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The Convergence of Websites and Apps The Convergence of Websites and Apps

The Convergence of Websites and Apps

We know that more than half of all web traffic occurs on mobile devices now. With the growth of mobile browsing, comes the rise of native apps. Native apps are applications specifically developed for a particular platform (Android, iOS, Microsoft, etc) and takes advantage of the features of that platform. They usually result in greater user satisfaction and engagement.

However, with users being divided on the platforms they use, mainly Android vs. iOS, it becomes exorbitantly expensive to develop a mobile app because you have to create one for each platform and then update them all when changes are made. This problem has given rise to progressive web apps.

Progressive web apps are websites that look and behave like native apps. They don’t require an user to download and install it because it sits on the web and uses a configuration file to allow the developer to access the features of the mobile platform.

Progressive web apps, or PWA’s as they’re called, are basically Javascript-heavy websites that act and function like native apps. They allow the user to add it to their phone screen as an app icon, they provide for full-screen display, they don’t require a URL bar, they allow for push notifications and they work when the user is offline.

Other benefits include:

  • Progressive – they work for all web users, no matter what browser they use.
  • Responsive – they adapt and display well on all devices – desktop, tablet or mobile.
  • Engagement – works like a native app which tends to provide greater engagement and satisfaction
  • Encrypted – they can be served over HTTPS to ensure security of content and data submission.
  • Linkable – you can share the application via a simple link to the URL.

The big benefit is that they are platform agnostic because they are a website and therefore don’t require you to create and maintain different versions for different platforms. Furthermore, you only need to optimise and promote the PWA vs. multiple native apps which provides greater cost savings.

Another benefit is that PWA’s are easier to find as they can be indexed by search engines and therefore found through search results vs. native apps that are found through the platform’s app store. This will change the way you’ll have to promote your mobile app because the app store search algorithm is much less sophisticated than the website ones.

If Google decides to merge the app store algorithm with its web algorithm, then we’ll find that PWA rankings will be subject to changes in engagement and reviews, app performance and efficiency and not just the current web factors that drive high search rankings.  As if we needed more factors to consider for search engine optimisation!

In any case, this trend towards PWA’s is happening, whether we like it or not and it has implications for the search engines and how they address this trend. So far, it appears that it is a positive step for search engines as it removes the problem of indexing native app content and including it in search results.

Google is adding PWA’s into its Play store and Apple has added support of PWA’s on its Safari browser and endorsed it as a better solution to templated native apps. The writing is on the wall, PWA’s are here to stay!

If you have any questions about progressive web apps, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.  Call us on (02) 8211 0668 or email us at [email protected].

Michael Lam

Co-founder of Cornerstone and web junkie, Michael knows just how to diagnose your online problems and remedy the issue. An online enthusiast who believes in technology as an enabler of growth, Michael worries about all the details so you don't have to.

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