PWA vs Native vs Hybrid vs Responsive Website: Full Comparison

Today, 3.5 billion people worldwide are users of smartphones with the number predicted to grow to 3.8 billion the next year.

In 2018, mobile sales accounted for nearly 40% of all Commerce sales in the USA.

Mobile presence is important for every eCommerce business that doesn’t want to lose potential customers. Luckily, there are multiple ways to engage in mCommerce. Native and hybrid applications might be the first to come to mind, but are they that great?

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This article is dedicated to an extensive comparison of responsive websites, native and hybrid apps with a Magento PWA. You will learn which technology is superior and which one will be the best fit for mobile commerce. Read the article to learn about the following aspects:

  • what are PWAs, responsive websites, native apps, and hybrid apps?
  • the benefits of Magento PWA development
  • how PWA vs mobile app vs responsive website are similar and different
  • the best solution for eCommerce
  • GoMage’s Experience in PWA development

Let’s discover key technical and business details!

Overview of All Solutions

The diversity of solutions might create difficulty of choice. All of them have their own benefits and can bring value to your business.

Let’s start with basics and the main definitions of all solutions.

Website vs Hybrid app vs Native app vs PWA

What is a Responsive Website?

A responsive website is a website that was designed to be responsive on any device. It means that such websites perform well on any screen size, be it a huge screen or a small one of a smartphone.

The main goal of a responsive website is to provide users with a seamless user experience regardless of the device they use. Flexible layout is the main element of such websites. It means that content scales together with the changing of the screen size.

Having a responsive website is a must for companies that don’t want to lose customers. Google states that 60% won’t stay on a website if it’s not mobile-friendly and 67% of customers are more likely to make a purchase on a mobile-optimized website.

What is a Native App?

A native application is a software built for a specific mobile operating system and written is a programming language specific for that platform. Today, iOS and Android are leaders on the market of mobile devices.

The main benefit of native applications is seamless user experience and robust features designed for an operating system. Such applications can be installed on a smartphone or tablet and, depending on its model, can work in offline mode.

With a native app, you need to submit it to Google Play or the App Store for review, pass all the requirements to make your application available to users, and stay compliant all the time while your app is available on an app store.

What is a Hybrid App?

Hybrid applications are those that work on all mobile devices. They share the same code base and allow to speed up the development time and save money. Instead of developing a separate Android and iOS app, businesses can create a single application.

Regardless of the advantages, hybrid apps don’t provide the best user experience and cannot boast high performance. In most cases, you cannot utilize all the features peculiar to an operating system and to create apps that heavily rely on the device’s hardware.

All of these factors make them a sufficient solution for a minimum valuable product but not so great for full-fledged digital products.

Just like native apps, hybrid applications are distributed via apps stores. Thus, you need to pass their requirements to place your application there. Moreover, there is always a threat that an app store might delete your app without prior notice.

What is a PWA?

Progressive Web Application (PWA) combines the best features of mobile applications and websites. They are a superior substitute to native apps, as they provide the same level of customer experience and to websites, as PWAs can be installed on mobile devices, just like native apps.

If you want to discover new ways of interaction with customers. PWAs are a great solution. By building a Magento PWA, you shorten the development timeframe and save money. Instead of releasing a responsive website, an iOS and Android app, you can create a single progressive web application that will work on all modern devices.

Magento places huge importance on Magento PWA. At Magento Live Europe in Amsterdam in October 2019, Magento announced that PWA is the main vector for the future Magento platform growth. The company is planning to invest a lot of effort into the PWA Studio development and is going to create a new section in Magento Marketplace to sell extensions and themes for Magento PWA storefront.

Just like Magento, we believe that Magento PWA is the future of eCommerce. As compared to responsive websites, native and hybrid apps, the benefits of PWA are indisputable.

Let’s take a look at the main advantages that a business can get with the move to Magento PWA. You will better understand the value of PWA and why big companies are already adopting this technology.

If you prefer to learn from the video content, check our video explaining Progressive Web Apps and their benefits for eCommerce.

Benefits & Features of Magento PWA Development

Business Benefits of Magento PWA

Magento PWA is a powerful solution for eCommerce businesses. Such applications offer a lot of benefits that can supercharge your operations. Among the best advantages, you will get a higher conversion rate, faster eCommerce website speed, omnipresence on all operating systems, and much, much more.

As you go through this part, you will discover the key benefits of Magento 2 PWA.

  • Device-agnosticism

This is the first and foremost benefit of Magento progressive web applications. Unlike other solutions, users can interact with PWAs on any device and in an internet browser. This way, you automatically increase your chances of expanding your customer base.

  • High SERP ranking

PWAs share a lot in common with traditional websites, one of them being ranked by search engines. As Google now pays close attention to the customer experience that websites provide across all devices, Magento progressive web applications are ranked in top positions in Google SERP.

