Table of contents
What is a progressive web app (PWA)?
A progressive web app (PWA) combines the benefits of websites and mobile apps to deliver app-like user experiences on the web. Crucially, PWAs don't require installation from mobile app stores, making them accessible on any device with a web browser.
As a result of fast loading speeds, push notifications and offline access, companies with PWAs can increase their revenue and enhance customer loyalty.
Benefits of PWAs
There are many benefits to using progressive web applications for your business. Some of them are 👇
1 - Cross-platform compatibility
PWAs work on various platforms and mobile devices, including smartphones and desktops. PWAs are compatible with the user’s device and perform consistently, saving you the hassle of developing separate apps for different platforms.
2 - Offline capabilities
With PWAs, your mobile users can access content and features even when offline. This advantage is particularly beneficial when they're in areas with poor internet connections. Offline access ensures your users can continue using the app or viewing information without interruption.
3 - Instant loading
PWAs load quickly, offering a near-instant user experience. They use service workers to cache resources, allowing your users to open the app and access content without frustrating delays. This speed enhances your overall user satisfaction and reduces bounce rates.
4 - Responsive design
PWAs adapt to your user’s device's screen size and orientation, ensuring a seamless and responsive user experience. This means your users don't need to worry about zooming in and out or dealing with awkward layouts – the app adjusts itself to fit your screen perfectly.
5 - Push notifications
PWAs offer push notifications, which keep your customers informed about updates and limited-time offers even when they're not actively using the app. This feature is valuable for keeping your users connected and engaged with your content or service, while also helping you to improve your conversion rates.
6 - Automatic updates
PWAs automatically update in the background, ensuring you always have the latest features, security patches, and improvements without any manual intervention. This convenience saves you the trouble of manually maintaining your app.
7 - Lower development costs
Building PWAs is cost-effective when compared to native apps. It benefits your business to invest in improving its web presence. This essentially means you can allocate more resources to enhance your business’s online experience.
Comparing PWAs with native apps, web apps and websites
Progressive web apps
Installation and accessibility
Can be installed on the device
Installed via app stores
Only accessible by browser
Only accessible by browser
Offers good performance but depends on the app’s complexity
Provides high performance
Performance varies with browsers and devices
Performance varies with browsers and devices
Via app store
Made directly to web server
Access to device features
Access to some device features
Access to all device features
Limited access through web APIs
Very limited access to device features
Distribution and discovery
Search engines and app stores
App stores only
Java (Android), Swift (iOS)
Progressive web apps (PWAs), native apps, web apps and websites each have their own set of characteristics. To choose between them, it's important for you to understand their differences in order to make informed choices based on your specific needs and preferences 👇
1 - Installation and accessibility
- PWAs - you can access PWAs directly through a web browser, either bookmarking them and adding them to your home screen or by downloading them through a direct link.
- Native apps - they require you to download and install them from a mobile app store; this can consume time and storage, and some apps might not be available on all platforms
- Web apps - you can access them directly through a web browser without the need for installation
- Website - like web apps, these too can be accessed directly through a web browser without the need for installation
2 - Platform compatibility
- PWAs - they’re compatible with multiple platforms, including iOS, Android and desktop devices; this cross-platform nature ensures that you can use them on various devices without any compatibility issues
- Native apps - they’re platform-specific, meaning an app built for iOS won't work on Android and vice versa; this can be limiting, especially if you switch between different devices
- Web apps - they provide cross-platform experiences and are accessible on different devices and operating systems
- Websites - they provide cross-platform experiences and are accessible on different devices and operating systems
3 - Performance
- PWAs - they provide a good level of performance, but it can vary depending on the complexity of the app and the capabilities of your device
- Native apps - they’re optimised for specific platforms, offering superior performance and utilising device-specific features to their fullest; they’re faster and more fluid than PWAs, web apps and websites.
- Web apps - the performance of web applications varies with browsers and devices
- Website - the performance of web applications varies with browsers and devices
4 - Updates
- PWAs - update automatically in the background, ensuring you always have the latest version without user intervention; this is convenient and keeps you up-to-date with improvements and security patches
- Native apps - sometimes require manual updates from app stores; your users may need to check for updates to benefit from bug fixes and new features
- Web apps - update automatically in the background, ensuring you always have the latest version without user intervention; this is convenient and keeps you up-to-date with improvements and security patches
- Websites - update manually directly via the web server; users will automatically be served the most up-to-date version of your site
Learn more about the differences between web apps vs websites 👈
5 - Access to device features
- PWAs - access to some device features like cameras and other sensors, although they don’t match the capabilities of native apps
- Native apps - extensive access to device hardware and can make full use of features like GPS, cameras and microphones, making them ideal for applications that need these functionalities
- Web apps - limited access to device features through web APIs
- Websites - very limited access to device features
6 - Distribution and discovery
- PWAs - discoverable through app stores as well as search engines and can be easily shared via web links, making them accessible to a wide audience
- Native apps - distributed through app stores, which means they undergo a review process; while this ensures a certain level of quality, it can also lead to slight delays in updates and deployments.
- Web apps - discoverable through search engines and can be easily shared via web links, making them accessible to a wide audience; they don't require approval from app stores
- Websites - discoverable through search engines and can be easily shared via web links, making them accessible to a wide audience; they don't require approval from app stores
7 - Development language
- Native apps - developed using platform-specific languages like Java for Android and Swift for iOS.
You now understand why people are so excited about PWAs. Today, they’re proving their mettle and have become a fantastic option if you want to take your business online.
What’s more? You can build PWAs without writing any code or having any idea of how to build one. Hit the link above to learn how ☝️