Introducing the New Benchmarks for Progressive Web Apps
How does your progressive web app (PWA) compare to other brands? While there are excellent PWA quality tests like the Lighthouse tool, until recently there’s been a dearth of metrics to compare against industry averages and identify opportunities to improve the customer experience within PWAs. In a recent 2019 Q2 Mobile Commerce Insights Report, we took at look at what areas to inspect as well as offer suggestions to solve some of the major pain points that can take a PWA from adequate to superior.
Even if you don’t have a PWA yet, it’s worth paying attention to metrics. Why? Because analysts are predicting PWAs will replace half of consumer-facing mobile apps in the next year, and Google is now poised to prioritize PWAs in search results. And it’s not just for mobile. Brands that want to scale new experiences quickly for mobile, desktop and tablet are taking a headless approach to e-commerce, using PWAs as a great way to deliver modern web technology across all touchpoints. Now more than ever, retailers want to get the most out of their PWAs as an important component of their strategic front-end investment.
But where to start? PWA micro-conversion or continuation rates may be the best place because it’s where a shopper starts as they move down the funnel of your site. Typically, a customer starts at the product description page, then moves to the cart, checkout and finally, purchase. Comparing against industry benchmarks can tell you where you want to be and help to find a myriad of factors that could stall the process. Do you have bulky images, for example, that are loading slowly? Does your content create a fast, fluid and frictionless experience that looks and feels like a native app? While the PWA itself uses instant page transitions and offline caching to load quickly or with connectivity, it’s the PWA designer that builds on these capabilities to communicate a feeling of fluidity and high performance. Therefore, seeing how you stack up on micro conversions is job one.
Bounce rates are constantly monitored to measure engagement, and they should be here as well. High bounce rates indicate a host of problems that may be search, content or design related — or a combination of all three. Even more telling a metric is “pre-bounce rates” — i.e., the rate at which shoppers drop off before the page even loads. Recognizing these gaps and seeing how you compare to others can help you determine what to do to provide a faster, more intuitive experience from the start.
Next, we compare performance benchmarks — e.g., first and subsequent page loads. Here, it’s important to look at different page types and see how some of the more content-rich pages like product description pages stack up against others in your market. If you notice below-average continuation rates or above-average bounce rates for a particular page type, you can make changes accordingly.
Benchmarking performance doesn’t stop at looking at the initial metrics and running a tool like Lighthouse. You’ll want to continually test performance over time because, with PWAs, code changes are going to be far more frequent. Our top PWA customers are now deploying changes to their front-end weekly, and many plan to push this to daily for the entire cross-device front-end.
The days of the large website redesign are (thankfully) gone. Being able to rapidly build, run and evolve front-end experiences like PWAs that stand out from competitors and make customers take notice is truly progressive. As more companies see success there will be more data and more ways to benchmark and evaluate your way to success in your market.
Karey Shumansky is a data scientist at Mobify, a front-end as a service that unlocks the agility of a headless commerce approach and powers fast, immersive experiences with PWAs, AMP, and native apps.
Related story: Why All Retailers Need to Be Aware of PWAs