What is a PWA?
A PWA (Progressive Web Application) is a type of web application that gives users the experience of using a mobile application. It combines the best of both types of software. As a result, users can enjoy native-like functionality without having to download anything from Google Play or the App Store.
Numerous examples show higher user engagement and conversion rates compared to mobile apps, while at the same time, the cost of developing and maintaining a PWA is significantly lower.
Considering the scale of web traffic coming from mobile devices and the growing reluctance of users to download more apps, PWA technology is a worthwhile alternative. This is the main reason for its increasing popularity. It is not a coincidence that this solution is used by the largest global companies – e.g. Twitter, Pinterest, Aliexpress, YouTube or Uber.
Although PWA is currently mainly associated with mobile devices, it has a much wider area of use. Microsoft has also recognised the potential of the technology introduced by Google, which has joined its development. As a result, it is now possible to use PWAs on Windows-based devices as well.
Learn the secrets of how PWA works
The main task of the PWA application is to increase the comfort and speed of using the programme. After the first loading of data, the content is stored in the device’s cache, significantly reducing the next loading time.
The smoothness of the user interface is comparable to native applications. This impression is enhanced by running the installed application in ‘standalone’ mode, with the address bar hidden. Launching the PWA application is as easy as launching any other program – just click the dedicated icon on the device’s home screen.
A significant advantage of PWA applications is that they can work offline – they do not need to be connected to the Internet to run. This gives you a lot more options compared to standard web applications.
A significant feature distinguishing PWA-based solutions from “standard” web applications is the ability to run in the background, which allows you, for example, to synchronise data or handle push notifications.
The PWA can be installed directly from the web browser using the options available in the menu. Some devices, such as Android, can display a message prompting the user to download the application, making it even easier to install.
PWA – an ocean of possibilities?
The technology discussed here extends the potential of web applications by providing features previously reserved for native applications.
The catalogue of PWA possibilities is constantly expanding. In addition, the functionality available on a given device depends mainly on the operating system and web browser. Google and Microsoft products offer the most functionality, while Apple provides the least.
The development of PWAs is part of a progressive enhancement strategy, i.e. making those features supported by a particular device available to users. This is done by designing solutions that use 100% of the capabilities of a given technology while not restricting users from using devices that do not support all available options.
Apart from the already mentioned background operation, some of the key PWA options include offline access, push notifications, easy installation directly from the browser and a very high level of security.
However, many more options are available, and new features are constantly being released.
Limitations you need to be aware of
Pros and cons
PWA technology offers essential advantages from the point of view of both the user of a given application and the team involved in the project. Of course, it also has its disadvantages. Below is a summary of its main features.
What features does a PWA application need?
In order to function as a PWA, a web application must fulfil certain conditions and implement several technical solutions.
Service Worker works fully asynchronously and provides solutions for working offline, receiving notifications, controlling network queries, handling cache and much more. The correct implementation provides users with high-quality products that, in most cases, do not differ in functionality from native applications.
PWA technology places great emphasis on security, so using an encrypted connection (https protocol) is a requirement.
PWA applications must also be responsive, i.e. work properly on all devices, with particular emphasis on adapting the layout to the resolution of a given screen. Network independence is also important, ensuring both online and offline operations. Indexability, which determines content availability in search engines, is also very important.
A prerequisite is also the preparation of a manifest.json file, which defines metadata useful, among other things, when installing the application on a device (e.g. name, icon, operating mode, etc.).
PWA apps – are they worth it?
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