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What Is a Progressive Web App? Pros & Cons of PWA

Web Application Development
What is a Progressive Web App - definition and meaning

Several years ago, Google introduced a new technology to the world – progressive web apps (PWAs). Very few people took them seriously then, as the market always needs time to size up innovations. Today, PWAs are becoming a popular trend that more and more developers are paying attention to.

What is a Progressive Web App? It is a special class of web apps that allow the user to interact with the site in the same way as with a mobile app.

A PWA can be considered as a site that has native app functionality (push notifications, GPS navigation, and other similar functions). It can be installed on the home screen directly from the browser and even work offline.

  • The average bounce rate of a PWA is 42.86 percent lower than a similar mobile website (Google’s research).
  • Progressive web apps register 50 percent more customer engagement (Smashing Ideas).
  • According to various PWA statistics and studies, progressive web apps require 33 percent less maintenance compared to their native counterpart.
Progressive web app in ecommerce statistics

Share of e-commerce companies planning on investing in progressive web apps (PWA) in North America and Europe in 2021 (by Statista).

What are the main differences between a PWA and a mobile app?

A PWA is an app based on a website, so they have the same content management system. This makes it easier to manage the application’s content. A native mobile app is often not linked to a website, so it must be managed separately.

Here are several other distinctions:

  • You don’t have to install and update it like the native app. The user can add an icon to their home screen and use it without having to spend time searching and downloading from the app store.
  • Since a PWA application is actually a wrapper site, it can be indexed by search engines.
  • The PWA application is created based on a website, which can have a CMS. This makes it easier to manage the app’s content. With a mobile app, you have to manage the content separately.
  • To summarize, a PWA app is a hybrid of a regular mobile app and a website. It has something in common with both.
The Differences Between Web App, Mobile App, and PWA
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Top Powerful Technologies for creating PWAs: Polymer, AngularJS, VueJS, React, Ionic.

Examples of Progressive Web Apps

How to install a PWA on iOS or Android device? Just watch this video:

That’s it: you can now use it like a regular app on your smartphone.

Some recommendations for their creation are similar to those for the development of mobile apps. For example, you have to create an appealing icon, because launching the site will be done from the home screen.

Let’s talk about the main pros and cons of progressive web apps.

Advantages of Progressive Web Apps

✓ PWAs look the same as native apps of a particular operating system. This corresponds to user-friendly methods of interaction and navigation.

✓ One of the advantages of a PWA is that it doesn’t need to be recreated for each mobile OS. Consequently, it is many times cheaper to develop than a mobile app.

✓ A PWA allows for using device functions like geolocation and the microphone or camera.

✓ Progressive web application development and support is cheaper than mobile application development by 70-90 percent on average.

✓ A PWA can be launched quickly, unlike native applications.

✓ There is no need to post the application to the Apple Store or Google Play, it is installed from the browser, which saves on publishing costs.

✓ The PWA app runs faster than the website and does not require a constant internet connection (subject to caching).

✓ A PWA is lighter than a mobile app — only a few dozen kilobytes. This means the user doesn’t have to worry about installing it if the phone is low on space.

✓ A PWA does not require updates, users always see the actual content.

Progressive web apps benefits for user and businesses

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Disadvantages of progressive web apps

✓ At the moment, there are problems with support for some PWA features on iOS devices. For example, it is impossible to send push notifications, although this is not a problem on Android.

✓ There are other limitations in working with hardware. For example, PWAs cannot work with the fingerprint scanner, proximity sensors and have only a limited ability to work with Bluetooth.

✓ More intense battery use.

✓ If the user has not accessed the PWA site for a long time (several weeks), the cached files will be deleted. Only the application icon will remain on the home screen.

✓ You can only add the PWA application icon to the home screen manually through the device settings.

What problems are solved by Progressive Web Applications and when you should use one?

Developers definitely benefit from it (by having a single technological base), and so do users (by having easy, fast, functional apps). Anyone who owns a website or a web app might be interested in creating PWAs, since they can increase audience coverage, conversion rate, and user-friendly experience with resources for mobile devices owners.

With a progressive web app, you can solve many problems for your business:

  1. The user gets up-to-date information about the company’s products or services in one tap from the phone’s home screen.
  2. The company becomes more memorable thanks to the icon that’s constantly in the user’s sight.

First and foremost, progressive web apps are suitable for companies whose services are used frequently or with a certain frequency, e.g., once a month. For example, such a tool will be useful for a food delivery service, a beauty salon, a cleaning company, or an online store. Also, a PWA would be a good choice for online media.

For many businesses, a PWA can be a good alternative to a mobile app. The site gets the perks and benefits of an app, and the user experience and engagement are enhanced.

Making a progressive web app can be relatively easy, fast, and inexpensive. If you need such a product for your business, contact us and we can help you with it.

March 31, 2022

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