Startup environments are ever-changing, just like technology. This makes building a tech startup one of, if not the most exciting business venture out there. Nevertheless, building a tech startup requires staying on top of things—being informed of every new technology and application out there.

So today I want to focus on progressive apps and how this new way of developing solutions might be a lifesaver for startup founders.

Usual ways to develop your startup software solution

Let’s say we want to offer our solution on mobile. Let’s see what our main options are, and break down how they work in the following table:

Advantages Disadvantages
Classic Native Mobile app
  • Great performance
  • Great user experience
  • More complex to install/update
  • Updates go through Google Play or the App Store, so they take longer to reach users (hours/days)
  • Needs to be developed twice, for each platform (Android-Google-, IOS-Apple-)
  • If we want a website, it will be developed separately.
Hybrid Mobile app
(hybrid or native)
  • Good performance
  • Good user experience
  • We just need to develop one version of the mobile application compatible with Android (Google) and IOS(Apple)
  • Still complex to install/update
  • Updates go through Google Play or the App Store, so they take longer to reach users (hours/days)
  • If we want a website, it will be developed separately.
Responsive website
  • Can be updated at any time
  • The responsive website and the main website will be the same development
  • It’s not a mobile application, just a link to a website. (No notifications…etc)
  • Runs slowly because it loads each page on each click
  • No offline use possible

Pretty straightforward, right? Mind you, that only covers usage and performance-related factors. If you want to know more about their differences, there a lot of Native vs. Hybrid vs. Website comparisons out there. But as you may already know, native apps tend to cost more to develop than hybrid apps, since it has to be done twice with native languages. And money plays a huge role in deciding what to develop for the early stages of your startup.

Introducing progressive apps

That’s where progressive apps come in.

They require a lower investment than an actual app, which is absolutely great for early-stage startups that don’t have much capital at their disposal. Small budget or not, progressive apps are a new building block in the startup business from which many can profit. 

Let’s see how they function and if they are right for you.

How progressive apps work

Progressive apps are basically a web application embedded into an installed app, so it will contain almost nothing but the url of the responsive website it displays. This also means that you won’t have to develop the same thing multiple times for different platforms, since the mobile application (IOS/Android) and the website will use the same developed software.

Depending on how your developer configures the progressive application, after installing it on mobile, it will either download the entire app right when you open it, or display it screen by screen, click by click, just like you would browsing through a website. This might take longer to load than a native app at first. But once a screen has been downloaded, it is stored so it becomes faster to use. If there’s something to update, the deployment will be instant, just like a web application.

When is it relevant to use a progressive app?

I want to be as transparent as possible here: Progressive apps are by no means “magical solutions”. You can take a look at the pros and cons in the table below.

Advantages Disadvantages
Progressive Application
  • It’s a real mobile application compatible with IOS(Apple) and Android(Google)
  • It can be updated at any time without google or Apple store deployment
  • The responsive website, the main website and the mobile application will be the same development
  • The application will load screens from the server, at the rate the user explores it. So it will be quite slow, like a responsive website.
  • The offline mode will be very limited

Nevertheless, if you have a small budget, this truly is a great economical option for a first version. I would encourage you to use it for six months to a year, at which point—with a solid user base—you should redevelop into something more permanent.

If you’re interested in more content regarding startup tech management and how to get started, feel free to check out the AskMyCTO videos and full courses at myCTOfriend.co, or if you’d like me as your consulting CTO, you can get your first FREE session here.

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