Introduction to PWA

07.01.2020 Angelika Siczek
white letters PWA on a background with dark technology symbols

Progressive Web App is a technology that was introduced by Google. Its popularity is increasing, which is evidenced not only by the growing number of companies that incorporated it for their needs (Pinterest, Aliexpress, Trivago, OLX, Forbes), but also the level of support from the largest players on the market, such as Microsoft. PWA is a battle-proven technology that increases user engagement but, above all, responds to the requirements of the modern world of e-commerce technology, which relies on multi-channeling.


Introduction to PWA


What is the Progressive Web App?

Progressive Web App is a type of web application that can be used simultaneously as a website and mobile application on virtually any device. Because this technology was created by Google, it also meets their requirements for positioning in search results. In addition, it has been optimized to make it work fully compatible with all devices and at the same time be very fast.


PWA operates according to a simple principle. It is an application written in such a way that it looks and behaves like a regular website. It was created using web technology and is based on JavaScript, CSS and HTML. It is visible in search results and with access in the form of a link. However, with all this, it offers all the advantages of a mobile application. This means it works offline, can send push notifications, and uses the device’s hard drive.


It’s the perfect connection between the mobile and desktop world. Google, the creator of this technology, describes PWA in three superlatives.


– Reliable – It loads quickly and never displays a dinosaur, even in insecure network conditions. 

– Fast – Reacts quickly to user commands with smooth animations, without poor scrolling.

– Engaging – Gives a sense of native application on any device with engaging User Experience.


All this makes the user want to save the page to his desktop.


What is Lighthouse and what is it for?

Google claims that PWA has been user focused. However, there are no specific guidelines to clearly define the definitions of Progressive Web App. Defining PWA as fast or engaging is a subjective opinion. Google, however, provided the right tools to audit the web application for the features of PWA – Lighthouse on open-source. Thanks to it, a large part of manual testing is unnecessary. This tool allows you to test the application for performance, availability and good practices. For PWA to meet user requirements in terms of its similarity to native applications, 75% of the requirements (Progressive Web App Checklist) must be met.


How does PWA compare to the competition?

Not only PWA is able to provide a smooth transition between platforms. In addition to it, there are tools such as React Native, Native Scripts, Flutter, Ionic or hybrid applications. The last option allows you to build applications with an almost native feel, but without the obligation to have knowledge of all three programming languages. Developers write applications once, and it is available on several platforms. For dedicated applications, they would have to use Objective-C for iOS, Java for Android and once C # for Windows Phone. The hybrid solution is much faster and much cheaper.


A well-written and optimized cross-platform solution is no different from native applications. However, in the case of complex solutions, such as games or extensive programs, their speed of operation will be clearly slower, and even hanging is possible. The downside is also the lack of support for native operating system functions by hybrid applications.


However, they are a good choice when dealing with a small project or limited resources. In other cases, the native solution will be better. It is entered in a specific language, which guarantees the best performance on a particular platform. However, their creation and maintenance will be much more expensive and more complicated.


All these defects are compensated by PWA. A much lower development cost and shorter time to create the application, the use of one code and full compatibility are just a few advantages. Progressive Web App is still being developed and there is no reason to exclude the eventuality in which it will completely replace native and hybrid applications in the future.


What are the key benefits of the Progressive Web App?

The speed of the application or website of an online store is to be or not to be. Every second of delay in charging can cost the customer or his patience. PWA is the fastest because it also works offline. This makes them independent of the internet connection. The conversion rate is strongly related to the speed of the page. This forces e-commerce companies to optimize towards performance and speed. PWA, after initial loading, runs smoothly and responds to commands immediately.


This also results in their high reliability. Regardless of the quality of your internet connection, PWA will continue to function thanks to the ability to work offline. The user will not leave the page, which remains responsive, continuing to browse product cards or even adding products to the basket.


Progressive Web App has access to the functions of the device used by the user, which enriches the interaction with the site and encourages you to return. PWA has the ability to send push notifications, so retailers can inform customers about new promotions and available products on a regular basis and straight to their phone. In addition, you can add the page to the home screen in the form of an icon, in the shape of native applications. All this contributes to greater customer loyalty.


PWA combines compatibility with mobile and fixed devices. For the user, this is a plus because of the possibility of shopping in multi-channel mode and the availability of the store without installing the application. For the developer and owner, this is a smaller problem during the upgrade and shorter time to create the store. Because only one product requires care, not several applications on several different platforms, PWA maintenance is also lower. Above all, however, PWA meets market requirements and increasing sales on mobile devices. Its compatibility brings advantages, wherever you look.


Progressive Web App loads quickly, has a high User Experience thanks to the adaptation of the features of native applications by the browser and works offline. All this trumps SEO friendliness. PWA is optimized for Googlebots and positioning in search engine rankings. The whole construction of this technology was dictated by the desire to achieve high SEO results, and Google even provided tools for auditing applications to improve this optimization – Lighthouse. PWA for e-commerce business is a recipe for success.


How to implement PWA on a website?

PWA does not require full implementation. Because the higher goal is to encourage users to improve their applications to a certain level, 75% is enough to meet the Google standard. There are several ways to implement it. Progressive Web App can be created independently or use ready-made solutions. Frameworks such as Vue Storefront or PWA Studio will be a great help in creating applications.


If the store on the PWA application is to be created independently, the work must be transferred to front-end developers. First, the Web App Manifest must be created, then Service Worker, and finally the quality of the resulting product should be checked based on Google requirements. However, the whole process requires deep knowledge of JavaScript, HTML and CSS. If the goal is to create a small application that will not use the full potential of PWA, then this is possible.


There are many ready-made solutions. Angular Storefront, Deity Falcon, Front-Commerce, PWA Studio, Scandidweb PWA, Spartacus, Vue Storeftont. All of them will cope with any major e-commerce project, even when it comes to creating several websites or several stores for one large company. However, this integration will not be easy. During implementation, the page will not be available. This eventuality may be an unacceptable block for some companies. Also the cost of initialization can be daunting. However, a partnership with the right developer will guarantee success in the long run. The return on investment will be noticeable within 4 months of starting, not to mention savings in maintenance costs.



All these factors should be considered when deciding on a PWA. Most, however, should convince the possibility of development after implementation. The future is mobile, and e-commerce must stay up-to-date with trends to be worthy of competition on the market. Lower maintenance costs and the possibility of multi-channel development are the main attributes of PWA, which should convince sellers who want to increase the conversion rate, but above all – maintain a strong brand.

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