Once upon a time I spent way too much time and money creating an app version of one of my niche sites. It turned out to be a waste of time. I should have known better too. People only download apps when they are certain they’re going to use them over and over. That’s not the case with your run-of-the-mill niche sites.
What I learned through that process is that I love how niche sites perform and display in an app environment. Users can zip around the site wicked fast by swiping from post to post.
Back then it occurred to me that it would be really cool if the mobile version of my websites could function more like apps.
That was some decent forward-thinking on my part. I’m no futurist, but that wish was a good one. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only person who thought that app-style websites would be fantastic for mobile version of websites.
Several outfits have fired up their coding departments and have since developed what are called Progressive Web Apps (PWAs).
Table of Contents
- How I discovered PWAs by accident
- What is a progressive web app?
- How PWAs helped my niche sites (screenshots)
- 3 of the Best Progressive App Platforms for Getting Your Mobile Site as a PWA
- How long does it take to get your site on PWA technology?
- Can PWA technology work on WordPress websites?
- Why don’t I put fatstacksblog.com on a PWA?
How I discovered PWAs by accident
About 10 months ago I was lounging on my sofa browsing the web on my phone when I noticed that the site I was on made it possible so that I could swipe left and right to other posts. The site loaded super fast. The navigation was awesome. The entire user experience was unlike anything I had on a website. It functioned like a well-planned app, but was on the Web.
Fortunately, there was a “Powered by” badge at the bottom so I was able to figure out which platform created that awesome user experience.
I contacted the platform and within a few weeks I too had one of my niche sites running on a PWA for mobile. It was awesome. I should say it is awesome because I’m still using it. In fact, I’m now running PWA technology on two of my niche sites.
As an aside, it goes to show you how you can discover some great things for your blogging business just by surfing the web as a regular customer. Of course the downside is I never take my blogger hat off when surfing… I almost always visit sites with a critical and analytical eye.
What is a progressive web app?
A progressive web app is a website platform that gives the mobile version of your website app-like functionality. Usually the PWA platform will have a fully designed platform so your site will display and function according to the PWA design. Features include:
- Right and left swiping from post-to-post. This is just awesome because visitors can rip through a bunch of content so they stay on your site longer.
- Faster loading times.
- Custom ad configuration (this is very cool, but depends on the PWA platform).
- Designed for great UX, page views and time-on-site: These are the key benefits and I’ve noticed improvements for all of them on my sites.
- Better design: Each PWA comes up with its own designs and templates. The platform I use has a featured image, great menu system and plenty of related posts at the bottom. It also, of course, offers swiping left and right to previous and next posts.
How PWAs helped my niche sites (screenshots)
Here are the major benefits I experienced from moving the mobile version of my sites to a PWA.
More page views per visitor
3 of the Best Progressive App Platforms for Getting Your Mobile Site as a PWA
PWA technology is fairly new. I’ve been watching the industry for some time and there are still surprisingly few options. I’m surprised there aren’t more platforms. I’m also surprised not more website publishers are putting their mobile sites on PWA technology.
I’ve discovered and had conversations with 3 PWA platforms. I use one of them. Here they are.
Ezoic offers all kinds of technologies for website publishers including a progressive web app module. Once your website is set up on the Ezoic platform, you simply ask to get a PWA version of your site on mobile and it happens. It may take a few weeks, but then it’ll take several weeks with the other two options below.
The best part with the Ezoic PWA is you don’t have to have a minimum number of monthly page views (unlike the other two options below). Also with Ezoic, which is also a display ad split testing platform, you can test different ads in different locations within the PWA to find out which configuration earns the most.
Mobeemi is the PWA platform I use.
Mobeemi has minimum number of monthly visitors threshold. It’s over 100,000, but varies a bit depending on your site. The reason they have a threshold is their fee is 20% of the ad revenue the PWA earns and that means in order to make any decent money, they only take on sites with decent traffic.
Mobeemi’s PWA has a great design to it. The sites load fast. The PWA programs ad placement but you can also suggest placements.
Mobeemi uses AdSense ads only. You can show non-AdSense ads, but you will need to agree to include some AdSense ads because otherwise they don’t make money.
Finally, their customer service is outstanding. No contract is needed either. All-in-all I’m very happy with Mobeemi.
Marfeel is the biggest PWA player as far as I can tell. They require hundreds of thousands of monthly mobile visitors to qualify. Again, the exact threshold will depend on your site. You’ll need to submit your site for review by them before they agree to take your site on.
Marfeel is the PWA for several major brand name sites. I’ve checked them out and it’s definitely a good platform.
While I do qualify for Marfeel (was accepted), I’m sticking with Mobeemi because I’ve done really well with them.
One thing Marfeel does that’s different than Mobeemi is it has its own ads via relationships. I’m sure they include AdSense ads, but it’s not AdSense ads exclusively.
Finally, as far as I know there’s no contract needed, but that’s something you should ask if you talk to Marfeel just to confirm.
How long does it take to get your site on PWA technology?
Don’t expect any of the above 3 platforms to make it happen overnight.
The onboarding process is fairly involved. I believe it took Mobeemi a few weeks to get my site live. Marfeel quoted me an even longer timeline. I know Ezoic also has an onboarding process. The point is you’ll need to be patient, which means now is a good time to get the ball rolling. Had I let a 3 week onboarding timeline influence my decision, I would have missed out on some really good mobile website performance improvements.
Can PWA technology work on WordPress websites?
Yes, it can. All my sites are built on WordPress.
The bigger question is whether PWA technology works on non-WordPress websites. Mobeemi’s does, but I’m not sure about Ezoic or Marfeel. You’d need to ask them if you don’t use WordPress.
Why don’t I put fatstacksblog.com on a PWA?
I would, but the platforms require displaying ads. That’s how they make money – they do an ad revenue share with the publisher. Since I don’t care to have ads on fatstacksblog.com, I’m not moving to PWA technology for now.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.