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Web Apps vs Progressive Web Apps: Why and How Are They Different?

Progressive Web Applications (PAWs) is the new kid on the block. The static pages that used to be popular back in the day have almost completely been replaced by feature-rich PWA websites, which connect to popular tools and services through APIs.

PWA means progressive web applications. These lightweight alternatives to conventional websites offer widescale compatibility with most browsers and devices, increased user engagement, better UI, and lower costs of development. So, how do they differ from regular websites?

In this post, we’ll explain what is a progressive web app and the most significant differences between web applications and progressive web applications.

Core Feature Differences

Before we delve into the core difference between PWA apps and web apps, it is important to point out that they’re made of similar technologies: HTML, JavaScript (and JavaScript frameworks including ReactJS, VueJS, and AngularJS).

However, PWA applications are more advanced than regular sites in the following ways:

  1. Offline mode – Unfortunately, regular web application users are limited from accessing online services without the internet. PWA websites, on the other hand, can still work offline with Service Workers. Essentially, these JavaScript files cache the site’s assets and keep the site running in the absence of the internet.
  1. Native experience – Standard sites often run into issues when forced to display over different screen sizes, browsers, and devices. Progressive web applications behave like native apps. They also behave like responsive sites across various displays.

The Advantages of Progressive Web Apps

One significant advantage of PWAs over both native and responsive applications is that they’re easier and cheaper to develop. There’s no need for the web application development team to create multiple applications for different devices. That’s because one PWA app will behave the same on supported devices.

Other notable progressive web app features and benefits:

  • Easy installation – Unlike native applications, PWAs can be installed straight from the browser without the need to go through the tedious installation process from a digital distribution platform (e.g., Google Playstore).
  • More stringent security under HTTPS – HTTPS is a security protocol that ensures safe data transfer between the server and a browser. PWAs must have an SSL certificate, which authenticates a website’s identity.
  • Stress-free maintenance from the user’s end – Slamming your clients with an update notification every time you implement changes can get overwhelming – and more data-consuming. 

With PWAs, the user does not have to keep updating their application on their device – all new changes are implemented every time the user refreshes their application.

Core Benefits of Responsive Web Apps Compared to PWAs

Like PWAs, responsive web apps adjust to the device they’ve been loaded on. This is enabled by technologies such as HTML 5 and JavaScript (preferably ECMAScript version 6). 

Some advantages of responsive sites over PWAs include:

  • Responsive web apps consume less battery and other system resources than progressive web apps. This is because they do not run complex tasks on a browser like PWAs.
  • PWAs are also limited in their ability to access some mobile device features that could put personal information at risk. Responsive web apps can overcome these limitations through the browser’s built-in features.
  • Responsive web apps are SEO-friendly, which makes them an excellent tool for business growth. 

PWAs can also be good for SEO, but they do not directly improve rankings on search engines.

What is the Development Process for Web Applications?

Responsive web applications have a long and sometimes tedious development process. It starts with identifying and defining the problem. 

Often, this step is intrinsic to a much broader requirement analysis, where the development team establishes the objectives of the project, challenges, and target audience.

The next steps include:

  1. Research and planning. Here, the development team identifies the most suitable tech stack to create a long-serving product. With research completed, the team can create a visual roadmap of the processes, estimated completion time, and potential challenges.
  1. Actual development. Here, the development experts split the task into front-end and back-end subtasks. Both are built simultaneously using the appropriate technologies. ReactJS is a popular front-end technology we use at Scimus, while PHP is another widely-used back-end language.
  1. Quality assurance and software testing services. Every line of code must be thoroughly checked for errors before it’s rolled out to the public. This way, the development team can secure vulnerable back doors and protect valuable data from malicious hackers.
  1. Maintenance. Every once in a while, the system is thoroughly assessed for potential threats, downtime, server errors, and so on. These issues can be flushed out with updates.

So long as you have a trustworthy software development partner like Scimus, creating and deploying web apps should no longer be an uphill task.

How are PWAs Developed?

Developing PWAs follows a similar process to responsive web apps. The process starts by identifying the scope of the project and its goal.

Next, the team focuses on creating a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) with just enough core features to demonstrate how the application will work. Lastly, the development team creates the actual application and tests for any issues with the end product before rolling it out to the end user.

Some popular examples of PWA applications include Uber, Starbucks, Pinterest, Spotify, and AliExpress.

Are Progressive Web Apps (PWA) the Future of Web Applications?

Although not fully embraced by the key industry players, progressive web apps could well be the future of web development. This comes amidst the ever-rising use of mobile phone devices.

A progressive web app is a crossbreed between a standard website and a native app. It combines the features of both (i.e., they live on the web but function as native apps). These features aspire to bridge the gap between websites and native applications, which translates to more adoption in future web development. 

The Final Word

Progressive web applications earn their name from the fact that they can work on pretty much any device or browser you use. Web apps, on the other hand, are any apps that can be accessed from a web browser. While both have their differences, getting in touch with a custom software and app development company should set you on the right path toward building robust web apps for your business.

Alexia Hope

Alexia is the author at Research Snipers covering all technology news including Google, Apple, Android, Xiaomi, Huawei, Samsung News, and More.

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