Progressive Web Apps: bridging the gap between Web and Mobile

Front End Development, Web Development
23 November 2023

What are progressive web apps?


Consumers of today have become accustomed to the smartphone. There’s a good chance you’re reading this post on your mobile right now. So when we think about the features that define smartphone usability, we need to consider how these can be transferred to a webpage.


We cannot tell our clients enough: user experience is paramount, and the rise of Progressive Web Apps is critical in this area. So what is a progressive web app? These applications represent a meeting of the best features from both web and mobile platforms, offering users an engaging and flexible experience that bridges the gap between the two. Google Chrome engineer Alex Russell coined the term “Progressive Web Apps” to describe this new type of application, designed to deliver a more app-like experience within the web browser.


Are progressive web apps dead? Despite debate, today Progressive Web Apps are still used to address the limitations of traditional websites and native mobile applications. The advantages of progressive web apps is to create a hybrid experience, one that combines the accessibility of web pages with the performance and engagement of native apps. PWAs leverage the latest web technologies to provide users with a reliable, fast, and engaging experience, regardless of their device or network conditions.


Web vs. Mobile

The difference between web and mobile applications has long presented developers and users with a dilemma: native mobile apps provide superior performance and features but require users to download and install them. On the other hand, web apps are accessible through browsers but often lack the responsiveness and engagement levels of their native counterparts.


Benefits of progressive web apps:

PWAs dismantle these barriers, offering the best of both worlds. Users can access a PWA instantly through their web browser without the need for a time-consuming download and installation process. At the same time, PWAs deliver a level of performance and interactivity comparable to native apps, closing the gap that once separated the two.

  1. Uber: Uber’s PWA allows users to book rides, track drivers, and manage their accounts without the need to download a native app. It’s a streamlined experience accessible through a web browser.
  2. Pinterest: Pinterest offers a PWA that allows users to explore and save pins, even when offline. It provides a fast and engaging experience similar to its native app.
  3. The Weather Channel’s website is a PWA that allows users to get weather updates, access forecasts, and receive alerts. The PWA provides a smooth experience across various devices.
  4. Trivago: Trivago, a hotel and accommodation search platform, has a PWA that allows users to search for and book hotels with a fast and responsive interface.
  5. Tinder: Tinder has a PWA that lets users browse profiles and swipe left or right, offering a similar experience to its native app without requiring installation.
  6. Airbnb: Airbnb’s PWA allows users to search for accommodations, view listings, and manage bookings. It provides a reliable experience even in areas with a weak internet connection.
  7.  Google Maps Go: Google Maps Go is a lightweight PWA version of Google Maps that provides basic mapping and navigation features, suitable for devices with limited resources.


What are progressive web apps requirements?

At JTB, we aim for our clients’ web presence to mirror that of a mobile experience. To do this, we prioritise the following requirements:

  1. Responsiveness: PWAs are designed to be responsive, adapting seamlessly to various screen sizes and resolutions. This ensures a consistent and user-friendly experience across a myriad of devices, from desktop computers to smartphones and tablets. This responsiveness not only enhances user convenience but also expands a brand’s reach, as it can capture the attention of users who may have previously been deterred by the effort of downloading an app. In this case, accessibility is instant.
  2.  Offline Functionality: One of the best things about PWAs is their ability to function offline. Through the use of service workers, (scripts that run in the background) PWAs can cache content and enable users to access certain features even without an internet connection. Particularly in regions with unreliable connectivity, or for specific applications such as navigation programs – this is a game changer.
  3. App-Like Interface: PWAs are built with a focus on delivering an app-like interface. They are designed to be immersive, providing users with a familiar and engaging experience similar to native mobile applications. This includes smooth animations, intuitive navigation, and a responsive design.
  4. Push Notifications: PWAs have the capability to send push notifications to users, just like native mobile apps. This interaction is limitless: updates, promotions, personalised messages, even when the PWA is not in use. Doing so, with the right strategy, can allow you to be at the forefront of your consumer’s mind, driving loyalty, interaction, and assistance.
  5. Security: PWAs are served over HTTPS, ensuring a secure connection between the user’s device and the server. This not only protects user data but also increases trust in your online presence, which is particularly critical at this time, where audiences express ongoing privacy and security concerns.


In Conclusion: The Future of Progressive Web Apps

As technology continues to advance, the influence and prevalence of PWAs is only expected to grow. Major tech companies, including Google and Microsoft, have embraced and promoted the PWA concept, further solidifying its position in the digital landscape.


The flexibility, accessibility, and enhanced user experience offered by PWAs make them an obvious and strategic choice for businesses looking to reach a broader audience. As more industries recognise the advantages of PWAs, we can expect to see their growth across various sectors, from e-commerce to entertainment and more.


If you’re interested in discussing progressive web apps pros and cons, and suitability for your brand or business, we’d love to talk.
Contact us for more information or reach out [email protected] to arrange a chat. We’d love to learn more about your project.


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