What is a Progressive Web App (PWA)?

What is a Progressive Web App?


A Progressive Web Application, or PWA, is a responsive web application that uses the modern look and feel of mobile apps on websites to deliver an app-like experience to users.

“Progressive Web Apps combine the best of the world wide web, and the best of mobile applications. They are useful to users from a first visit in their browser with zero installation required. With use, a relationship with the app is built over time, and it becomes more powerful by harnessing that users’ data.  Progressive Apps have the ability to load quickly even on poor network connections, send relevant push notifications, have an icon on the home screen, and load as a top-level, full screen experience.”

PWAs are accessible via web URLs, are indexed by search engines, and have a slew of requirements, such as:

  1. Responsive design: the app must work for every browser type, resolution and device
  2. Offline ability: enhanced to allow for use while offline or with a low-quality connection
  3. App-like: using the app shell model, provides the user with an app navigation experience
  4. Secure: served via an HTTPS secure network to avoid data tampering
  5. Discoverable: they are identified as apps and available to be indexed by search engines
  6. Installable: allows users to keep the app on their home screen without installing it from the app store
  7. Linkable: easily share via a URL


Why Build a Progressive Web App?


Consistent User Experience
Chances are you’re in a room with people who are using various devices: Android, iPhone, tablet, laptop, desktop. There’s an estimated 3.5 billion people worldwide browsing through their mobile devices alone, the stat doesn’t even include tablets. These numbers are set to increase sevenfold by 2021 according to statisticians, so it’s clear that businesses cannot afford to dismiss the value of this usage.


Instant Gratification
The pitfall of traditional mobile responsive websites is often their load time: in 2016 Google found that over half of users “bounce” from a website after only three seconds. Coming up with a way to quickly engage customers can increase both your user interactivity and retention.


Physical Storage Not Required
Another distinct advantage to PWAs is the lack of storage space required: it is hosted on a web server, so you don’t need to install anything, filling up your precious device storage with app content. Users can still install a PWA on their device homepage for accessibility minus storage and manual update issues.


No App Stores
Because PWAs do not need to be installed, you and your development team can skip the whole can of worms that is submitting an app to Google Play or iTunes. Developers only need to build one version of the app and deploy, saving time and money on developing for device specific operating systems. This also applies to updates, and revisions are instantly available.


Better SEO
PWAs and their content can be indexed by search engines – in much greater detail than a native app. They show up in search results including mobile devices, making them a powerful market tool.


Some Examples of Progressive Web Apps:


By Mary MacPherson

Authored by Mary MacPherson

Mary is a popular Vancouver DJ and has been working in the high tech field since her inception as a web developer at Newbridge Networks in 1996.

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