Mobile usage has increased dramatically over the last few years and is continually changing the face of digital publishing. Digital platforms have transformed entirely, and it is businesses that embrace new technologies that are able to excel. At the same time as mobile usage has increased so have customer expectations. Customers are no longer happy to wait for pages to load; they want services and products at their fingertips, immediately. This is where Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) have come into play. They are both technologies designed to provide richer and faster experiences to mobile users. AMPs and PWAs have changed the game for marketers and delivered fast access to web content where it was needed the most. In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between AMPs and PWAs and which is better for your business.
What are AMPs and PWAs?
As web users moved more and more of their time over to mobile, the pressure was on for companies to deliver remarkable experiences. However, mobile posed its own challenges in comparison to desktop with unreliable networks, long delays and the fleeting attention span of the user. Before AMPs and PWAs changed the playing field, users had to either browse the mobile-web or download mobile apps. Mobile-web offered an immense reach, but it couldn’t deliver the desired customer experience. Native apps were able to deliver on experience but not to reach anywhere near the same volume of people. Mobile-websites lost users due to slow load speeds, and native apps lost a considerable amount of their users shortly after download, if they were willing to download them at all.
AMPs and PWAs were both born from the idea of merging mobile apps and mobile web, the dream of getting the best of both worlds. The focus was on the downfalls of the alternatives, page-load speed and user engagement.
Accelerated Mobile Pages is an open source initiative that was designed by Google and Twitter to focus on the load speed of mobile pages. In simple terms, AMPs work by taking an existing mobile-optimized web page and making it load more quickly by stripping it down to its basics. Pages are sized statistically and heavy components, like images, aren’t downloaded until the user can view them. The simplified HTML is extremely lightweight and most importantly is really fast loading.
Progressive Web Apps are essentially mobile apps that are delivered through the web. The main point of difference is that they don’t need to be downloaded from an app store. PWAs look like normal web pages but offer enhanced functionality to make them more app-like. In fact, they act and feel just like an app; they can work offline and deliver push notifications. They work by using APIs and service workers, scripts that enable features to be run independently of user interaction, to allow instant loading and app-like customer experience.
What are the benefits of AMPs and PWAs?
What are the Pros and Cons of AMPs and PWAs?
It can seem at a quick glance that PWAs have a lot of advantages over AMPs. They create a typical mobile page and an app wrapped up in a neat package. Everything can be managed together, yet the user has the choice of how to interact with content. They are reliable, even when the network isn’t, yet don’t take up the volume of space of native apps. In comparison to AMPs, PWAs provide high engagement rate, work more quickly and can be relied upon to deliver all of the content to the user.
It would be easy to think that PWAs are the answer and will soon replace all native apps. However, AMPs certainly have their place and deliver some fantastic benefits. The key differences between the two are in the following vital areas:
- Discoverability – due to the boost in search engine rankings from Google, AMPs outperform PWAs for discoverability. They are delivered on a carousel in Google search results and are much more likely to be found.
- Speed – as AMPs use simple code and are a light version of normal websites, they are incredibly fast. The content that is supported may not be as engaging, but they definitely deliver quicker load times than PWAs.
There are great examples out there of both AMPs and PWAs, and the primary driver is improving the experience for mobile users. Flipkart was the first big PWA success story, changing the plan to only have a native app, their PWA engaged users and saw a 70% rise in conversion rates. Companies like the Washington Post have looked to a PWA to increase load speed, vital for a platform with a huge volume of articles. The change resulted in an incredible 88% increase in load time in relation to its mobile website. Meanwhile, AMPs are proving popular with big brands too. The likes of The Verge, The Guardian and WordPress have all implemented AMPs to create faster experiences for their mobile users.
How to Choose Between Them
As we’ve covered the pros and cons of AMPs and PWAs, the choice comes down to what is most important to your business and, ultimately, your customers. With AMPs users will be able to access your content more quickly. With PWAs, on the other hand, you can enhance both user experience and user engagement. Fortunately, as these are both extremely important functions, it might not be a case of having to choose between the two technologies.
Google has made proposals for how the two types of technologies could work together. PWAs have received a lot of attention due to their ability to connect with audiences offline through a mobile app that doesn’t rely on Google. It’s no surprise that Google wants to find ways to build upon this popularity. One way that this might happen is by using AMPs to start the user session. As it will be the first page they’ll land on the user will receive content as quickly as possible. The AMP can then install the service worker and get the PWA up and running, allowing the PWA to be delivered at the next click.
As a website owner, it will more than likely become vital to have the support of both of these technologies to serve your website visitors in the way they are becoming used to. Website development plans should focus on ensuring users can access content as quickly as possible while enhancing user experience and user engagement. AMPs and PWAs are well placed to deliver, and a combined effort may reap the most significant return.