We’ve all been frustrated by sluggish website. I’ve often pressed the “back” button on a slow web page, and research indicates that I’m not alone. A study by the Aberdeen Group found “a one-second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.”
Load time matters even more on mobile devices. Cellular networks still aren’t as fast as traditional Internet connections, which means mobile users are even more sensitive to speed. Web traffic from phones and tablets continues to climb, and we’re all getting more accustomed to completing routine tasks on our mobile devices. From hailing a ride to paying for groceries, our phones are increasingly at the center of our digital universe.
A coalition of Internet companies (including Google and Facebook) have rolled out new technologies and tools to make the mobile web a faster, more efficient place. These new tools include accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) and progressive web apps—both technologies have the potential to help education programs and institutions optimize their click-through and conversion rates.
Early adopters of AMPs include media companies like Wired and The Washington Post and the results are promising: The Washington Post saw an 88% improvement in load times for AMP content over traditional mobile content. This speed increase doesn’t just save time for web users, it also reduces the site’s mobile bounce rate, keeping mobile users on the site longer.
One step beyond AMPs are progressive web apps—a new way to deliver quality mobile experiences over the web. Part website, part traditional mobile app, progressive web apps are a fast, reliable hybrid of these two traditional experiences. Progressive web apps are installable—they live on the home screen of a user’s phone or tablet. Instead of requiring an app store for installation, they can be downloaded directly from a website.
From a technology standpoint, progressive web apps run like a web browser. From the user’s perspective, they work like other traditional apps: they display in full screen mode (instead of loading in a browser window), and they can send users push notifications.
Higher education institutions may wish to consider building progressive web apps to streamline some of their complicated, multi-step admission processes. For example, a progressive web app that helps users register for a campus visit and then sends push notifications to remind students and families about their upcoming trip (and where they need to go on campus for their info session and tour) could simplify the visit process. Since campus visits are often a key inflection point in a prospective student’s decision process, providing a straightforward, speedy way to register and attend information sessions could have a real impact on enrollment goals.
Progressive web apps may also be useful for enrollment-related activities after a student is admitted. Apps that send push notifications and remind students to complete their registration and enrollment tasks could reduce summer melt and simplify the daunting task of transitioning from an applicant into a full-time student.
Data from Google suggests that users are five times more likely to leave your site if it loads slowly. Accelerated mobile pages and progressive web apps are two new tools that will help you provide a better experience to your mobile users and simultaneously increase the chances of conversion. Both of these technologies also capitalize on an important reality: most students prefer their phone as their primary communication device.
Interested in more information on web best practices for education? Contact us to keep the conversation going.