What are Progressive Web Apps and why are they worth considering in 2018?
Almost half of the world’s population is already actively using the internet, and in Poland over 25 million people. The Deloitte report “Tech Trends 2017” shows that Poles spend about 4.4 hours every day surfing the internet on computers, and another 1.3 hours on mobile devices. The “Digital in 2017: Global Overview” report prepared by We Are Social and Hootsuite indicates that there are 66% of unique mobile users in the world, which is 4.917 billion people. Statistics on the penetration of mobile devices are growing from year to year. 

Described market trends also influenced the choice of website ranking factors specified by Google. Mobile first – this is Google’s message to us. What does it mean? Meet the Progressive Web App – the future of using the internet on mobile devices.

What is Progressive Web App?

Let’s start in 2016 when Google went public with a new approach to app development called a “progressive web app”, or PWA. The trend of providing users with similar experiences as in the app on mobile sites began nearly 6 years ago, although it wasn’t precisely defined before the Google I/O conference in 2016. This year was a breakthrough and since then Google has been promoting progressive web applications. As many experts assume that this is the nearest future both in terms of development and user experience. This trend also remained valid during Google I/O 2017. What will 2018 bring? Is PWA worth considering as a solution to create a mobile application for your internet service?

According to the definition, Progressive Web App (PWA) is a web application designed to provide the best user experience on mobile devices. We can say that PWA is a website that looks and behaves in the same way as a mobile application. It means that PWA can be added to the main screen of the smartphone, send push notifications, also access the hardware of the device and what is more – work offline. Progressive Web Apps combine many of the advantages of native apps and the Web.

This change in approach entails many benefits, not only for companies and people who are currently developing technology on mobile platforms, but also for their users.

What are the main features of progressive applications?

To Progressive Web Application could be recognized as the PWA, must meet 10 key concepts defined by the Google Developers. Here they are:

  • Progressive​ – it must work for every user, regardless of which browser he/she uses, because it’s built with progressive improvement as a core rule.
  • Responsive​ – it must adapt depending upon the layout of the device. ● Connectivity independent​ – can work offline or on low-quality networks.
  • App-like​ – it looks the same as the application – it separates the functionality from the application’s content.
  • Fresh​ – efficient updating process is provided by the service worker (the service worker is a script that the browser runs in the background).
  • Safe​ – PWA should be sent over the HTTPS protocol to ensure the highest level of security.
  • Discoverable​ – search engines can identity PWA as an application thanks to W3C manifest and service worker registration scope.
  • Re-engageable​ – function supported by features like push notifications.
  • Installable​ – it allows users to add the most-needed applications directly on their home screen, without the need to use the app store.
  • Linkable​ – no complicated installation procedures, it can be easily shared via URL.

How do these guidelines translate into functionality of PWA?

Certainly among the basic features of PWA should be mentioned:

  • Easy installation – ​Users can install PWA on the screen of a mobile device without having to download them from the app store. Small application size reduces installation time to a few seconds. Progressive Web Apps, like native applications, are displayed on the entire screen of the mobile device (without the address bar in the browser) and send push notifications.
  • Speed ​- Google surveys show that 53% of users opt out of browsing websites if their loading time lasts longer than 3 seconds. Progressive Web Applications limit the amount of data downloaded to a minimum. With this, websites load quickly, even with poor quality internet connection.
  • Reliable performance​ – PWA works regardless of the quality of the Internet connection. This functionality is provided by the Service Workers mentioned above. That way, certain parts of the application are saved in the device cache and are available even in the absence of a network connection.
  • Quick update​ – In the case of Progressive Web Apps, you don’t have to write a separate code for individual mobile platforms. Their update is also very easy – the whole process takes place only on the server side. In this way, application verification on each platform is avoided, as is the case with native applications, and users don’t have to download updates from the store. Just the next time the application is started, the latest version is received.

PWA and native apps – discover the differences

Today, mobile applications are one of the best ways to promote online business. However, when it comes to creating them, developers have several options to choose from. Which one will be perfect for you?

Each option has its strengths. The websites are updated 24/7 and the applications are offline. Applications send push notifications, while the mobile network is indexed on Google. One reason determining the choice of a given technology has a counter-argument to apply the other. The final choice depends on the strategy and what target you choose. However, before you make the decision, see the differences between native and progressive applications:


Features Native Apps Progressive Web Apps
works in offline mode
has mobile navigation
send push notifications
has access to the main screen
no download required
has access to advanced phone features
has access to sensitive data on the user’s device
support on all platforms (iOS, Android, web browsers)
low data requirements
easy to share
no need to update

As we can see, PWA and native apps have their pros and cons. In fact, you can choose any of two applications depending on your specific needs and budget. In the traditional form, you had to create:

  1. Desktop and mobile web,
  2. Native Android App,
  3. Native iOS APP.

Now you just need:

  1. Progressive Web Application,
  2. Native iOS App,

In the near future will be just PWA.

