schulte

About the Author

Working at the intersection of business and technology, Jan helps Magnolia clients succeed with their content management and digital experience initiatives, framing solutions to their custom challenges and opportunities.

See all posts by Jan Schulte