PWA vs AMP – What is faster and better for SEO – Comparison

When you look around a subway station during rush hours, what do you see? Likely, a crowd of commuting people keeping themselves busy with a smartphone at hand. Actually, it’s quite possible you’ll see more people chatting or scrolling through a website or a favorite app than those who aren’t!

  • What AMP exactly is and what are its main benefits?
  • We are introducing you to what PWA is and its benefits. 
  • PWA and AMP comparison in case of performance, interactivity, accessibility and use cases

From a business perspective, this ubiquity of personal tech means one thing:

If you’re going to have an online mobile presence, it better be a GREAT one.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone needs to develop a native mobile app. There are ways of providing a smooth, interactive user experience on a website by using the right web development method.

Here’s where two opensource technologies – AMP and PWA – come into play. Let’s take a look at each and see which option might be better suiting for your needs.

What is AMP?

AMP (short for Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an opensource technology developed by Google back in 2015 as a solution for instantaneous webpage loading. As described by Branch.io, “at its core, the framework allows you to build lightweight experiences for mobile by simplifying the HTML and following streamlined CSS rules”. 

From a technical standpoint, the framework is constructed from three parts – AMP HTML, AMP JS, and AMP CDN, which you can read more about here.

Before AMPs were introduced, many mobile webpages struggled with significant bounce rates due to users leaving a site before it even had the chance to load.

Now, as 53% of users drop off if a page doesn’t load within 3 seconds, the framework came as a true lifesaver – especially for businesses, which heavily relied on revenue from on-site ads.

AMP does exceptionally well as static content pages, making it a popular framework among top media outlets online. As a matter of fact, it’s very likely that your favorite online news site also relies on this technology!

The top benefits of AMPs worth mentioning here include:

  • Improved UX thanks to lightning-speed loading of websites (Google caches the URL)
  • A rise in ad revenue (more users stay and interact with the site’s content)
  • Lowered bounce rates 
  • Quick loading time supports SEO of the page.

What is PWA?

The term PWA (short for Progressive Web Apps) was coined by Google Chrome engineer Alex Russel and designer Frances Berriman roughly around the same time Google announced AMP. To put it in the most simple terms, PWAs offer website visitors a user experience and a level of interactivity closely resemblant to native mobile apps. 

PWAs are comprised of several key components, such as service workers, Transport Layer Security (https), and App Shell architecture.

While AMPs are often used to create robust static sites, PWAs are often the technology of choice for those looking to build interactive mobile app-like platforms. What’s more, PWAs can also be embedded in the smartphone’s menu – just like a mobile app normally would upon download.

PWAs are especially lauded for:

  • App-like feeling and robust UX of the site
  • Working offline
  • High interactivity, which promotes user engagement and dwells time on the site
  • The ability to be pinned to the smartphone’s menu, just like a mobile app (prompting users on a website to download a native app usually results in a 20% user dropoff).

So much for a brief introduction.

Now, how do the frameworks compare in key areas such as performance or accessibility? Let’s dive into the subject in the PWA vs AMP breakdown below.

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PWA vs AMP – comparison

Performance

AMP: AMPs cache URLs, which means webpages load super fast each time you visit them – even the first time around. This makes AMPs great for sharing online, especially on social media. Just think of the benefits of running a blog or media outlet that loads content instantaneously!

PWA: unlike AMPs, PWAs load longer when you first access them. However, they load equally fast when you return to the site in the future. This is because PWAs are built to cache data in the background as you interact with a site – not upfront. 

Interactivity

AMP: AMPs don’t offer the extensive interactivity options PWAs are famous for. 

PWA: PWAs have unbeatable interaction capabilities, some of which you’d normally expect only of native mobile apps. These include features such as push notifications and a home screen icon.

Accessibility

AMP: Needs an Internet connection to load; it opens only in the web browser.

PWA: PWAs load without an online connection thanks to cached data. It can be accessed directly from the smartphone menu.

Recommended industries/use cases

AMP: Media companies, blog sites, businesses where online ads are an important source of revenue.

PWA: Due to its versatility and powerful features, there’s no clear industry division. However, it will benefit especially those who wish to create complex, interactive platforms (for instance, e-commerce companies).

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Final thoughts

While both frameworks have gone a long way since 2015 and are continuously updated to suit modern-day requirements, here’s what we suggest be the main takeaway:

If you’re a company that puts interactivity and versatility first, you will love what PWA brings to the table.

However, if AMP feels like more than enough for where you are now, don’t worry that it will be a blind alley once you scale up! If you ever decide to transition to a PWA, you won’t need to build it from scratch.

It’s important to note that there are several ways of preloading your PWA with AMP-derived data or even embracing a mixed AMP PWA approach (which is a topic for a whole different post). If you’re curious to know how PWA-AMP transitioning works, we recommend you take a look at the excellent guide available on the official AMP site.

We hope that we were able to shed light on both frameworks and help you make an informed decision. We’d love to hear from you in the comments if you have any questions or would like to learn more about the concept

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