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from Felix

Progressive web apps: an app without an app

Is this a website or an app? This is one way of describing recent media developments, as the boundaries between app and website are becoming increasingly blurred. Under the premise of “mobile first”, platforms are increasingly adapting to user behavior, as most people now use online services on their smartphones wherever they go. The Progressive Web App (PWA) offers a way to address your own target group even better.

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What is a progressive web app?
Many websites are already responsive, i.e. they adapt to the respective end device. A progressive web app is when the website can also be accessed via an icon on the smartphone’s home screen, as with a native app, when the content is also displayed in offline mode and when it communicates directly via push messages that appear on the phone’s lock screen. This means that a PWA has the features of a standard (native) app, but without actually being an app.

App features without an app
The main advantages are costs and accessibility. This is because a PWA can be implemented at a fraction of the cost of a native app, it does not need to be downloaded by users from an app store – and the content offered can still be found via a standard Google search. Because the content comes from the web, PWAs require much less storage space on the end device. Offline content can be retrieved via improved caching, i.e. the temporary storage of data. As soon as you emerge from the dead zone, the page updates itself.

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Web Push
The possibility of push messages in particular has really taken off recently. What was previously only possible for native apps is now commonplace for a large number of websites via web push: we allow website operators to push their content directly to our smartphone screen via the many pop-up opt-in windows. We deactivate the push subscriptions in the settings in case it gets too much for us.


Push messages can be implemented with various providers and sent to thousands of smartphones and desktops at the desired time. If you use them correctly and gain the attention of your subscribers in the long term, you can sustainably increase your access figures. This is because the repeated reminder of the website increases its presence without users having to actively visit it. Users also choose for themselves whose push messages they would like to receive. This automatically creates a target group that is receptive to the content. This points the way towards increasing personalization and user-oriented web design.

User behavior > Technology
What works and what doesn’t – this is not determined by the technical conditions, as these can always be changed. Rather, the natural user behavior is decisive. While Android got on board with progressive web apps quite early on, Apple has so far resisted them due to its own large market for native apps. PWAs are excluded from the App Store and Apple’s Safari browser does not support them adequately.
Admittedly, shopping for native apps has simply become established among users and a PWA must also be well implemented in order to convince users.

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We have tested the Progressive Web App model ourselves on our family portal
Germany’s largest ecologically oriented online platform for expectant and young parents. Since October 2019, we have been pushing current articles, competitions and videos there. Just five weeks after implementing Web Push, had already reached the 10,000 subscriber mark. An icon for is also available on the smartphone home screen.


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