Michał Szklarski

Head of Digital Solutions

14 most frequently asked questions about Progressive Web Apps

If you're serious about your mobile users, you've probably already heard about PWA: a technology that lets you combine benefits of mobile and web applications.

What exactly does it consist in and how does it translate into achieving business goals? These are the answers to the most common questions about Progressive Web Apps.

PWA – what does it actually mean?

PWA, or Progressive Web Application is an application written in a web language (JavaScript + frameworks), which works as a native mobile or desktop application. Namely, it displays notifications, works offline as well as in the background, and can use native features such as a camera, geolocation or gesture navigation. At the same time, in contrast with an app, you don’t have to download it.

From user’s perspective: what does PWA change?

The application written in PWA combines the best facilities of using the internet not only through the browser but also through the application. Just like the browser, it allows easy access directly from the search engine and doesn’t require any additional installation steps. And when it comes to the application, it enables you to use the native functions of the mobile device (push notifications, camera, QR / bar codes, geolocation) to increase engagement. All these components give users an opportunity to browse content conveniently, search for information or buy on a mobile device without the necessity of installing a dedicated app. They will also like the fact that PWA works (completely or partially) offline and that when he adds PWA to the home screen of his device, it will take up much less space than a traditional mobile application.

Do all browsers support PWA?

Yes. All modern mobile and desktop internet browsers (including Microsoft Edge) do support the technologies used to build the PWA and the standard itself. Obviously, the best support can be found at source, in Google Chrome.

Will PWA work properly on any mobile device?

Sure, if a given site meets the requirements of the PWA Checklist and passes Google Lighthouse benchmark. Of course, we aren’t taking into account devices with outdated versions of operating systems.

Is PWA not just another technological buzzword?

Definitely not! PWA will stay with us for a long time because the way people use mobile devices has changed. They tend to download less applications and use only a few regularly. At the same time, they browse a lot of online content on their smartphones and expect the experience to be convenient and frictionless - even if without a dedicated application. Interestingly, PWA has been implemented by market leaders such as Trivago, Forbes, Aliexpress, and the Polish ones cling to this as well (e.g. the NaTemat service). Actually, technologies used to create progressive applications have been around for several years and are being actively developed by technological giants: Facebook and Google.

How long will the implementation take?

The average duration of such a project is about 3 or 4 months. When it comes to ready-to-use applications, like the e-point PWA Commerce Accelerator, it is very likely that this time will drop even up to 1-2 months.

Which industries will benefit from PWA the most?

Due to the fact that PWA determines the future of the internet, such solutions will find a use in every industry, actually - from FMCG to news portals. Most advantages, however, will be visible when online sales is involved, both in B2B and B2C. PWA supports the customer's omnichannel journey.

PWA can also introduce a new quality in customer service: we can keep the customer up to date with invoices to be paid, orders to receive, etc. by using push notifications directly from the browser. Additionally, PWA means a cohesive customer experience (CX) on all devices.

What are business benefits of PWA implementation?

The implementation of PWA will bring the following benefits:

  • Cost optimization (one team and one technology instead of separate units for browsers and individual mobile applications)
  • Better visibility in search engines (more about that below)
  • Improved page performance
  • Easier and more cost-effective acquisition of new users when compared to the mobile application
  • Increased user engagement, which translates into an increase in conversion and decrease of the bounce rate
  • No common problems related to mobile applications (long deployment and update times, necessity of downloading through a dedicated store app, Apple / Google verification)
  • Integration with any existing (or new) system operating as a data source - back-end

What are the best examples of a well-preforming PWA?

There are a lot of inspirational examples in various industries to be mentioned, but let’s focus on three models:

  • Aliexpress: due to speed and real effects: an increase in the number of new users in all browsers by 104% as well as an increase in conversion by 82% on iOS;
  • Forbes: the new page loads in 0.8 seconds. Introducing PWA has triggered mobile users to browse the site for a longer time and look at more content. Thus, they watch more ads. Such a situation translates into Forbes not only providing better quality to its readers, but also offering more to advertisers;
  • Trivago: up to half a million people have added PWA Trivago to their home screens. They are much more involved, and the conversion has increased by 97%.

Who should be in the team responsible for implementing the PWA? What roles does the PWA project include?

The implementation of a website compliant with the PWA standard requires similar personnel expenditures as front-end projects (design included). And therefore, such a team is supposed to consist of:

  • Front-end Developers (JavaScript, HTML, CSS, frameworks)
  • Full-stack Developers (JavaScript, frameworks)
  • UX experts
  • Architects (PWA)
  • Project Managers

How to start?

If you want to make the usage of mobile devices much convenient for your clients:

  • start by diagnosing the current condition of the website. Take a closer look at users’ feedback and consider using tools like Lighthouse to do this
  • think about the business benefits that PWA can bring or the challenges it produces
  • gather knowledge about the current technical and information architecture
  • set a clear boundary: what the front of the site is responsible for, and what the tasks of the back-end systems are
  • choose one of three options: do you want to refresh the current version of the portal or platform, adapt it to the PWA standard, or maybe you prefer to use a ready solution (like PWA Commerce Accelerator), or do the entire front of the site from scratch

These decisions and information are the foundation which concur to the success in implementing PWA.

Does PWA support SEO?

To negate the popular myth, PWA doesn’t provide a better positioning of the website in search engines, but with this standard you can get a complete checklist of requirements. If we meet them, stick to all points, without any omissions or simplifications, our web application will be higher in the ranking than others that do not follow these assumptions.

Which technology: Vue or React?

Vue.js is a great set of tools (framework) for smaller projects the reason being it is focused on functional simplicity. The main disadvantage of Vue, however, is the lack of support from a powerful corporation, which would undoubtedly ensure stability in the dynamic world of JavaScript technology. As far as React.js is concerned, the situation looks different due to the fact that it has Facebook backing as well as a large and rich community supporting it. At e-point, we chose React.js technology because of the access to information, greater control over the architecture of projects (React does not impose any specific requirements, as opposed to Angular), better adjustment to the enterprise sector due to efficiency, stability and security and good quality of accompanying libraries (Redux, React Router, Next.js).

Are there solutions dedicated to specific e-commerce platforms?

In the PHP world there are several similar solutions to be mentioned. Nevertheless, for systems and services that are located in a stable and secure Java ecosystem, PWA Commerce Accelerator e-point is the first dedicated solution.