How news apps and magazines like Forbes are leveraging the PWA experience for their users

By: Vishal Gelani, Sep 3rd, 2019 # PWA

news apps utilizing pwa

The benefits of Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) are now well-known. How it increases engagement and conversion. Or how it blazing fast, device-agnostic, reliable, and countless other benefits.

If you want to talk numbers and benefits, head to the PWAStats.com website that has all the customer success stories that include details on conversion rate, revenue and optimization.

One recent example that is worth noting is that of Forbes.

As you probably know, Forbes is a well-known American business magazine portal that features articles and news on technology, finance, marketing, investment and other business-relevant topics.

User engagement on entertainment and news websites relies heavily on page load speed and the ability to interact quickly with the interface.

Yet, the impact of the web on newsrooms has been significant. Content is driven and directed by the reader. They need to be served the content they want and rather quickly.

For users of a business magazine, it is imperative that the content is available on the go, on a variety of devices and often with intermittent internet access.

What happens when such users experience slow loading websites and poor engagement on their mobile phones? As you can imagine, they move on to the next available source for the content they are searching for.

Forbes was facing many issues with their mobile site and decided to rebrand their mobile experience as a PWA.

A solution that was faster than the previous mobile site. In fact, the home page of the Forbes PWA website launches only in 0.8 seconds. Compare this to the average mobile landing page load speed of 22 seconds and you realise the impact. The design that has a new format bases their card stories inspired from the layout of Snapchat Stories feature.

AMP coupled with PWA

But Forbes did it cleverly. They not only launched a PWA, but they also adopted Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Both technologies by Google and both highly recommended by Google engineers for optimal mobile experiences.

Using this potent combination, Forbes could deliver the content its readers wanted faster. One big advantage of going the PWA way is the ability to deliver visuals faster.

Visuals are key to user engagement. When you can deliver content and visuals faster, your readers stay longer. As a result, they view more ads.

PWA makes Personalization possible, which is key to customer experience.

Forbes PWA: How it made the most of technology

Once the PWA is stored on the reader’s smartphone home screen, the user can store interesting topics in the PWA.

With the help of push notifications, the app can inform you when there is news from a category you prefer. This way a reader is not overwhelmed by a lot of information but selective news stories that are relevant and personalized.

PWA - the promise of reliability

Why is reliability important to a news publishing website?

One major feature in PWAs is that there is absolutely no down-time. If the network is flaky, or there is no connection, a reader can still access the PWA in offline mode. Once the content is downloaded on the device’s home screen, the user can access it whenever they like.

This allows the users to use the app more often, even when there is no internet. Reliability and accessibility allowed Forbes to monetize better on their platform.

Execution challenges

Since a PWA looks and works much differently than a traditional mobile site, the process of implementation is more challenging and can lead to an internal organizational clash.

Forbes needed to bring major culture and process change through a number of departments, not just technical teams to make it happen. To design and launch the PWA for example, they adopted the DevOps practice of continuous deployment.

Continuous deployment is an Agile approach to development that allows organizations to release new features and updates in a continuous, non-stop fashion. This is unlike the Waterfall approach of releasing a new product where the process can take months or even years.

So Forbes pushed out small but critical changes in real time as their developers continued work on the PWA. This involved stakeholder buy-in and a major cultural and process change.

They had the challenge of launching a new mobile experience in a short period of time without disrupting their ad-supported platform. Needless to say, it was done with the utmost discipline and perfectionism.

The results are there for everyone to witness. 20% increase in impressions per page, a 12% increase in the number of users and 6x increase in readers that complete reading the articles.  Being faster, more reliable and more engaging has a direct impact on revenue.

Here were some of the other benefits of launching a PWA:

  • 43 % more sessions per user
  • Ad viewability up by 20 %
  • 100 % user engagement in the PWA
  • 3x increase in scroll depth
  • Highly visual content
  • Push notifications 
  • New story format called cards where users can swipe through the content they like
  • Forbes cut down the average size of its web pages from 2MB to 30KB

Flipboard is another example of a news app that was relaunched as a PWA and reaped the benefits of this new, progressive web technology.

Also worth noting is that BBC news has recently launched a new PWA for their Worklife section with the promise of mobile-first design elements, faster loading times, offline reading capability, improved ad layout and more features.  This new PWA is sponsored by Merrill.

If you have a news magazine or a similar application and are wondering how to go about this, Google has laid out this information in a challenge here.

PWA transforming the News Industry

After reading this post, you must be thinking that progressive web apps might be the resolution for Media and Entertainment Industry (News & Magazine Publishers). So you are absolutely correct, and many big leaders have already adopted this technology and transformed the overall business (Mobile Engagement & UX).

So we have written a precise post on 'How PWA is revolutionizing the News Industry'. Please do read that and let us know your thoughts in the below comment section.