What is a progressive web app and why you need one

What is a progressive web app and why you need one

Progressive web apps have become the next big thing. The issue is that a lot of people are still not entirely sure of what it is and how it could be useful. The best way to define it is through the characteristics. There have been a number of companies such as Uber and Starbucks that have made a seamless transition from native app to incorporating progressive web apps. These can be beneficial by allowing your users to access a similar experience to the native app from any web browser. Overall, there can be a number of benefits which should help you understand why a progressive website is what your community needs.

two computers with code next to each other

What is a progressive web app?

A progressive web app is a web page that incorporates app-like features. What this means is that the purpose of the web page is to be a seamless transition from the native app. Therefore, it should have the same features incorporated with the added bonus that you can access it from your laptop.

The general definition is that a progressive web app should have the following attributes:

  • Discoverable in search engines

  • Linkable through a URL

  • Connectivity-independent: It can be accessed with low internet or offline

  • App-like: built off-of the style of a native app

  • Safer: smaller network so a safer environment

  • Responsive: Can be accessed in any form e.g. laptop, tablet or phone

What are some examples?

We have put together for examples for you to have a look at. This way you can start getting an idea of what a progressive app should look like and what you can get out of it.


Starbucks has done a brilliant job at designing their progressive web app. As a user, it's easy to use and offers a number of useful features. For example, you are able to purchase a coffee on the web page and pick it up at any store you chose. Also, you can purchase gift card as well. It offers a great customer experience.

starbucks web app


Flipboard is one of the worlds most popular social online magazine. Their web page has features that are app-like such as the ability to like the post. It also has an environment that is similar to a community because in order to get more content you have to sign up and become a member.

Flipboard news feed

Interview with our product team

To help you get a better understand of what a progressive web app is and what are the benefits, I had a chat with a member of our product team.

What is a progressive web app? 

Simply put, instead of accessing your community through an app its through a URL on a desktop. 

What are the benefits of progressive web app?

For the customer, the benefit is that there is a simple URL that they can click on and join the community directly. Also, they can access it from a laptop, mobile, or IPad. Basically, any device where you can type in a URL. This reduces the barrier to entry and makes it more accessible.  For the community manager, using those web URLs means that it can be indexed by a search engine. This means that the content from the progressive web app is exposed and shows up on Google. This means that when individuals search for a keyword in Google, the community may show up, which can help it grow. Say you have a community that is active and shares a lot of content about yoga. If someone searched for it and it came up, they are much more likely to join and become a member. 

PWA vs Native?

The progressive web app is cheaper to build and will also take less time.  Also, it's easier to customise. You don't have to wait on the app store to approve the changes in features. The web app allows instant changes to customisation.  Hopefully all this information has given you a better idea of what a progressive web app is and how it can be the next best thing for your community. If you would like to look into building a native app, then have a look at what Disciple has to offer.