The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted companies both large and small to seek new avenues for connecting with and engaging customers, clients, employees and others. One technology that some are pursuing involves the progressive web app or PWA. Progressive web apps are a bit different from a typical mobile app, with a unique set of benefits and drawbacks.
As with any technology, PWAs are not suitable for every organization’s needs or goals, but there are some instances where progressive web apps can be very effective. They can even be used as part of a multi-phased development project involving the creation of a PWA in conjunction with a traditional mobile app and/or enterprise software platform.
What are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?
Progressive web apps are web-based applications that work on virtually any device that can access the internet. This means that PWAs are most comparable to a hybrid cross platform mobile app — such as a React Native mobile application — since you can target users with iOS-based iPhones and iPads, along with Android-based devices. The ability to target a broad swath of users with a progressive web app makes this technology a budget-friendly solution. This technology is also suitable for those who require a rapid deployment.
PWAs can be integrated with existing APIs to connect to and integrate with various third-party platforms. Traditional mobile apps also use APIs for integration purposes, which means PWAs are fairly comparable in this regard. This means that a progressive web app can be integrated with everything from social media platforms, messaging platforms and email, to CRMs and even ERP systems.
A traditional mobile app launches via an icon on your mobile device home screen. And now, technology has progressed to a point where PWAs can also be launched in a similar manner, as users can save a “shortcut” icon that will take the user directly to the web app platform. Additionally, it’s even possible for developers to generate PWA push notifications — an important form of engagement that was previously reserved only for traditional mobile applications.
In terms of functionality and features, PWAs can be developed to accommodate a vast range of different purposes and functions. But there are some limitations that you may not necessarily encounter with a traditional mobile app. This is one area where it’s really best to consult with a development company to determine whether a PWS is well-suited to your goals and objectives.
What Are the Drawbacks and Benefits of PWAs?
Like any technology, there’s a unique set of progressive web app pros and cons. Consider these points when deciding whether PWA technology could be the right fit for your app development needs.
- Instant Usability — Unlike a traditional mobile app, there’s no installation required. This offers a smooth user experience and according to one study, it could help you retain more potential users. A recent study found that you lose as much as 20% of users with each step required to install and launch a mobile app. So the ability to instantly engage is certainly an advantage for PWAs.
- Speed & Data Usage — Progressive web apps can leverage caching to speed your experience on subsequent visits to the app, but they tend to be more data-hungry since there is little or no data stored on your device as occurs with a traditional web app. This can result in greater data consumption and slowness during times of high internet demand.
- No Offline Availability — As a web-based application, a PWA requires internet access. Traditional mobile apps can store data locally on your device, making it possible to use some or even all app features without connectivity.
Broad Reach and Affordability — As previously mentioned, PWAs can be used on virtually any device that can access the internet, making this a wonderful option for anyone who is developing an app for use by a diverse population. A single app is certainly more affordable to deploy and maintain in the long-term when compared to multiple native apps.
- Device Hardware & Features — Progressive web apps can certainly leverage device hardware, such as the camera, microphone, etc. But the possibilities are a bit more limited for PWAs, since you need to develop a platform that works with a broad variety of devices. Traditional mobile apps tend to be a better choice if you’re going to get really innovative with your app’s features and functionalities.
PWAs can be a great option as part of a phased development project. In cases where you require a fast-deployment with basic functionalities, a progressive web app may be a great first phase. This could be followed by the development of a more sophisticated mobile app that builds upon the features that are available in the PWA.
At 7T, our development team enjoys working with a variety of mobile app technologies as we work to help our clients achieve a sizable ROI through innovative digital transformation. As a leading Dallas software and mobile app development company, 7T integrates cutting-edge solutions into each and every development project, from mobile app development, to custom software projects such as CRM platforms or ERP development, and data solutions. We’re ready to deliver collaborative, multi-phased software development services to meet your company’s timeline, budget and project goals.