UX Design

Progressive Web Apps Vs Responsive Websites: How to Choose


As the number of mobile consumers rises, it is expected that almost 50% of e-commerce sales by 2024 will happen on mobile instead of traditional websites.

This mandates the need for creating intuitive interfaces that facilitate mobile purchases – e-commerce companies that fail to meet the mounting demands of consumers risk getting left behind. 

Most e-commerce sites are not optimized for mobile. Also, it seems unlikely that prospective buyers would download a native app just to buy something off an online store. 

So how do ecommerce companies ensure that they get their leads to convert and their prospects to buy? Well, they have two options to ensure that their digital store gets attention online. 

Progressive vs responsive web: Know the difference

Back in the day when mobile had become popular, responsive design was the first logical step to make websites perform better for mobile users. 

It also quickly became an essential requirement for new websites, and up to 87% of site creators have embraced it for creating stellar digital experiences for website users.

But responsive websites couldn’t offer advanced functionalities like offline support, push messages, and other native app-like features that customers have to expect on their smartphones. 

These features are necessary for driving customer engagement and conversions to your e-commerce store. And that’s why many online businesses are now considering converting their responsive websites into a Progressive Web App or PWA.

While a progressive app mimics the behavior of an app, it isn’t one – it’s a website.

It is developed using CSS, HTML5, or JavaScript for specific screen sizes only. 

Once the screen size is detected, the PWA comes into play– presenting a customized version of the website to the user when they visit. This means that different versions of the same website/web app may need to be developed –depending on the smartphone and tablet screen sizes in everyday use. 

In comparison, a responsive site is developed once, and the onus falls on different mobile devices to display the website according to the screen size. Usually, the scripts running in the background adjust the site so that it fits the user’s screen.

Progressive apps (PWAs) vs responsive websites: The perfect option for you

Both are designed to provide a smooth web experience for users on different devices – so which one works better?

Here are a few ways to differentiate between the two:

PWAs are faster than responsive design

A progressive app is the next step after a responsive website. In all probability, your business already has a website or web app, and you can enhance its effectiveness and make it load faster on different mobile devices.

For example, the UK clothing brand George reported that the implementation of PWA resulting in a website that’s 3.8 times faster than the older one. 

The good news about PWAs is that older browsers support them and that they incorporate modern features like offline support, push notification, native video, and audio capturing capabilities.

PWAs offer the ability to work offline

The application cache feature allows websites to store a large amount of data offline, giving PWAs much of the functionality of native apps.

There’s no need for an internet connection to use a progressive web app because of this feature. 

This helped the online streaming platform ZEE5 reduce the buffering time by 50%, while also giving their users the ability to browse their catalogs in offline mode. 

PWAs are expensive to make and maintain 

The screen size of the user’s device is a vital consideration for developing progressive web apps, which means that the website needs to be developed several times over for different devices.

This undoubtedly makes PWAs the more expensive of the two options –  it can be costly to maintain the web app in the long run as compared to a responsive website.

But it’s a trade-off, as many businesses have seen their profits skyrocket after implementing a PWA. Take the example of the Best Western River North Hotel, which witnessed an increase of 300% in its revenues after setting up a PWA.

Stellar app experience without the development costs with pwas

Progressive web apps make your website feel like a high-quality, well-developed, and expensive app – and that’s excellent value for your money because PWAs don’t cost as much as apps. 

Besides, you won’t have to go through the arduous process of hiring app developers, choosing between native and hybrid apps, selecting the right platform, and testing the app, etc.

Progressive web apps allow different features like file access, task scheduling, SMS/MMS capability, offline storage, location, and device position, to be incorporated directly into the website. 

Save directly to home screen - no need for downloads

Users can save the progressive web app directly to their device’s homepage and use its functions as an app. 

A PWA can:

  • Launch full-screen
  • Get access to the clipboard
  • Access files and read them in a browser 
  • Display a slick user interface that refreshes at 60fps
  • Appear on the apps list as an app, using Web APKs 

Both work well with seo, sem to ensure discoverability

Responsive websites and progressive apps are great for SEO and SEM because they are essentially websites. 

They can be made to rank better by utilizing keywords in headlines and the copy of your website. All the content present on websites and web apps is still crawled and indexed by search engines – they can play a crucial role in the website’s overall rank in the search results.

Businesses can promote both progressive web apps and responsive websites through paid search engine marketing so their website and web apps appear on top of search results for specific keywords and phrases.

In conclusion

As users and customers express their needs and preferences, businesses must learn to pick up on these cues and quickly adapt to the developments so their products and services stay relevant. 

Many factors go into planning and developing a custom website that suits your business needs and appeals to the target audience. Read more about our mobile app design process.

Hopefully, the information in this blog post will help you decide between progressive web apps vs. responsive websites.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about this issue, feel free to call us for a free consultation.

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