If you’re in the software development world, I’m sure you’ve heard of progressive web apps, aka PWAs. That’s because PWA brings numerous benefits when it comes to increasing user engagement and retention.

In an era where customer experience is king, businesses need to find ways to reach that extra mile that will make your customers choose you over a competitor. And that’s where PWAs comes in.

In a nutshell, PWAs combine the functions of the native app and the accessibility of a website, all while not requiring any app store involvement. Much like native applications, PWAs can work offline, send push notifications, and access device hardware, such as cameras or GPS. This way, they allow you to create user experiences similar to native applications on mobile and desktop devices.

But unlike native apps, PWAs also offer a set of unique benefits that make them so popular among big brands. This includes: 

  • Faster development and reduced maintenance costs: since PWAs are mobile-optimized versions of web pages, you have one codebase for all devices.
  • Easier deployment: PWAs don’t need to go through the process of distributing through the app stores. So, whenever you need to update your app to fix a bug, for example, you don’t need to wait for those changes to be approved by the app store. This way, you can get that new version out much faster.
  • Larger reach: PWAs are searchable via search engines, making them discoverable.
  • Reduced customer friction: because the user doesn’t have to go through the hassle of downloading the app from the app store, they’re more likely to download a PWA than a native app. Plus, PWAs also have a smaller size (often under 1MB), which makes the download much faster while taking less space on the user’s phone. Thus, you’re able to reduce customer friction and increase engagement.

My original goal with writing this article was to show you how easy it is to build a PWA with low-code, so I won't go further into answering the "why PWA?" question. However, if you want to learn more about the benefits of PWAs and when you should choose them over native apps, here’s a great article about the topic. Now, let’s make a PWA.

Building a PWA with Low-Code

Imagine you work in the IT department of an airport inspection company. Airports hire your company to ensure that taking off and landing of planes is done safely. This includes tasks like checking if the lights are working, the signs and runway are in good condition, and if the fuel pumps are undamaged. I know, that’s a lot of responsibility.

To improve work efficiency, your boss asked you to develop an inspection app that allows field inspectors to register the condition of common safety concerns at the airport. This app must allow field workers to take pictures of the runway, and it must have access to the device’s GPS so that airports can identify where the issue reported occurred. The app also needs to work offline because the inspectors might not have internet access when they’re in the field, and it needs to work on multiple devices.

Now, you only have about five inspectors that are going to use the app, so it doesn’t make much sense to create a native mobile app and deploy them in app stores, does it? If you need to fix a bug or make an update, it will be quite cumbersome to involve the app store for just five users. In this case, a PWA is the best solution. If you need to make a change, you can iterate that on your PWA, and everyone will get the new version with no app store involved.

Here’s what I built:

 

 

If you want to see how I built a PWA with four screens that accessed the device’s camera and GPS, with offline and sync functionalities in just 19 minutes of development time, check out the full webinar in How to Build Progressive Web Apps Using OutSystems.

How to Build Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) with Low-Code webinar