What is a progressive web app? PWA explained

What is a progressive web app? PWA explained
AutorIlona LeoniewskaLuty, 2022

Developing applications that are available on multiple platforms simultaneously is sometimes necessary from a business point of view. Availability on multiple platforms means a larger number of users, and thus a better field for achieving goals. Is PWA the answer to the need of making applications available to a wide group of users? What is the cost of creating a web application? Does PWA have real advantages over native applications? We explain.

What is a Progressive Web App? In simple terms, it is an application that is written using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript languages that can be understood by any web browser and on any platform.

PWA characteristics

In the context of PWA, several key characteristics of the technology are discussed.

  • Discoverable — the app can be easily searched in web browsers and app stores.
  • Installable - The application can be installed on both desktop and mobile devices.
  • Re-engagable - PWA can send push notifications even when it is not active. In this way, it encourages the user to restart it.
  • Network-independent—the user does not need an internet connection to use the application.
  • Progressive—the interface adapts to changing screen sizes and input methods, or application operating methods.
  • Shareable - The application can be shared with users using a standard link.

These features make PWAs increasingly popular. Moreover, as the example of Tinder shows, providing basic functions through a web application can allow the reduction of the required storage space by 90% compared to the native application. What other benefits does a PWA offer?

Source: https://medium.com/@addyosmani/a-tinder-progressive-web-app-performance-case-study-78919d98ece0

The Starbucks PWA application is a perfect example. Thanks to this technology, the application size was reduced from 148MB to 233KB, i.e. by 99.84%!

However, does PWA bring benefits only in the context of smaller space required to use the application? With the answer comes the example of Pinterest, which thanks to the web application, increased the engagement of its portal users.

Source: https://medium.com/dev-channel/a-pinterest-progressive-web-app-performance-case-study-3bd6ed2e6154

Importantly, the PWA reduced the Pinterest page load time from 23 seconds to 5.6 seconds!

This also reduced the amount of memory required to install the app.

Source: https://medium.com/dev-channel/a-pinterest-progressive-web-app-performance-case-study-3bd6ed2e6154

The cost of creating a Progressive Web App

Companies consider different application options, often guided by the cost of the project. The cheaper solution is PWA. To create a PWA application, we use a programming language that is understood by all types of devices. So the application code is created only once. This translates into less work needed to be done by the programmers, i.e. less cost of the application.

PWA vs website

You can open the Progressive Web App using both a web browser and a program installed on your device. What are the features of the PWA used on desktop computers? PWA:

  • works without an internet connection if its features do not require it;
  • has push notifications and periodic updates;
  • thanks to the formula of a web page, it is found by search engines 
  • opens with a simple link, because you are hosting it from a server;
  • works on all platforms using a single code.

Progressive Web App as an Application

Installed as a PWA program, it has several features that are particularly appreciated by publishing companies. First and foremost is:

  • the ability to add the PWA as a shortcut on the desktop or quick access bar;
  • PWA's file storage feature;
  • access to the application after logging in;
  • the option to add to app stores in virtually any operating system.

PWA vs mobile app

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

  1. PWA does not require installation on your device - you can open it in a web browser window on any operating system.
  2. PWA does not require much disk space.
  3. Updating the web application only requires the user to refresh the page, with no additional installation required.

What is PWA - summary

Progressive Web App is a technology for creating applications that are available in a web browser and as a separate mobile app. It allows you to create an application available for multiple platforms, using one common code.

Many companies not only saved money by choosing PWA technology, but also gained efficiency and satisfaction of the application users. We hope that you will also consider this technology when planning to create your own application.