How can using a PWA improve the performance of your web service?

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that Google very much promotes Progressive Web Applications. Presenting their strengths during Google I/O is just the tip of the iceberg. Google also published a number of case studies that show how Progressive Web Applications improve the performance of Internet services that have decided to make changes. Among them, particular attention should be paid to:

1. Alibaba and AliExpress service in e-commerce industry

As we know, any change in the usability or speed of the online store affects the conversion. The high level of conversions on the websites displayed on the computer is guaranteed by native applications. The problem occurs with mobile sites. Replacing a mobile site by PWA gives you real opportunities to generate large profits. An example of such activities is Alibaba, which after the introduction of a progressive application increased conversion rates by 76%, and the number of active users increased monthly by 14% for iOS and 30% for Android. AliExpress, seeing the benefits of introducing PWA, quickly developed its own application. The website recorded an increase in conversion rates by 104% for new users compared to a traditional website and mobile application.

2. The Washington Post, Forbes and Onet in information industry

The Washington Post after the introduction of PWA improved the speed of content loading by 88% compared to the traditional mobile site. Also Forbes can boast of a good result – PWA reduced page loading time from 3-12 seconds to 0.8 seconds. An example from Poland is the new Onet website launched in June 2017. Introduced changes have made that the page loading speed was increased, which is one of the most important parameters for users. Push notifications have also been set, thanks to which users are constantly informed about news from Poland and the world, as well as receive information about the weather or TV program. Therefore, the use of PWA for information portals is very wide. They don’t require access to advanced features of mobile devices, because the greatest value for users is quick access to the content they are interested in.

3. Zapytaj – Q&A portal in media industry

Dige also has positive experiences with PWA. We had the pleasure of creating a well-known application called “Zapytaj”. Zapytaj is a modernized and refreshed mobile version of the largest Polish Q&A portal. The project is aimed at enabling users to quickly access information irrespective of their location, increasing the number of portal views as well as user engagement in content production. In September 2017, the zapytaj.onet.pl website recorded more than 7.8 million real users. Over 4.2 million have used the mobile version of the mobile service. Implemented changes have positively influenced the page loading speed, also to a higher level of data security, and additionally Zapytaj become more user friendly.

4. Jumia Travel and Wego in booking industry

Jumia Travel is a platform for booking hotels, primarily all located in African countries. With the help of PWA, the company managed to reduce the amount of data downloaded up to five times, increase the conversion rate by 33% and reduce the bounce rate by 50%. Therefore, the use of PWA was a very good solution. The quality of internet connections in some countries, including African ones, is very poor. PWA effectively eliminates this problem. Wego used PWA to build a website for booking cheap flights and hotels. The use of new technology has reduced the time of full page loading from 12 seconds to 1.6 seconds for new users, and for returning users even below 1 second. In addition, compared to the previous mobile website, the conversion increased by 95%, and the bounce rate dropped by 20%.

As we can see in the above examples, Progressive Web Applications are the best solution for sites that require frequent content updates, used occasionally or those that don’t use advanced features of the mobile device.


Progressive Web App is a development direction that changes the quality of Internet use on mobile devices. The results obtained by companies that have already implemented PWA technology show, that it’s a very profitable decision. The ease of installation, its speed and the ability to use even with poor quality internet connection are real benefits that PWA offers to its users.

The solutions offered by PWA are ideal for companies whose business profile is based mainly on the consumption of content via mobile-web and don’t require support for advanced solutions or the use of mobile device functions unavailable to the browser. What’s more, their development is less expensive than native applications. PWA can be implemented using an existing web structure, without additional languages and programming technologies. PWAs are multi-platform. That way, it is possible to save time to adapt the service to different environments. Very important argument “for” is PWA are supported and promoted by Google. This directly affects the growth of popularity of this solution.

As you probably noticed, we are very excited about the possibilities offered by PWA. Of course, this is not a solution for everyone, but certainly a PWA app can be a very good solution even for advanced products that have already been introduced to the market. If you want to learn more about PWA’s features and learn about the possibilities of using this solution in your business, please contact us. We won’t leave any of your questions unanswered.

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Say hi and reach out to us with project brief/info and we’ll get back to you with answers (and/or more questions!)

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Plac Rodla 9, 70-419, Szczecin, Poland
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