When To Build a Progressive Web App

Written by Pete Nystrom

What makes a progressive web application (PWA) different from a regular one? Progressive web apps are web applications that resemble traditional mobile apps. They are built with web technologies including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. A PWA combines the features of native apps with the availability of web apps. Instead of having to invest in both a website and a native mobile app, you can select the more cost effective option and stick with building a PWA. The cost benefits along with its other advantageous features might influence your decision to build a progressive web app.  


What Is a Progressive Web App? 

PWAs are websites that can enhance built-in features to look and feel like a native web app. These apps can have a significant impact on your revenue, website security, and will enable you to reach more customers.  

Here are some of the most common components in a Progressive Web App: 

  • Malleable: Fits any form factor (desktop, mobile, tablet)
  • Loadable: Application shell architecture quickly loads the scaffolding of the app then the components needed 
  • Interactable: Make re-engagement easy through features like push notifications
  • Installable: Allow users to have apps on their home screen without the app store 
  • Linkable: Easy to share with a link


PWAs are cheaper than making both a website and a native app separately. 

They don’t need to be downloaded like an app rather they’re published and immediately available to users. Although it doesn’t have to be downloaded, it can have common mobile app features, yet it will function like a website, which ultimately improves the user experience. 

PWAs also have some offline functionality and mobile data savings. 


Although it might benefit users to skip the download process of native apps, you might be missing out on users who primarily browse the app store. 

Advanced app features such as using the mobile device camera or accessing your contacts lists cannot be achieved with a PWA. 

For those who are conscious of how long their phone battery lasts, PWAs won’t be of much help. They tend to drain your mobile battery quicker.


Why Build a Progressive Web App?

If your company has an e-commerce site or advertising, you might want to consider building a PWA. This offers users a better online and offline experience that is responsive, fast, and secure. With their high performance and easy accessibility, PWAS can increase your number of conversions.   

When users don’t have access to Wi-Fi or they don’t want to use up their data, a cache (software that stores data for future use) allows them to view content that they’ve already seen. This way they don’t have to play the famous offline T-Rex game from Chrome (although sometimes it’s a fun distraction). 

If you want your website to live on your user’s desktop, a PWA allows users to install the app directly from the web, no need for the app store. Unlike an app, PWAS are always up to date so your users can skip the process of installing updates. 

PWAs provide native app-like experiences. They can check users geolocations and send push notifications which helps to keep your customers engaged and interested. 

PWAs are compatible with whatever device your users use. They adjust to a variety of screen sizes and provide users with the same experience across tablets, mobile devices, and desktops. Whatever device users choose to use, your PWA is accessible which makes it easy for them to interact with your PWA anytime. 

Build a progressive web app when you want to be compatible across a variety of devices.

Companies who have created progressive web apps have seen significant impacts on their revenue, and increases in conversion rates and user engagement. A Pinterest case study on the performance of their PWA showed that user-generated ads increased by 44% while ad click throughs increased by 50% when compared to their mobile app. 

Checkout how more businesses have succeeded with a PWA by browsing these Google show cases

Providing an enriching experience on your website will help you reach more customers and retain your current customers. Getting people to install your app is not always easy and even when they do you’ll have to develop a strategy to keep them engaged. Progressive web apps overcome this challenge because they’re easily discoverable without the hassle of downloading an app.

How Do You Build a Progressive Web App?

Whether you want to build a progressive web app from scratch or you want to convert your current app into one, you only need to take a few steps. 

PWAs require that you use HTTPS for service workers and screen installation. To do so, you’ll need to purchase a SSL certificate from your domain registrar. You’ll also need to include a manifest.json in the root directory of your application. This is similar to the description of an app on the App store. This is where you can specify data about your web application and how it should behave when installed. 

When deciding whether to build a progressive web app, you should consider user experience, functionality, and costs. If you’re ready to build a PWA or you’re unsure if your business would benefit from one, we can help you decide if it’s worthwhile for your company. Contact us today!  

Pete Nystrom
Written by
Pete Nystrom
VP of Engineering, Seamgen
Software architect, full-stack web/mobile engineer, and cloud transformation expert




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