An Introductory FAQ to Progressive Web Apps & Accelerated Mobile Pages

Progressive Web Apps and Accelerated Mobile Pages are becoming more popular in the digital customer experience world, but there are still a lot of questions around these Google-pioneered technologies. Whether you’re completely new to PWAs and AMP, or have a high-level understanding of the two, this introductory FAQ will answer all of your questions. Learn what all the acronyms mean, understand where Progressive Web Apps can be used, and how to leverage them to launch your digital transformation.

If you’re really familiar with both and want to do a deeper dive on implementation, analytics, and strategies, check out our deep dive FAQ on PWAs and AMP.

What is a Progressive Web App?

A Progressive Web App is a website that uses modern web capabilities to create an app-like experience. For a long time native apps on iOS and Android offered the most powerful mobile shopping experiences as they take full advantage of the hardware specs of a mobile device. Because of this, native apps were much faster than a mobile website and had other great features like push notifications, offline shopping, ability to add a homescreen icon, etc. Today, Google is unlocking all these capabilities in the web browser. This allows you to deliver the features and functionalities of an app to your larger audience on the web.

Do I have to download a Progressive Web App from the App Store or Google Play Store?

No. A Progressive Web App is a website, not a native app. Like all websites, Progressive Web Apps are accessed through the web browser rather than downloaded from the app store.

How do the benefits of a Progressive Web App and native app differ?

Progressive Web Apps are ideal for acquiring new customers and engaging your larger audience on the mobile web. They work with all of your existing web marketing technologies and benefit from your digital marketing investments in SEO, Adwords, etc.

Native apps are often used by brands to engage their most loyal customers with point programs or loyalty cards. Depending on your business objectives, you may use a native app to power experiences that leverage the device’s hardware, such as in-store technology, VR, and geofencing. Having an app in the app store will also improve discoverability.

Do Progressive Web Apps work on both iOS and Android?

Yes, Progressive Web Apps work on both iOS and Android devices. With the launch of iOS 11.3 earlier this year, Apple released the technology – service workers – that powers the app-like features of a Progressive Web App. Fun fact: Progressive Web Apps on iOS are predicted to outperform Progressive Web Apps on Android with faster load times.

Are Progressive Web Apps built exclusively for mobile?

No, Progressive Web Apps extend to all screens including desktop and tablet. By delivering a Progressive Web App across mobile, desktop, and tablet, a team can work from a single codebase, reducing maintenance costs and resources. Most brands will start their Progressive Web App project with mobile, recognizing that this is their largest traffic source and greatest opportunity to capture conversions.

If I build a PWA will my URL structure change?

No. Like a responsive website, your URL will remain the same as your desktop URL.

What is the performance lift from a Progressive Web App? Is it faster than a responsive website?

Yes, a Progressive Web App is typically 2-4x faster than a responsive website.

Our data shows that a Progressive Web App for iOS is even faster. The chart below shows that if a subsequent page load on a responsive website takes 5 seconds, that subsequent page load in a PWA would be 16x faster. Here’s a little more on how that works.

Caching is one of the components that contributes to the speed of a PWA. Caching pre-loads and stores your website content on a shoppers device while they browse. This results in faster page load times as the content is already rendered once they get to that page. This also means that the subsequent pages your shopper visits will be faster than the last.

The faster the starting point, the better the improvement

What are Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)?

Accelerated Mobile Pages are landing pages that are cached by Google so that they load instantly. When a customer searches for a product on Google, the retailer’s product page is pre-loaded in the background and loads instantly when selected. AMP has significant impact on reducing initial page load time and as result, lowers bounce rates.

Are there any limitations with AMP pages?

When first released, AMP pages were very static with little interactivity beyond AMP’s pre-built components. Recently, an AMP component called “amp-bind” was released and allows you to work around the previous limitations to build interactive and dynamic AMP pages.

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