Nothing stays the same forever on the internet. What was fashionable in terms of web design five years ago is redundant now. WordPress changed the way that the majority of basic business websites look and feel, and now we’re taking more and more steps toward the era of mobile-centric internet. You’ve probably heard that phrase before, but what do we mean when we say it?
In simple terms, a mobile-centric internet is one that’s designed for users who interact with your content through the screen of their mobile phone. In the not-too-distant future, that will account for the majority of your website’s users. Web traffic is still rising every single year, but in 2019 that rise was driven almost exclusively by mobile-based web traffic. While your website might appear identical whether it’s viewed on a phone or a laptop screen, there’s a significant difference between their experience. Most importantly, your mobile users don’t have access to a keyboard or a mouse. If mobile users are the majority of your viewers, then we should begin to assume that those viewers don’t have a keyboard or mouse rather than assuming that they do.
Major industries appear to be cottoning on to the idea of shifting the focus to mobile traffic one at a time. One of the very first big-money industries to notice the change was the world of web-based casinos, with their online slots websites. You could load almost any large online slots website of your choosing, and you’ll note the same thing about their layout. There are very few text entry points, and all of the content on the homepage can be activated by touch. Usually, a player can gain access to an online slots game like Fluffy favourite mobile slot within two to three screen presses after arriving at the site. That’s the level of interactivity and simplicity you should be aspiring to if you want to get ahead of the trend. To do that, you’re going to watch to start incorporating progressive web apps.
You probably have a few questions about this, and we imagine your first one is ‘what’s a progressive web app?’ It’s a good question, and one we’ll provide a detailed answer to. A progressive web app is a feature that, to all intents and purposes, makes your website function more like an app on your smartphone than an old-fashioned, traditional website of the past. The apps on your phone mostly have an easy-to-understand layout – there’s a three-striped menu button, a home screen icon, and a facility to send push notifications from the app directly to your phone’s home screen to tell you when there’s something worth looking at. There’s no reason why a website can’t also provide this functionality in 2020 – and therefore there’s also no reason why it shouldn’t.
By this point, you should already have encountered several websites that offer you the chance to receive push notifications to your desktop if you’re a Chrome user. You might even have granted that permission to a few of your favorite websites. This feature is not new. It’s been around for five years but only became popular around two years ago. There are some web users who don’t like it because it feels intrusive, but they’re a loud minority. For obvious reasons, being able to push notifications about your products and services directly to your readers is a huge plus from a marketing point of view. Why spend money on email marketing when you can alert someone to your latest offer directly?
The second huge advantage you’ll get from using progressive web apps is the ability to cache your website on your reader’s device. Not all content can be cached, but enough can be stored to dramatically speed up loading times the next time your customer visits your website. All progressive web apps are capable of working offline through the use of cached data. This is especially pertinent now because there have been whispers that Google is going to start taking website loading time into account in its algorithms. If true, that will mean that pages that are slow to load are going to start appearing lower down in search results. From a business point of view, that would be catastrophic.
As a third reason – as if one were needed – turning your website into an app is a fine substitute for actually designing and building a standalone app. Even if you’re tempted to design and build an app, we suggest that you don’t. Head to the App Store and take a look at the current top one hundred downloads. Other than Amazon, there isn’t one single retail company on the list. Unless you’re one of the world’s biggest players in your chosen sector, your customers aren’t going to download your app, and the time and money invested in creating it will be wasted. Instead of doing that, use progressive web apps to give your website’s users an app-like experience and get all the benefits at only a fraction of your costs.
All of these benefits together result in one thing – enhanced conversion rates. Your page loads faster, ranks better, and allows you to push notifications directly to your customers at any time of your choosing. That’s bound to give your sales a boost, and the boost will probably come at a lower cost than it would do if you were still running your outdated website and tired email-based marketing methods. The world of web commerce is taking another step into the future, and progressive web apps are the new shoes you’ll need to be wearing if you’re going to take that step yourself.
We appreciate that even having read this article, some of you won’t know what a progressive web app is or how to create one. That’s fine – not everyone is supposed to! Your usual web designer or software engineer should be one hundred percent aware of what they are and what they do, though, and so if you haven’t had this conversation with them before, it’s time to start that dialogue and draw up a plan. There’s a whole new world of marketing opportunity out there to take advantage of if you want to do it – you just need to get the ball rolling!