The Importance Of Integrating Progressive Web Applications Into Your Responsive Web Design

Why you should integrate progressive web applications into your web design


Digital marketers around the world understand the importance of optimizing their web presence for mobile use. If your website, blog, podcasts, and more aren’t easily accessible via a handheld smart device, you’re losing customers by the minute. Today’s consumer doesn’t have the patience or even the time to wait for a page to load, a pixelated graphic to adjust, or lengthy text to wrap itself around the screen. As such, it comes as no surprise that most digital marketers have already gone to great lengths to ensure their web designs are as responsive as possible. This is especially important considering that studies reveal that 30% of online shoppers will abandon their virtual shopping cart if it isn’t user-friendly, intuitive and optimized for mobile use.

Yet, creating a responsive design is only the first step. Next, it’s important to optimize for speed and efficiency. The answer to achieving this goal lies in strategically combining Responsive Web Design (RWD) with Progressive Web Applications, or PWAs, to drive a lightning-fast online presence that’s anything but slow. Seeing as most Google queries (about 60%) begin on a smartphone or tablet, it’s vital that your business information loads as quickly as possible. Yet, according to a recent Think with Google study, a staggering 70% of web pages take more than seven seconds to load. Compare that statistic with the fact that humans now have an only-eight second attention span, and there’s only a one-second buffer keeping someone from closing the window and checking out a competitor.

For all their mobile optimization, why are these sites still lagging? Most of the errors can be attributed to errors on the backend, including blocked JavaScript or CSS files. Other common issues include failed redirects, poor image processing and pixelation, and unnatural search/SEO functions. To address these issues, many business leaders turn to a content management system, or CMS, that can truly optimize all content for speed and performance. Yet, with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to discern which CMS configuration is ideal for your business type and target audience.

Making the Case for RWD

Rather than create a standalone mobile website, which can hurt SEO odds and be a costly investment, consider utilizing a responsive web design (RWD) coupled with AMPs to drive quality and speed. More often that not, a responsive web design plugin is available through your CMS of choice, and if so, it’s worth a download. Making the transition to a RWD is a solid move, as it enables you to adjust your layout to accommodate myriad devices and also allows you to keep all of your web-based content on a single URL. The result is a more cost-effective, yet equally sleek presence that won’t require extensive upkeep and continual investment like a standalone site would.

Keep in mind, however, that while RWD presents benefits to small business marketers, startups, and those on a budget, it’s not a failsafe solution to the mobile optimization issue. There are still issues inherent with RWD design, including slower loading times, no touch-screen optimization, and the need for manual manipulation of small-screen data such as charts and graphs. This can make integration with online tools, PDFs, digital media files and more a bit cumbersome. As a result, businesses with a slightly bigger budget are leaning toward adopting more robust PWAs.

Advantages of PWAs for Mobile Optimization

In a nutshell, PWAs are websites that are characterized as an app and have all the built-in functionality that apps contain. Yet, they do not require a user download, eliminating that extra step that can keep some customers away. Still, it’s arguably the most mobile-friendly technology that marketers have at their disposal, though it has yet to see mainstream adoption.

Users will access a PWA through a standard web browser and the sites utilize traditional JavaScript or CSS language, coupled with HTML, to operate. Thanks to their universal resource identifiers, PWAs can be bookmarked or linked to as any other site would. The only difference is that their loading speed is incredibly quick. On top of their improved accessibility, PWAs also offer the following advantages to users:

  • The ability to work while offline
  • Universally high-quality performance on any device or browser
  • Sleeker navigational controls and quicker web-based transitions
  • The ability to index and link

You can also send push notifications via PWAs as a subsector of mobile marketing. For now, the main players utilizing this technology are e-commerce retailers, who are tapping into PWAs to facilitate quicker checkout times. Still, with their ability to leverage online capabilities and their user-friendliness, these applications are quickly gaining speed across myriad industries.

While RWD is ideal for SMBs operating on a modest budget, PWAs are costly and will likely require a professional web designer to implement. Yet, their universal browser responsiveness, continual enhancements, and navigational speed make it a worthy investment if the bottom line is there. Moving into 2018, successful companies will be those who not only enable their audience to have a mobile interaction with their brand, but make that interaction as seamless and pain-free as possible. Though further investigation is required, it appears that PWAs are changing the game for this capability and are the way to go. 

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