What is PWA? A beginner's guide to Progressive Web Apps in 2021

PWA means Progressive Web App, and Progressive Web Apps are the future of software applications. Let us understand all you need to know about Progressive Web Apps from a beginner's perspective.

An Introduction to Progressive Web App

Technology is advancing day-by-day, and the cool thing is, all of us have been experiencing it. Let's take an example of mobile phones. We have seen the tremendous increase in the adoption of mobile phones in the recent times. And, it is on the progressive path to increase in the future as well.

progressive web apps (pwa)

Today, smartphones have been an integral part of our daily life. We can't even imagine our life without mobile phones. We use them extensively for our day-to-day needs, may it be online shopping or online banking or keeping in touch with friends, and much more. 

Thanks to the mobile apps which makes all these things possible. Most of the businesses generally have their mobile apps for the services they provide. In case if the mobile app is not there, web apps are always there to serve our needs.

Mobile Apps and Web Apps are the present of the software applications. However, the question is, what is the future of software applications? In this article, we are going to look at one such latest trends of software programming, which is called as Progressive Web App. We will try to learn this technical jargon called, Progressive Web App, in simple words and, in such a way that, even a non-technical person would be able to easily understand it.

So let us start now and explore, what is Progressive Web App?

What is a Progressive Web App?

Before we understand what are Progressive Web Apps, Let us take a look at how we are presently using the mobile apps and web apps, from an end user's perspective.

what is pwa?

For using mobile apps, we have to first go to the play store, search for the app, wait for the application to get downloaded, install it and once it is installed, then we can start using it. So many steps to follow just to get started, isn't it?

For using web apps, we have to go to the browser, type in the website URL, wait for the website to get loaded and then we can start using it. Lesser steps here, however, the user experience would not be the best when we are accessing the web apps on our mobile phone browser.

Now, if we think from business perspective, as there are lot many steps involved in getting started with using the mobile apps for an end user, there is a heavy drop-off in the user count, and it primarily affects the business. 

On the other side, from the end user's perspective, the ease of use is missing somewhere, and that's what it causing the user to drop-off. In this situation, what if we have something that would provide an ease of use to the user, and at the same time, it will help the businesses as well. That would be a win-win game for both end users and the businesses. That's where PWA comes into picture. PWA stands for Progressive Web App. 

"Progressive Web Apps, best of both the worlds of mobile apps and web apps, and enhances the user experience to make it much simplified and easy to use. At the same time, benefiting the business as well."

To your surprise, you might already have started using the Progressive Web Apps and might not be knowing about it. It has been quite some time since the concept of Progressive Web Apps has come into the existence, and some of the businesses have already made their Progressive Web Apps as a part of their business game. 

Let's see how to explore Progressive Web App in our mobile phone. When you open a web app in your mobile phone, you will see the three dots besides the address bar. After opening it, you might have seen the option called "Add to Home Screen" as shown below.

Add to Home Screen

Once you click on Add to Home Screen, it quickly creates an app icon on your mobile phone, and if the business had created a Progressive Web App, you will see that the application has actually been installed as a mobile app on our mobile phones.

The awesome thing is, all these would happen within a time span of just few seconds, and no lengthy complex process need to be followed for installing the app. Simply amazing, isn't it? Yeah, that's what Progressive Web App is. 

By the way, this is just the peak of the iceberg, there is much more that Progressive Web Apps has to offer to enhance the user experience. We will not go into details of everything, and will focus on understanding the overall concept from a layman's perspective.

Why Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web App is the future of software applications. Here is why?

why pwa?

PWA simplifies the user experience and enhances the ease of use, and that's what end-users are loving it. This key factor is also acting as a fuel to the growth of businesses. In my opinion, this could be one of the fundamental reasons that why Progressive Web Apps are the latest trends of software applications. However, there are multiple different reasons as well. Let us quickly take a look at how a Progressive Web App can benefit to the businesses?

Benefits of Progressive Web App

So far, for developing native mobile apps and web apps, businesses had to have separate code base for both the applications, maintain them and also probably have the dedicated teams for each of them. It directly impacts the cost of operations for the businesses. However, with Progressive Web App, it is possible to design and develop web applications in a such a way that, it can also work as a mobile app as well. Hence, businesses have a lot of cost advantages from operations perspective because of this reason.

Another important thing is, Progressive Web Apps uses the state-of-the-art latest technologies and improves the speed of loading the pages, making the browsed content available offline and much more, and thus, improves the overall user conversion and which directly benefits the business. Many businesses have seen the drastic increase in the business once they have implemented the Progressive Web Apps. 

Also, businesses do not have to worry about keeping the mobile apps backward compatible with the various versions and also, do not have to create native mobile apps for different mobile operating systems such as android, iOS and so on.

And of course, with Progressive Web Apps, users do not have to have their mobile storage flooded with the lot of space a mobile app may require. Progressive Web Apps are pretty light weight and requires very less storage in comparison to the traditional native mobile apps. Isn't that cool?

These were just the high-level points which makes Progressive Web Apps a much more suitable option of choice for businesses to take their business to the next level. And, this is what makes Progressive Web Apps as the future of software applications.

Progressive Web Apps examples in real-world

So far we have talked about theory of Progressive Web Apps, Now, it's time to see them in action. Let us take a look at some of the Progressive Web Apps examples in the real-world.

pwa example

The first pwa example is the most commonly used Twitter. You can experience and see the pwa for twitter live in action by yourself. Once you visit twitter.com, by just clicking on Add to Home Screen option, you will see the app getting installed on your mobile phone just in a few seconds. And now, all the features of Progressive Web Apps are on your fingertips to explore. Experience it and see the difference in comparison to the traditional usage of mobile app.

Flipkart is another real-world pwa example. It has adopted to Progressive Web Apps very early in the game. It is worth to check Progressive Web App for Flipkart and experience it to understand the difference between mobile apps and Progressive Web Apps in terms of the usage and user experience.

The list of Progressive Web Apps real-world examples is long and most of the businesses are now on a path towards implementing Progressive Web Apps to accelerate the growth of business.

"The best thing a business could have is to have a Progressive Web App"

What's next?

In this article, we had a bird-eye view of Progressive Web App, and we have understood the core concept in layman's language. 

Next thing as a developer, you may want to get acquainted with the technical aspects of Progressive Web App, and understand the architecture and patterns used for developing them, also get familiar with the key terminologies such as Application shell, service worker, manifest file and so on. This will enable you to get started with developing  your first Progressive Web App. It is worth to check some great content on pwa at Progressive Web Apps by web.dev and Progressive Web Apps on wikipedia

Next thing as a business, you should add Progressive Web Apps on to your strategy list, and make it part of your business plan at the earliest possible to rip the benefits of Progressive Web Apps.

Next thing as an end-user, you should enjoy the seamless experience that Progressive Web Apps has to offer.

With that, concluding my thoughts here. The end-goal of Progressive Web Apps is to have happy users. I hope the article about it also had made you happy in terms of understanding the key concepts in simple words as a beginner. It would be great if you could share your thoughts/comments at techfundas.in@gmail.com, I would love to read them. 

Thank you for your time reading the article.