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Progressive Web Applications (PWA) – a web application with the functionality of a mobile app

Despite their rapid development, IT and new technologies still surprise users, hiding enigmatic concepts in the maze of their theories. It is worth clarifying some of them to be well-informed and not to be labeled as a layman. What is a PWA (Progressive Web Application), what are its characteristics, and what functionalities does it have? If you are hungry for knowledge, today we serve an article entirely dedicated to this issue.

PWA (Progressive Web Application) – what is it?

Although attempts were made several years earlier, the concept was finally developed in 2015, according to which a traditionally conceived website was combined with a mobile application, creating a kind of hybrid and at the same time an imitation of native applications. This solution was called PWA (Progressive Web Application), and in Polish, it is rather PAW (Progresywna Aplikacja Webowa). You can also find the term: progressive web application. What is it? This type of application aims to maximize user experience, and this has been achieved thanks to the following advantages: responsiveness, high quality, and fast page loading. Interestingly, they are accessible even during a weak internet connection. Such an application can be downloaded to a device, so it can be used both online and offline.


Do PWA and mobile applications mean the same thing?

Are Progressive Web Application and Mobile Application two terms referring to the same solution? The answer is “no,” and these two concepts should not be confused, which unfortunately often happens. This is due to the similarities between them, but certain nuances matter. It is worth knowing them to avoid being labeled as a layman or malcontent and shine with knowledge in the company.

The main differences between the types of applications mentioned above are:

PWAs can slow down the operation of “weaker” devices due to the need to use a sufficiently large amount of RAM;

Progressive Web Applications do not have access to all mobile functions;

Progressive Web Applications do not have access to the full personal data of the user.

What benefits can a web application provide?

Characteristic features of PWA applications include:

  • They have many functions of mobile applications, which provide an excellent User Experience (UX);
  • No criteria are required except for network requirements;
  • They encourage interaction with PUSH notifications;
  • No distribution costs;
  • Easier to share and present in search engine indexes – they provide the possibility of generating organic and paid traffic;
  • They are universal – they have one version for every device, operating system, and browser;
  • They are cheaper and easier to produce and update;
  • They use a small amount of space required for installation.

How popular are progressive applications and why?

Many large and well-known global brands use the type of application known as PWA. Among them, we can find sales platforms (Aliexpress, OLX), social portals (Instagram), travel applications (Trivago), news portals (Onet), and even dating apps (Tinder). A positive case study can be exemplified by the popular service Twitter, whose employees published data indicating an increase in the performance of this social portal after implementing a PWA application. The data included bounce rate, session duration (average time spent on the website or application), and engagement rate. In all these factors, a positive dynamic was noted. In light of the above facts, it is surprising that there are still not many applications of this type on the IT market.

What business advantages does a web application provide?

Business benefits resulting from using PWAs include:

  • Security of use – ensured by the HTTPS protocol;
  • Easier access – making it more popular;
  • Excellent UX – outstanding user experience;
  • High potential for e-commerce (still few on the market);
  • Longer display time, lower bounce rate – more time spent in the app;
  • Higher conversion and engagement rates – potentially greater brand recognition and sales.

Are there any inconveniences associated with using PWAs?

Unfortunately, yes. There are several disadvantages to this type of application, one of which is the fact that you cannot fully use the information in offline mode with a PWA. Not everything can be saved. Dynamic (variable) elements, such as prices, often need to be updated, which can be time-consuming. This is especially important in e-commerce, as there may be situations where the price remains outdated and a transaction occurs. Similarly to displaying an outdated price by the application, there may also be discrepancies in the availability of a product or service. This can also cause problems or discomfort.

What else is worth knowing about progressive applications?

PWAs gradually help companies (mainly in the e-commerce industry, but not only) to grow. Interestingly, they also effectively support building engagement and loyalty among customers and partners. Why? In the case of a traditional website (www), it is worth noting that it is not saved in the device’s memory. So, if a user browses the Internet using, for example, a laptop, they usually type relevant phrases from memory into the search bar. Then various suggestions for websites, including competitors, are displayed. Users who are not attached to shopping at a specific online store may forget the store’s website address. Wanting to find it again, they enter random phrases into the search engine, and if there is no result, they often abandon the idea of shopping at that store and move on to a very similar competitor’s site. PWA is available offline and is always “at hand,” making such situations practically non-existent here.

Summary of knowledge about Progressive Web Applications

As a reader, you probably admit that much of the information above was a big surprise or discovery for you. It is interesting that although you use them every day, you know relatively little about them. Yet, mainly due to their more economical, accessible, and advanced, while still quite simple, design nature, Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) are increasingly used among developers, enjoying growing popularity year by year.

As we mentioned above, there are still not many of them on the market. This does not change the fact that they have a tremendous untapped potential. Who knows? Perhaps over time, they will completely replace other types of applications, becoming the undisputed rulers of the virtual space. So, it is worth knowing about them today to be aware of witnesses to this domination and understand its reasons.

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Marcin Kozłowski

Marcin is an experienced front-end developer and leader of one of our custom software teams. In his work he cares about delivering high-quality web solutions for our clients, based on technologies such as Javascript, typescript, HTML, and CSS, mainly using the Vue.js framework and react.js library. In his free time, he enjoys playing console games and basketball.


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