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April 2 2023

Digital glossary: What is a Progressive Web App (PWA)?

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The use of PWAs are increasing, so we break down what the acronym really means

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are championed as the next generation of digital technology, but what on earth does the term really mean? 

Put simply, it’s a web application that provides the same level of functionality as a native app, but runs from a web browser.

A PWA is designed to offer a seamless user experience across different devices and platforms, without the need for users to install any software or applications. So however a user of a PWA chooses to access the platform – be it desktop, tablet or smartphone – they will enjoy the same experience.

Previously, first-generation websites worked on desktop computers only, with second-generation technology websites then being optimised to work on mobile screens as well as desktop. PWAs take that on again, working across all platforms and offering multiple benefits that were previously only obtainable with app technology.

The development makes a PWA highly flexible and secure. It can be accessed in a browser however or whenever a user wants, but can also mimic a native app if a user creates a shortcut to sit within the app section of their smartphone or tablet.

PWAs are also designed to work offline and can be accessed even in areas with poor internet connectivity, offering push notifications to drive users to the app and providing them with updates and alerts without having to be using the service at the time.

Sounds expensive to do all this though, right? Maybe, but that’s not the case. It’s possible for one build to be deployed and maintained across multiple platforms, so it’s a seamless experience for you as well as your users.

b2b.store has used PWA technology for its popular B2B eCommerce solution, with the benefit that customers can start an order on their mobile, then complete it on their desktop at a later date. It provides the flexibility of a single solution that will work for all customers, no matter which device they use. A native app can be integrated with a PWA to give customers the option of having a presence in app stores if they wish.

This new generation of PWA also offers far greater functionality than older versions, including camera access and in-app messaging.

Functional, cost-effective and adaptable. No wonder PWAs are the latest digital must-have.