App / 6 min read

What is a Progressive Web App? How to choose an agency?

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By Marion / June 09, 2021

What is a progressive web app (PWA)? What other types of mobile apps are there?

Before we get started on explaining how a progressive web app works, it’s important to clarify that there are different types of mobile apps. There are three basic types of mobile apps:

Native apps

Native apps are built just for one specific platform or operating system (Android, iOS, Blackberry, etc).  You cannot mix and match (you can’t have an Android app on an iOS phone, for example). The advantage is that native apps are faster, have longer battery power, are more reliable and you have access to the features of your device (camera, contacts, etc).

Web (or progressive) apps (PWA)

Web apps are accessed via a web browser and are responsive versions of websites. More to follow.

Hybrid apps

Hybrid apps are a combination of native and web apps. They might have a home screen app icon, some responsive design and might even work offline. But they are really web apps with a native app shell.

Progressive web apps (PWA)

Web apps are accessed via a web browser and are responsive versions of websites. The objective of a progressive web app is to provide an app-like experience.

In this sense, they are not standalone apps where you have to download and install it on your device. The advantage is that there’s nothing to download, but web apps are entirely dependent on the browser you use on the device (which means limited functionalities). They will need an internet connection to work. You might come across the term progressive web app (PWA) – this is a native app running inside a browser.

What are the components of a progressive web app

A progressive web app consists of a list of technologies and features that bridge the gap between a native app and a progressive web app. Here we list some of the components:

These characteristics should serve as guidelines when you build a progressive web app. The answer to whether your application is progressive, therefore, is more of a scale than a binary choice.

At the end of the day, a progressive web app is a web application only — therefore, it does not appear in any app store.

Does this harm your application? This is always a trade-off. 

Mobile operating systems that have app stores online are Android, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and BlackBerry from where you can download and install apps on your device. These app stores give you discoverability and an audience of new users that are waiting there to be served new and interesting apps. 

Delivering a PWA is overall easier, but you do have to have a pre-existing audience to whom you’re going to market the app.

Pros and cons

Native mobile apps generally take a few steps to install and set up, but the advantage is that native apps are faster, are more reliable and you have access to the features of your device (camera, contacts, etc).

On the other hand, a user is able to use a progressive web app almost immediately and the most significant benefit of PWAs is an efficient use of bandwidth (since they are just text-based code, they are ideally smaller than the installation file of a native application). Thus, a user potentially has to spend less data to get your application running on their device.

The top 5 most important things you should look for in an agency and how do you measure success?

What can we use to measure success when we work with an agency? Instead of return on advertising spend, we use return on agency spend.

The equation is simple: Agency spend = value of agency brings - costs the agency incurs. 

Agency value applies to:

Agency cost refers to:

The top five most important things you should look for in an agency

If we look at our equation from above, the key to improve return on agency spend is: to increase the value they provide and decrease the cost that they incur.

Here are five points if you want to get the most value out of your relationship with a marketing agency.

1. Align your goal and statement of work (SOW)

Focus on what you want:  do you want a deliverable-based, goal-based, or hourly-based contract. Here’s a list of questions and notes to find out what you want.

Deliverables-based SOW:  Do you want to be solely accountable for the strategy and results? Cost will be lower, and chance of success might also be lower. Your vendor agreements must be based on deliverables or hourly figures to be able to work that way. If your business doesn’t have enough historical data to create a reasonable goal, then this might be your preferred option.

Goals-based SOW:  Agency will participate more in the strategy and results. Costs will be higher, success might also be higher. You'll need staff to act on the tasks given by the agency. You have good historical data you can trust to form accurate goals.

Hourly-based SOW: Most flexible, option to scale up and scale down quickly. Least level of accountability on the agency. But be aware of going over budget and put some controls in place ... 

Performance-based SOW: KPI's must be set from the word 'go' and what happens if KPIs are not met? This is where a performance-based statement of work comes into play. If you decide on this, both parties agree on a percentage of refund or bonus based on the percentage of goal completion (ideally, that contract is focused on one main KPI).

Note: If you want your agency to be more involved with your strategy (which is what you want typically from an agency partnership), you might want to look into a goal-based SOW.

This incentive can lead to a higher chance of success for your organisation over deliverable-based or hourly-based SOW.

2. Establish your goals and what you need from your agency

Before you hire, know what you want from your agency. To prepare here are some questions you should ask yourself:

What is my company goal? My marketing goal? My channel goals? Where will an agency fit?

KPIs, how will you measure the relationship? What numbers will you look at to know if things are going well? What are the current baselines for those KPIs?

Relationship with the agency, how will we communicate? What reports do I want? 

Questions to ask the agency: How long have you been in business? How many people will be working on my account? Who will be working on my account? What makes your agency different? How will you help us achieve our goals? Why do you recommend that strategy? How will the work be executed?

And we suggest asking for references. Your ideal agency should have happy employees and solid culture. Much larger fulfillment team than the sales team. Honesty and competency.

The more you’re investing, the more you should make sure that you’re decreasing risk by asking for references of people that have actually worked with that agency before.

3. Make your agency love your product

When your agency believes in you and what you have to offer, they will be more likely to go the extra mile.

How do you do this? Give the team space to learn about your company, where you’ve been, what you’re doing as an organisation, and where you’re planning to go. Introduce them to people they may not be working with directly. The more people they know, the more they’ll feel like they know your company and the more they’ll understand how their work impacts others. Show them behind the scenes, how the company operates. Where applicable, get your marketing team trying your product or experiencing your service.

4. Make them trust you

Tips to help you build mutual trust: Regular calls should be organic discussions rather than formal meetings. Speak up when something is out of place. Allow your agency the space to provide input. Spend some time in person. Quarterly reviews become celebrations. Stress goes down.

5. New ideas and innovation

A good agency should be bringing new ideas and contribute to the strategy, should make you and them push harder. Make the agency aware of your marketing stack, as well as your larger goals – beyond the work they’re doing. Continue to build rapport and your agency will be thinking about you regularly, which is where the ideas are born.

So there’s a rough idea of how a progressive web app works and the top five most important things you should look for in an agency. 

If you’re interested in creating an app with us then visit our mobile app design page for more information or want to know more? Contact us for a free two-hour session.

 

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

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