Jacob Morrow

2024-07-09 16:53:42

1288 Views, 5 min read

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are web applications that run on any platform using a standards-compliant browser, combining the best features of web and mobile applications. Built using common web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, PWAs offer functionality and user experience comparable to native applications while eliminating the dependency on app marketplaces. Users can find and use your app just like an app from their desktop.

In this article, we will explore the benefits of PWAs and how they enhance the user experience. PWAs combine the advantages of traditional web and mobile applications, providing a superior user experience.

Part 1. What are PWAs and What Are Their Benefits?

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are web pages built using HTML5 and CSS that behave like native mobile apps, optimizing user experience by delivering content faster. They can be hosted on web domains and accessed from any browser, and can also be installed as extensions within browsers.

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: PWAs can run on any device that supports modern browsers, whether desktop or mobile. This means developers can write code once and run it across multiple platforms.
  • Offline Access: PWAs use Service Workers to cache resources, enabling the app to function without a network connection. This is particularly useful for users in areas with unstable or no internet connectivity.
  • Easy to Promote and Acquire Users: PWAs can be accessed directly via a URL, making paid promotions through SEM and social media straightforward. Users can access the app with a single click, significantly improving conversion rates.
  • SEO-Friendly: PWAs can be indexed by search engines, enhancing visibility in search results and attracting more organic traffic. The direct URL access also simplifies sharing and promotion.
  • No App Store Approval Needed: Users can add PWAs to their home screens directly from the browser, bypassing the app store review process. This simplifies the release process and avoids potential delays and rejections.
  • No Marketplace Fees: Since PWAs are not distributed through app stores, developers do not need to pay commission fees to app stores. This means developers can retain more revenue without paying the typical 30% fee to stores like Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
  • Automatic Updates: PWAs can update automatically without user intervention. Each time the user accesses the app, it checks for and downloads the latest version, ensuring they always use the newest features and fixes.
  • Performance Optimization: PWAs utilize caching and other optimization techniques to deliver fast load times and smooth user experiences, crucial for improving user satisfaction and retention.
  • Security: PWAs must be served over HTTPS to ensure secure data transmission, protecting user data from man-in-the-middle attacks and other security threats.
  • Push Notifications: PWAs can use push notifications to engage users even when the app is not open, enhancing user engagement and retention.

Part 2. Differences Between PWAs and Native Apps

Differences Between PWAs and Native Apps

To understand the distinction between Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and native applications, it's essential to consider the following aspects:

1. Installation and Distribution

  • PWAs: Can be accessed directly through a browser and added to the home screen without needing an app store. They can be distributed via URL, allowing users to find and use the app through search engines or direct links.
  • Native Apps: Must be downloaded and installed via app stores (e.g., Apple App Store, Google Play Store). Distribution occurs through these platforms, where users can discover apps through search and recommendations.

2. Development and Maintenance

  • PWAs: Developed using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They are cross-platform, running on any device with a modern browser, which reduces maintenance costs.
  • Native Apps: Developed using platform-specific languages and tools (e.g., Swift/Objective-C for iOS, Java/Kotlin for Android). Separate development and maintenance are required for each platform, increasing costs.

3. Performance

  • PWAs: Generally perform well but may not be as smooth as native apps, especially in high-performance applications like games, due to running within a browser.
  • Native Apps: Offer optimal performance, running directly on the operating system and fully utilizing device hardware.

4. User Experience

  • PWAs: Provide a user experience close to native apps but may lack in areas like complex animations and gesture support.
  • Native Apps: Offer fully customized user experiences and better integration with device features.

5. Device Capabilities

  • PWAs: Can access many device features (e.g., camera, geolocation, push notifications) but may have limitations accessing advanced functionalities (e.g., Bluetooth, NFC).
  • Native Apps: Have full access to all device functions and hardware, suitable for applications requiring deep integration with device features.

6. Offline Support

  • PWAs: Use Service Workers to provide offline functionality, enabling basic operations without an internet connection.
  • Native Apps: Naturally support offline functionality and can operate fully without a network connection.

7. Security

  • PWAs: Must be served over HTTPS to ensure secure data transmission.
  • Native Apps: Undergo security reviews by app stores, but their security depends on the developer's implementation.

8. App Size

  • PWAs: Typically take up about 1MB of storage space.
  • Native Apps: Can range from MB to GB in size.

9. App Updates

  • PWAs: Automatically update without user intervention.
  • Native Apps: Require users to update manually via app stores or set automatic updates.

10. Development Costs

  • PWAs: Generally have lower development costs as a single version can run on multiple platforms.
  • Native Apps: Have higher development costs due to the need for separate versions for each platform.

Part 3. Successful PWAs to Date

  • 1


    Instagram’s website is a PWA, functioning seamlessly for years. Previously, it was only accessible on mobile, but now you can verify your profile from a browser, though with limited functionality compared to the mobile app.
  • 2


    Twitter launched Twitter Lite as a PWA a few years ago, now rebranded as Mobile.Twitter. It offers a full-featured experience even without an internet connection, significantly improving user engagement.
  • 3

    Google’s Santa Tracker

    3.Google’s arcade-style game is a PWA where you can track Santa’s route in real-time and enjoy numerous levels of gameplay through a browser.
  • 4


    Uber’s PWA is one of the best, offering functionalities like ride-hailing, driver ratings, and fare estimates, comparable to its native app.

Part 4. How to Add Push Notifications to Your PWA for User Marketing

If you have developed a Progressive Web App (PWA), reaching out to your users effectively will be a key concern. Adding push notifications to your PWA can significantly enhance interaction and marketing efforts by allowing you to send messages to users even when they are not actively using the app. Here are the steps to implement push notifications:

  • Obtain Push Notification Permission: Requesting permission for push notifications is typically done when a user first visits your app. However, it's crucial to note that if a user denies this permission, it becomes challenging to ask for it again. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to use EngageLab’s soft prompt feature, which requests push notification permission at a moment when the user is likely to consent.
  • Register a Service Worker: Ensure that your Service Worker is registered because push notifications rely on it.
  • Subscribe to Push Service: You need to subscribe to a push service and send the subscription information to your server. VAPID (Voluntary Application Server Identification for Web Push) is commonly used for authentication.
  • Send Push Notifications from the Server: On the server side, use a push service (such as the Web Push Library) to send push notifications.
  • Handle Push Notifications: Handle push notifications in your Service Worker and display them to the user.


To focus on your core business, it is advisable to adopt a simpler solution by integrating the EngageLab WebPush SDK into your PWA. EngageLab WebPush is a powerful tool that seamlessly integrates with PWAs and utilizes Service Workers to efficiently handle push notifications. By leveraging the unique capabilities of PWAs and EngageLab WebPush, developers can create a highly interactive and seamless user experience.

In the EngageLab WebPush dashboard, you can send notifications to target users using various methods such as tags, segmentation, aliases, and broadcast. If your customers are located in different countries and use different languages, the EngageLab WebPush multilingual feature can translate the notification content into over 30 languages with one click and send the corresponding language push messages based on the user's device language.

Register now for EngageLab WebPush and enjoy a free 30-day trial. Experience the powerful features firsthand and enhance your user engagement today!

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