A Beginners Guide to Understanding Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

auto_awesome Development • August 23, 2021
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Let’s face it – today’s technology is almost impossible to catch up with. 

From artificial intelligence to the internet of things, to machine learning and everything in between – the tech industry is ever changing, and businesses are constantly looking for the next big thing that can generate more revenue and improve customer experience at lower development cost. 

With over 4.3 billion mobile device users in the world, it’s a huge challenge for businesses to balance costs while maintaining their web presence on different platforms (website, android, ios). Enter Progressive Web Apps (PWA) – a relatively new technology that is revolutionizing the way people interact with websites.​ 

From push notifications to offline usability and access to device hardware – PWA can be used to do almost everything that were previously only possible on native apps.​​​

Let’s discuss in detail about progressive web apps, its features,benefits and more in this blog post.​​

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWA)?

In layman terms, progressive web apps are websites with native app-like features.

A more technical explanation would be – Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are light-weight web applications that are created using common web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript with an incorporation of certain concepts to make it more feature-rich like a native mobile app (push notifications, offline updates, camera/microphone access, location access etc). These apps are a hybrid between normal web pages and mobile applications

What are the main features of a PWA?

  • App-like — They behave as if they were native apps, in terms of user interaction and navigation but do not require any download from the ios or play stores.
  • Progressive — PWAs are built with browser compatibility in mind. They work for every user, on every browser – even the ones that don’t support progressive improvement principles.
  • Responsive — Desktop, mobile, tablet, or dimensions  – they adapt to the screen sizes of all devices.
  • Updated — PWA uses service workers which are programmable network proxies that let developers control how network requests for a page are handled so that all information is updated on the website irrespective of the network.
  • Secure — PWA websites are safe as they are built to use https to transmit information.
  • Searchable — They are indexed by search engines and optimizing your PWA is just like you’d do on a website. 
  • Reactivable — With capabilities such as web notifications, PWAs are easy to reactivate.
  • Installable — Users can “bookmark or save” the apps on the home screen. 
  • Linkable — Need we say more? Having a PWA website allows user sharing.
  • Offline — It doesn’t matter if your user has weak or no connection, some elements of PWAs can be programmed to still work for the user.

How can progressive web apps help businesses?

There is more than one reason for businesses to embrace progressive web apps. From a business point, some of the benefits of using PWAs are:

  • Faster page load speeds
  • Higher conversion rates
  • More user engagement
  • Lesser development and maintenance costs than native apps
  • Increased organic search traffic
  • Google endorses PWA with mobile-first indexing

From an end-user standpoint:

  • PWAs are much faster
  • Browsing when offline is possible
  • Less data consumption
  • Can save the website as an icon on your mobile phone’s home screen

Are there any drawbacks of going the PWA route?

One major drawback is PWAs are supported in iOS only from version 11.3 and onwards. Also when compared to native apps, PWAs consume more battery. 

What are the most used technologies for PWA?

Progressive Web Apps are built using HTML, CSS and JavaScript with different characteristics . Some of the main characteristics are:

  • React – React is a powerful JavaScript library that is used for building dynamic and modern user interfaces.
  • Polymer – Polymer is a combination of tools, components and models that are specifically designed to create PWA.
  • Angular – Angular is a vast JavaScript framework that is used specifically to create dynamic web applications with HTML as the template language.
  • Ionic – This JavaScript framework is used for creating applications that run on multiple platforms with a basic code.
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – AMP is an open source project to improve the performance of web pages and make it more mobile-friendly.

How to decide if you need a PWA or a Native app?  

While it’s perfectly okay to be curious about a trending technology, when it comes to finding the right solution for your project, you need a strong development  team that can tell you what technology solutions and framework you need to adopt to reach your business goals. Here are some questions to ask yourself to know if you need to adopt PWA:

  • Do you need an app that must be easily distributed to several users across platforms?
  • Are you time-crunched? Do you need to go live in a short span?
  • Do you prefer to keep everything simple on a website? 
  • Does your website need to rank on search engines?
  • Are you looking for a low budget solution?
  • Do you want to reduce future development and maintenance costs at minimum?

If you’ve answered yes to all these questions, adopting PWA is a viable option for you.  

A native app is still the right way to go in the following cases:

  • Your business model is based on cost per download and / or IAP (In App Purchase)
  • You need to use more hardware features of the mobile device
  • You need to  integrate the app with other third-party apps

Final words

Want to become an early adopter of progressive web apps? Looking for a reliable development team to help you go live without hassle?  Contact  our experts at SolutionChamps to discuss your project idea and we’ll be happy to provide a quote.