Jonathan Bennett

Getting PWA Installs


Getting installs of PWAs is not easy today, but it is possible! In some ways, its even easier than a native app. People are just not familiar with it.

In case you are unfamiliar with PWA installs, this is a system supported by all modern browsers to add a website to your device’s Home Screen or and, and let’s the user launch it just like a normal app.

The two big reasons you want your users to install your app are that it:

  1. Gives the user easy access to the app
  2. Gives you additional access to features (like push notifications)

Your Three Strategies

There are three strategies for getting more installs for your PWA:

  1. educate
  2. prompt
  3. native (experimental) prompt


Educating the user about the option to install is the most effective strategy I’ve found. As part of my onboarding sequences I include several prominent calls for them to do the install. I’ve also created landing pages with platform and brand specific directions as needed.

These instructions are equally focused on what you want them to do and the benefit they get from doing it.

As people encounter more PWAs and install them, I think this hurdle will become smaller and smaller. This is not a difficulty issue, but a familiarity issue.


Detecting if a supported device is not in PWA mode is very straightforward. When in non-PWA I recommend displaying a banner linking to instructions for installing. If the banner is dismissed, I would prompt again in the future. This would typically be after a time period or the completion of a milestone in the activation process.

One thing to note: I try and make this look very similar to the native App install prompt that the OS provides. Why bother reinventing the wheel!

Native Prompt

Now we are cooking with fire! On Android with Chrome, there is an experimental feature that gives us native like install prompts.

This is managed by the browser and OS such that when it is available, an event is fired, which we can optionally use to trigger the install prompt.

What’s I think best about native install prompts are that they are actually easier for the user than even an native app! We still need people to do it a few times so that they are used to it, but we are almost there.

So there you have it, three strategies to get more installs of your PWA that work today. All it requires of you is a little elbow grease.