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Insights / Created August 2019

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps (PWA's) are websites that have native app characteristics.

What do you mean by “characteristics”? I hear you asking, well luckily you asked the only Google certified PWA agency in Australia,.

Let's start by going back to the dawn of the app store, 2008. How we were amazed, a new world was opened to us. WOW, you could have a phone, a GPS and an email client all in one.... double WOW. And to top it off, if you were patient enough and willing to learn a new language, you could also submit your own app to the almighty Apple (if their team deemed it appropriate and not in any way in competition to their own first party apps). Everyone flipped their lids! 

'Let's build a mobile app',
'I'm sure our web developers can extend their knowledge to allow for mobile app development',
'Lets build an accompanying app to our website',
'Oh shit, we need to employ a dedicated iOS developer',
'Maybe we will just make a responsive site',
'WTF is mobile first'

We were all basically following Charlie to candy mountain.

Browsing through design images on a tablet


Now let's jump to 2018, most devices have a decent web browser installed by default, and these browsers are powerful. To top it off browsers update themselves, hybrid apps are quite common, and the divide between 'Native' and 'Web' apps is starting to blur. The web world, especially the front-end, has changed. We aren't just 'slicing' design files and plugging in bootstrap anymore. We are bridging this gap. So why not utilise these powers and create something amazing?

At its core, a PWA is a responsive website that can be used offline. In order to be served to the offline user, the browser is told when and what assets to cache. So, then when our trustworthy friends at Telstra decide to restart their Pentium 3's that run the country’s internet, our browsers will already know where to go to get the latest assets. We here at Elephants Can Dance build PWA's with an app-minded approach, and not a 'cache-everything' mentality. We make decisions on to what assets to cache and what to display when the network drops out.

PWA's also open up the possibility for browser push notifications, yea I know they can be annoying if not done correctly, but we believe that if they are done the right way a push notification can become an essential part of a users journey.

PWA's are an extension to a web experience, and to us at Elephants Can Dance, PWA's also mean 'doing the right thing' and implementing best practices, as well as opening up possibilities to the user that are not natively available through their web browser.


James Whittingham, Experience Director