Implementation of SEO practices will make your application even more discoverable. Combine the efforts with paid ads and other marketing activities, and you will be able to pass competitors with flying colors.

  • Installable

Magento PWAs share a lot in common not only with websites but also with mobile applications. Thus, they can be installed on devices just like traditional apps.

Take Twitter for example. When you visit its website from a mobile device, it offers you to install Twitter PWA on your device. As you allow users to install your app directly from your website, they don’t have to take additional steps and jump to an app store for app installation. As a result, users are more likely to add your application to their devices.

  • Linkable

In eCommerce, the feature to share content and links to products is very important, as it increases the chances of converting even more customers. From websites, Magento PWA took the availability of Unified Resource Identified (URI).

This identifier allows it to retain information and reload its stage. Thus, customers can save links to pages and products inside your PWA, share URLs with friends, and even save pages in tabs and reload their state when they open these pages again.

In this regard, Magento 2 PWAs inherited the best capabilities of traditional websites.

  • App-like functionality

Magento PWA moves beyond browsers. While users can use them just like traditional websites, they can also install them on their devices. Such functionality brings PWA on the same page with native apps and makes them superior to hybrid applications, which don’t always provide the best user experience.

Developing a Magento PWA, developers can use all the features of mobile devices without limitations.

  • Reduce the cost of development

Many companies choose native app development to provide users with superior user experience as compared to hybrid applications. If that’s the case, you are going to pay three times to cover all possible target audiences: for a website, an Android app, and for iOS app. As an average app development cost is about $50,000 for a single version with basic features, you can easily calculate how much money you will need to spend.

As it goes for Magento PWA, you can save a lot of money on development costs. Instead of creating a website and two native applications, you can develop a PWA. The development of a PWA for a big store with a lot of features and customizations will be much lower than the creation of two shopping native applications, let alone adding to the equation the cost of an eCommerce website development.

  • No user-side updates

If you are looking for a way to provide users with an uninterrupted shopping experience and access to the latest features, Magento PWA is your answer. Unlike traditional applications, PWAs don’t ask for update permission. All updates are performed automatically, even if customers forget to allow for it.

  • Offline mode

With progressive web applications, customers will be able to shop at your store even without an internet connection.

The built-in cache system automatically saves information about all visited pages, which allows for offline app operation. If your target audience is spread among different counties and not all locations have a great network connection, Magento PWA will solve the problem. Such solutions are also beneficial for shopping-on-the-go. When users navigate through your store while commuting, e.g. while in the subways, they can view content even in cases of sudden connection loss.

This property has a real-life benefit, as it reduces catalog abandonment rate by at least 35%. Since users can continue shopping without access to the internet, they get uninterrupted user experience and are more likely to proceed to the checkout page.

  • Push notifications

Push notifications is a powerful tool of mobile applications. According to research by Google, 60% of PWA’s users allow such applications to send push notifications. The number for native applications is about 30%.

You can use the whole power of push notifications by sending reminders about abandoned carts, notifying about special offers, discounts, holiday, sales, and other information to entice them to get back to your store. Magento PWA push notifications can be used as a powerful tool for user engagement and retention.

  • Security

Aside from other benefits, progressive web applications provide businesses with a high level of security. HTTPS protocol ensures data safety and protection from different types of attacks, including from man-in-the-middle and Magecart attacks. Magento PWA is also protected from precluding shopping and content tampering.

  • No compliance with app store requirements

Unlike hybrid and native applications, progressive web apps are not distributed via app stores. This significantly simplifies the app release process. With app stores, you need to comply with their requirements for your application to get listed there. You need to be compliant for as long as you want your app to stay on an app store. Still, there is always a possibility of sudden app blocking by an app store without prior notification.

PWAs don’t need to be compliant with app store requirements, as they are distributed like traditional websites, just with an ability of installation on a device.

The above-listed benefits are only a fraction of all the advantages you are going to get with Magento PWA. Now that you know the main aspects of progressive web apps, it’s time to compare it with other popular solutions.

Comparison of Progressive Web Apps vs Native vs. Hybrid vs. Website

The below comparison provides an insight into the main benefits of Magento PWA vs. other popular solutions. The comparison will help you understand all the aspects in which they differ and which one is better for eCommerce.

PWA vs Responsive website

Responsive Website vs PWA Comparison

While progressive web apps and responsive websites have a lot in common, they differ in a few key aspects. Let’s take a look at the main points that set these two types of solutions apart.

  • Native experience

Magento PWA and responsive websites all run in a browser. Still, a PWA can move beyond browsers providing customers with a native-like experience. You can configure a PWA to use the hardware of a mobile device, such as a camera, microphone, etc. This allows for the implementation of new innovative features.

