What is a PWA Anyway?

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We’ve been asked about progressive web apps (PWA) lately.  This new type of coding allows builders to create apps that also function on the web.  Some people ask us if they might replace their website completely  or connect the PWA via an API to their existing website and only use the PWA as an app on phones.

Building a Progressive Web App (PWA) doesn’t necessarily mean replacing your website. Instead, a PWA can complement your existing website or serve as a standalone application, depending on your specific goals and requirements. Here are two common approaches:

Using PWA as a Complement to Your Website:

In this approach, your PWA serves as an enhancement to your existing website. You can integrate PWA features to improve the user experience, such as offline access, push notifications, and faster loading times. Users can still access your website through their browsers, but if they visit using a supported device, they will have the option to install the PWA for a more app-like experience.

  • Advantages:
    • Enhances user experience with app-like features.
    • Can be accessed via browsers on desktops and mobile devices.
    • Offers improved performance and offline functionality.
  • Considerations:
    • Requires proper integration to ensure a seamless transition between the website and PWA.
    • Both the website and PWA need to be maintained separately.

Using PWA as a Standalone Application:

In this approach, you can design your PWA to function as a standalone application, independent of your website. Users can install the PWA directly on their devices, and it will function similarly to a native app.

  • Advantages:
    • Provides a focused, app-like experience for users.
    • Can leverage device-specific features like push notifications, offline access, and full-screen mode.
    • Works well for scenarios where you want to deliver content or services primarily through the app.
  • Considerations:
    • Requires clear communication to users about the availability and benefits of the standalone PWA.
    • Maintenance of the standalone PWA and any associated backend infrastructure.

Regardless of the approach you choose, it’s essential to consider the following:

  • API Integration:
    • Depending on your application, you may need to connect your PWA to backend services or databases using APIs. This ensures that your PWA can retrieve and update data as needed.
  • Cross-Platform Compatibility:
    • Ensure that your PWA is designed to work well on various devices and browsers to reach the widest possible audience.
  • User Experience:
    • Focus on creating an intuitive and engaging user experience, whether users access your PWA via a browser or install it as a standalone app.

Ultimately, the choice between using the PWA as a complement to your website or as a standalone application will depend on your specific business goals, target audience, and the nature of the content or services you provide.


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What is a PWA Anyway?

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