Jan 27, 2022

Main Differences Between Progressive Web Apps and Responsive Web Apps That You Need to Know

Since we’ve all practically started living on smartphones, companies need to adapt to the current environment and provide their audiences with the most convenient ways to interact and receive unique services. Traditional websites are becoming less and less satisfying to user needs, so today we're going to talk about two technologies trends: responsive web apps vs. progressive web apps. They are quite similar, but they also have significant differences. Our article aims to help you structure your knowledge and shelve key aspects.

Key Features of Progressive Web Apps vs. Responsive Web Apps

PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) are basically websites that look and provide the functionality of a native mobile app. They are built using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Such technology does not require separate downloads from app stores, and they work with poor connection quality or even offline. Today, Twitter, Pinterest, and The Washington Post have ditched their native apps in favor of useful PWAs, and many other businesses have benefited from similar shifts. We talked about this in another article: WHICH PROGRESSIVE WEB APP FEATURES ARE ESSENTIAL FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

RWAs (Responsive Web Apps) refer to responsive websites that can be accessed from both desktop and mobile devices. The main goal here is to build functionality into responsive web design. As examples, we can recall GitHub, Dropbox, etc.

In terms of functionality, RWAs and PWAs are somewhat similar, but there are still differences. PWAs are still capable of more than RWAs. Let's take a look at the main differences between progressive web apps vs. responsive web apps in the table.

Loading SpeedPWAs are as fast as native apps. Thanks to an app shell, the code will be cached on your device after the first load.Loading and processing data on a mobile device will take much longer.
AdaptabilityIndependent of the devices and platforms.You need to write different code for various platforms.
SecurityPWAs are reliably protected through the use of the HTTPS protocol.While an RWA might be as secure as a PWA, responsive websites are not required to use secure protocols.
Home screen iconIt has a clickable icon just like a native app.The ability to add an app icon to the home screen is absent here.
Push NotificationsOnce the PWA is opened, the user will be prompted to enable unique push notifications.Does not provide users with this option

Differences between progressive web apps vs. responsive web applications

Benefits of Developing Progressive Web Apps

According to the latest survey, 87% of marketers consider PWAs an improved version of web applications. Let's talk in more detail about the main benefits of progressive web apps.

Browser, Device, and Network Independence

PWAs allow you to provide users with functionality and content regardless of the browser, the quality of the connection (or lack thereof), or the characteristics of the device on which the application is opened. This significantly reduces the cost of their development, since one version of the app is absolutely universal.

Better Engagement 

Users get the best experience because they take advantage of the native app and website in the same technology. But, at the same time, it is much easier for them to install PWAs. This contributes to a high level of user engagement and satisfaction.

Automatic Updates and Push Notifications

PWAs do not bother users with notifications and requests to install updates. Instead, everything happens automatically. At the same time, the developer team does not need to go through standard approval procedures in app stores, as is the case with native applications. And the ability to deliver push notifications helps inform and motivate users to interact more with the service.

Web Application Security

The HTTPS protocol protects PWAs from fraudulent interference in transactions, along with securing the personal data of users and other information sensitive to publicity.

Convenient Search and Installation

Since a PWA installation bypasses app stores, it eases the user's journey and removes the dependence of developers and app owners on store rules.

Benefits of Developing Responsive Web Apps

Let's say right away that, in terms of the number of advantages in the battle of a PWA vs. responsive web apps, the first one wins. But let's not overlook the benefits of responsive web apps.

Convenient Web Interface

The user-friendly RWA web interface adapts to all screens, be it a smartphone or a plasma display with a huge diagonal. Obviously, this makes your website as accessible as possible.

Good SEO Opportunities

Since RWAs are websites, they are indexed by search engines, which means they provide opportunities for proper work with content and its optimization. And it should be noted that this is also true for PWAs.

And Finally, Who Is the Winner?

There is no definite answer. You should make a decision based on the requirements of your business and the characteristics of your audience. If you are interested in offering users a smooth mobile experience, progressive web apps are probably the way to go. If you primarily want to improve the speed and accessibility of your website, then a responsive web application is a good option.

Consider Gearheart for Developing Any Kind of Web Application

Since we have extensive experience in building various applications for different areas of business, you can feel free to contact us for advice. We have described some of our projects in our portfolio, such as an app for medical labs or a media monitoring system. We’ve tried to describe the cases in such a way that you can understand both the technologies used and our approach to the process. So, if you are looking for an outsourcing team, this information might come in handy. Of course, we are ready to talk about our capabilities in a live conversation. For this, you just need to send us a message through the website form.



1. What are the main differences between progressive web apps vs. responsive web apps? 

PWAs can be thought of as a more advanced form of RWAs. The main difference is that PWAs are not just responsive; they provide the experience of using an application while remaining a website.

2. Is an RWA good for my business?

All the main benefits of responsive web apps lie in responsive design. If it is enough for your audience to have a positive experience from interacting only with the interface without additional functionality, then this technology will certainly suit you.

3. How can I get more information on a PWA vs. responsive web applications?

Feel free to contact us via our website. We will schedule a call, and our experts will help you figure out which type of application is best for your business.

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