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What Are Progressive Web Apps?

Rafael Dourado

In this article, explore and understand what is a vector database, this promising and innovative trend in the data market.

If you’ve ever sent an email, placed a bid online, or “liked” someone’s post, then you’ve used a web application. These apps allow you to take advantage of the many functions a website offers.

Chances are, though, that you’re not always doing this on a desktop computer. Instead, you may choose to check in on your colleagues or send a quick email to your employees on the go. Mobile devices are handy, but web apps may not always run as they should. Depending on your signal, certain functions could work in the blink of an eye. Others, meanwhile, may take so long to load that you just decide to try again later.

As more people send messages and buy products on their phones, those processes need to be fluid and headache-free. That is why more companies are looking to build better user experiences through progressive web applications (PWAs). These give you a more streamlined experience, particularly on mobile. This should be similar to what you experience on apps you download from Apple’s App Store or Google Play. Unlike those, however, progressive web apps use HTMLCSS, and JavaScript to run.

Web Apps Vs. Progressive Web Apps

At this point, you may be wondering what the difference is between a web app and a progressive web app. A PWA is essentially a “boosted” web app that can load even without an internet connection. Here are 10 key characteristics of a progressive web app:

  1. Safe – The app must use the HTTPS protocol to protect the privacy and integrity of the exchanged data.
  2. Progressive – It must work for all users, regardless of their browser. The app should be built using progressive enhancement patterns.
  3. Responsible – It must fit on any screen size: desktop, mobile phones, tablets, etc.
  4. Internet-free – It should be accessible on bad-quality connections or even offline.
  5. App-like – Users should have the same experience as any other native/hybrid application (i.e., an app from the App Store).
  6. Always up to date – Users should not download any updates. Since a progressive app is a website, all the updates must happen in the background.
  7. Detectable – It must be identified as an “application.” Thanks to W3C manifest and a proper service worker registry, it is possible to allow the search engines to find them.
  8. Re-engageable – It should increase engagement by encouraging users to return via push notification.
  9. Installable – It must allow the user to create a shortcut on their desktop with a personalized icon, without any resources from an app store.
  10. Shareable – It must be easy to share with only its URL. Also, it must remain easy to access.

It also helps to think about what a progressive web app is not. Any technology that needs an executable file to run (you’re probably most familiar with .exe) is not a progressive web app. Also, anything you can download from an app store is not a progressive web app. With PWAs, all you need to do is click on a URL for a quick experience on desktop or mobile.

How Do Progressive Web Apps Work?

Progressive web apps are possible because of an event-oriented script called service workers. In their lifecycles, these service workers run in the background, giving the user access to the app offline and with hassle-free updates. Service workers also help you send push notifications to users. Everything in a progressive web app must run with a secure HTTPS protocol, protecting your users’ data.


When users access your PWA via a URL, the first thing they will see is an application shell. This should load almost instantly and give users enough to begin engaging with your progressive web app. You may also wonder how everything displays in the way you want it seen, from page titles to the PWA’s color scheme. All of this and more are coded into a JSON-based manifest file.

Does My Company Need a Progressive Web App?

There are many benefits of progressive web apps. However, if you already have a robust native app (meaning an app that users can download from an app store), then you may not need a PWA. This is particularly true if your website does a good job on mobile devices of navigating users away from the website itself and onto the native app.

You should also consider your company’s unique circumstances. If your website has high name recognition, then many users will want to perform key functions on your mobile website. In that case, a progressive web app may be the best solution. However, if your organization is new or has low name recognition, you can decide whether to focus on a progressive web app or a native app. Either of these could offer a great mobile experience for your growing user base.

Decisions like these are part of what we at Programmers call digital modernization. The technology with which we sell products and services online is rapidly developing. You do not want to be left behind. But at the same time, you need to focus your modernization efforts on areas that best help your bottom line. That way, you do not waste your limited time and resources. Learn more about fast-tracking digital modernization with Programmers.

To Review

In 2022, more people than ever use web apps on their phones. The quality of each user’s internet connection can drastically vary. That is why many businesses are switching to progressive web apps. These apps provide a more fluid and consistent experience across the board. You can send push notifications to users and allow them full offline access to your PWA, thanks to service workers. These core benefits are what separate PWAs from other web apps. A progressive web app could make sense for your company, especially if you have not invested in a top-of-the-line native app.

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