Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How Progressive Web Apps Provide A Frictionless User Experience

What’s your experience like using an average app? Is it pleasant, feature-rich, and user friendly? Or is it laggy from infrequent updates and rarely used with an old, clunky interface? If you picked the first description, I’d bet that you’re referring to one of the ‘big dogs’ of the mobile app field (think Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.). Apps that aren’t part of the top 10 most used apps have to fight for the remaining four percent of user time spent in apps. It can be difficult for companies to develop apps that can fight through those odds, and those that do are subject to significant friction from updating, infrequent usage, storage consumption, app fatigue, and poor design. Doesn’t sound like a great user experience, does it? But–good news!–Progressive Web Apps to the rescue. This new mobile technology provides a frictionless user experience and alleviates many of the pain points consumers are starting to notice when using native mobile apps.

Download, Update, Delete, Repeat
Of the 3.3 million apps available in the Google Play Store, about 60 percent of them have never been downloaded. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that over half of smartphone users will download a whopping zero apps per month. Even looking at those who do download the app, 80 percent of users who download fail to become active users. Odds are, these numbers can be directly tied back to discoverability issues or poor user experiences. But the good news? PWAs solve these problems with the ability to activate with just one tap via contextual activation methods like NFC, QR codes, and text-in codes. Activating with a single scan, tap, or text–as opposed to about six clicks through an app store–allows businesses to increase engagement and provide a more seamless user experience.

Use It or Lose It
Ok, so we know that users aren’t too keen on the download and update cycle that comes with native mobile apps, but where in the cycle is the friction enough to cause them to abandon an app altogether? The most common reason for smartphone users to delete apps is infrequent usage. Forty-eight percent of 18-54 year old users rank frequency of usage as their top reason for deleting an app. The next most common reasons? Decluttering their home screens and saving storage, both of which were reported by over 40 percent of users. PWAs not only use significantly less space (just look at the Starbucks PWA, which is .4 percent the size of its native counterpart), but they also allow users to re-access with those handy contextual activation methods, without ever requiring a download.

Nobody Wants To Search For Your App
As businesses began to look towards apps in order to connect and engage with their customers, the app stores quickly became bloated and overwhelming for users. (Remember how I mentioned earlier that there are 3.3 billion apps in the Google Play Store?) In reality, users almost exclusively use social media, retail, and web browsing apps. Having users install an app pushes a business out from within those categories to fighting against these monolithic segments. Instead, developing a more personalized and accessible mobile experience through PWAs allows businesses to create quicker, more engaging interactions with their customers, and takes the crowded app store out of the equation.

Cumbersome installation and update processes, infrequent usage, low levels of penetration, and app fatigue all contribute to a loss of faith in native apps and their friction-filled user experience. The solution is the access point that has been widely accepted and fine tuned since the birth of its current form in 1990: the Web. Progressive Web Apps are here to create a better user experience while fast tracking installation and reducing storage requirements.