  • Google ranking

Both types of solutions are ranked in Google and other search engines, making them highly discoverable. You can apply the best SEO practices to improve their ranking and place them in the first positions in search results.

While they are similar in this aspect, PWAs provide a better user experience. As you might know, with the latest updates of its search engine, Google started paying even more attention to user experience and ranks websites with great UX higher in SERP.

  • Development time

When you look at the time needed for the development of a responsive website and a Magento PWA, you won’t see any significant differences. Especially if you will use a Magento PWA storefront that allows you to add the PWA functionality to an existing store in record time.

  • Faster services

PWAs caching all the needed information and website content that allow to reduce the time until a page is interactive. By cutting the waiting time for users, PWAs automatically reduces the bounce rate.

  • Offline work

Unfortunately, responsive websites require an internet connection for operations. Progressive web apps moved a significant step forward, leaving its competitor far behind.

The above short comparison doesn’t leave any doubt that progressive web applications offer far more benefits than responsive websites in terms of provided user experience and features.

Progressive Web App vs Hybrid App

Hybrid app vs PWA Comparison

These two options have one main capability in common – they work on all devices running in Android and iOS. They are not so similar in other aspects. Just take a look at the main difference between a progressive web app and hybrid app.

  • Distribution

Hybrid applications are distributed via app stores like Google Play or the App Store by Apple. PWAs provide higher discoverability as they can be found in search results and added to a device with the “Add to Homescreen” option.

  • Customization

PWAs leave a lot of space for customization. You can easily make changes to your codebase, and changes will be applied to your eCommerce PWA.

On the other hand, hybrid applications offer limited customization. As they work on all operating systems, you cannot use all the benefits of a particular OS as other operating systems might not support the same features.

This is one of the main differences between a PWA vs hybrid app.

  • Development cost

In most cases, the development cost of a hybrid app is higher than the development cost of a progressive web application. Moreover, you can easily add PWA functionality to an existing website, speeding up the development type significantly.

  • Performance

Magento PWA is known for its performance. By caching information, it provides super-fast page loading speed. The difference between PWA and hybrid app lies in the inability of the latter to boast such advantages. Hybrid applications are known for performance issues that require a lot of tweaks and optimization to provide great speed on all devices and operating systems.

  • Offline mode

Mobile shopping requires an internet connection. While progressive web applications can be used in offline mode, eCommerce hybrid apps require an active internet connection to view products and make purchases. If an internet connection is lost, users won’t be able to continue browsing your application.

There is no doubt that PWA wins in hybrid vs. PWA comparison. They provide better user experience, faster development time, and the ability to interact with your eCommerce PWA in offline mode.

Do you want to know how Magento PWA works from a technical point of view?
Check our article Magento PWA: Features, Technical and Business Insights to discover four components of PWA architecture, what companies are already reaping the benefits of their implementation, and where to start in PWA development.

PWA vs Native App

Native app vs PWA Comparison

Progressive web applications and native apps are popular types of solutions among both aspiring and established businesses. They both provide the best user experience and differ in a few key aspects. Let’s take a look at the main differences between PWA vs native app.

  • Native experience

As mentioned above, native app vs progressive web app have one thing in common – they can be installed on mobile devices. This allows users to interact with them without opening a browser.

  • Distribution

Just like hybrid applications, native apps are distributed through app stores. If you are going to develop an app for iOS and Android, you will need to submit them to the App Store and Google Play and pass certain requirements.

On the other hand, PWAs can easily circumvent all possible problems. As they are distributed like traditional websites, you don’t have to spend time making them compliant with app stores’ requirements.

  • Development cost

In the case of native app development, you need to create two code bases for each mobile platform. After the development, you will need to maintain and support each version.

The development of progressive web apps is cheaper than the development of a native app. Even more, the time needed for development will be at least two times shorter. Therefore, PWA wins in this regard with ease.

  • Discoverability

Progressive web applications offer higher discoverability, as they can be found in search engines. The appliance of SEO practices can help increase their visibility in search results even more.

When it comes to native applications, users can find them only in app stores. Thus, it makes it challenging to attract new users. App owners can use App Search Optimization (ASO) technique to increase the discoverability of a native application in an app store.

  • Security

Magento PWA uses HTTPS by default which allows for such apps to meet the requirements by Google. When it comes to native applications, developers often overlook security measures. Still, they can provide social login and two-factor authentication to guarantee a higher level of security and user data protection.

  • Offline mode

Just like hybrid apps, native apps in eCommerce cannot provide users with offline mode. That’s why PWAs are better for this industry as customers can continue with their shopping even if the internet collection is suddenly lost.

When we compare the PWA vs Native app, the first type of solution leads the game. The provided higher discoverability, lower development price and shorter creation timeline leave the competitors far behind.

Which is the Best Solution for eCommerce?

When it comes to eCommerce, PWAs offer far superior features than all of the alternatives. Native-like user experience, high discoverability, offline mode are the benefits and reasons why companies striving for innovation choose PWA.

Let’s look at the side-by-side comparison of Magento PWA vs Responsive Website vs Native App vs Hybrid App. The table below will help you better understand the main strong sides and weaknesses of each solution.

Feature Magento PWA Responsive Website Hybrid App Native App
Multi-platform compatibility + + + -
Linkable + + - -
Search engine indexed + + - -
Offline mode + - -
(not in eCommerce)
(not in eCommerce)
Installable + - + +
Behind-the-scene updates + + - -
Push notifications + - + +
Cost and time efficient development + +/-
(not efficient if you need to develop an app also)
- -
Distribution Web Web App store App store
Mobile-first design + - + +
Require more space - - + +
Hardware-heavy - - + +
App stores’ limitations - - + +
Memory friendly + + - -
Content shareability + + - -

GoMage’s Experience in PWA Development

GoMage PWA Storefront Sneak Peeks

Magento PWA development is a very promising sphere for businesses that want to address mCommerce and aim for the highest website speed and the best user experience.

At GoMage, we look forward to the future where the adoption of PWA will be widespread and are offering Magento 2 PWA development services.

Our team of developers started educating themselves in Magento PWA development 1.5 years ago. We have hands-on experience in developing progressive web apps for clients, and will soon release our GoMage PWA storefront.

If you are not sure about the benefits of PWA adoption, just take a look at the benefits that you can get with it:

  • x2 increase in traffic
  • x3 increase in conversion rate
  • 48% decrease in bounce rate
  • 250% more leads
  • top ranking in Google SERP for key requests

Do you want to enhance your eCommerce website with Magento PWA?
Get initial free consultation and estimation regarding your project. Our experts will help you decide on the best course of action.
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The Benefits of PWA for Big Business

Magento PWA Development: Final Notes

Progressive web applications is a trend that is steadily gaining traction. With the growth of mCommerce, the need for mobile presence will only grow. Moreover, with the latest Google search engine updates, websites with the great user experience across devices are ranking higher in search results.

As you can clearly see from the comparison of pwa vs hybrid vs native vs responsive website, progressive web apps win the landscape with flying colors.

PWA offers a lot of opportunities for business growth and offers the following benefits:

  • faster development time
  • lower development cost
  • increase in mobile conversion rate
  • improved page loading speed
  • reduction in bounce rate
  • powerful push notifications
  • access to a target audience across all devices and platforms

You need to consider Magento PWA if:

  • you want to improve brand awareness and SEO
  • you have customers making purchases from mobile devices
  • you need to improve website speed and overall performance
  • you want to provide customers with seamless UX across all devices.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Progressive Web Apps better than native?

Progressive web apps (or PWAs) are better than native apps due to owning characteristics of traditional websites. Meaning, they are SEO-friendly and can be shared across the internet as a simple website link. Also, PWAs are more lightweight and you don’t have to download them. You can add a PWA to the home screen with a single click of the button and right from the browser. Last but not least, PWAs are much cheaper to develop, as opposed to native mobile apps.

Is PWA better than native apps?

PWAs are cheaper, more SEO-friendly and lightweight. It may be a good alternative to native apps if you own an eCommerce store since PWAs kill two birds with one stone: provide the user experience of a native app as well as boast the functionality of a website.

What is difference between Web App and Progressive Web App?

Web app is a traditional website everyone is used to seeing in the browser. Progressive Web App is also a website but with the look and feel of a native mobile app. Generally speaking, the better user experience and the add-to-home-screen functionality separates web applications from PWAs.

Will PWA replace native apps?

The hype around PWAs is clear. The new headless technology makes it a compelling solution due to the SEO features of a traditional website as well as lower development costs. However, nobody knows for sure that PWAs will replace native mobile apps in the future.

Should I build a PWA?

It depends. If you already have a fully-fledged mobile app that drives great results for your business, there is no need to build a PWA. However, if you don’t have a mobile app, building a PWA is certainly worth your consideration.

Progressive Web App (PWA) VS Native App - Why PWAs Win

The main benefits of PWAs over native apps include a lower cost of development, SEO-friendly features and the add-to-home-screen functionality. You can add a PWA straight from the browser and without going through third-party services like App Store and Google Play.

What is PWA development?

PWA development incorporates rendering HTTPS files in a browser. No need to develop a separate app both for iOS and Android devices. PWAs can be integrated with any CMS system through an API so the frontentend stays independent of the backend.

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