Today, web applications are so common, that they are practically unnoticeable. It’s hard to believe that only 20 years ago, the Internet looked completely different – it was full of very static apps that are not as visually attractive as they are today. Web applications became more interactive and friendly around 2005 (thanks to Ajax) and they totally revolutionized the Web’s use. With our web apps, we’re able to communicate with clients, share data, and sell products with practically limitless functionality.
Practically every company needs a quick method to effectively connect with users on as many platforms as possible. Mobile apps often have to double the cost because of the need to create two separate apps for iOS and Android but luckily, web app technologies are now equally engaging and attractive. It’s a perfect solution for a wide range of successful services from entertainment and media to education and banking.
What is a web application?
On the front-end, the code languages and tools that developers use are not much different from those used in the past. Of course, tools have been greatly improved over the years, and their users have created very extensive communities that support each other in exploring their capabilities. The most reliable front-end tools for developing web applications are considered to be:
HTM, or HyperText Markup Language, is a tag language used to formulate an HTML document (displayed as browser language) and to structure the content it contains, such as headings, paragraphs, and embedded graphics.
It is a language that is used to style an HTML document, matching it with colors, backgrounds, fonts, and column sizes that are integral features of web pages and applications.
The back-end is the server-side of development that focuses mostly on the functionality of a web application. It’s typically referred to as the server and users are unable to access the application’s backend. Back-end development consists of several key components such as:
Java, Python, Ruby, and PHP are currently the most popular back-end languages. In addition, there are web frameworks such as Django and Ruby on Rails, which simplify software development a lot. These languages and tools must support the functionality of the web application, which is not visible at first sight but determines the good performance of the whole mechanism.
Using Structured Query Language (SQL), back-end developers are able to communicate with a database. The language has many extensions such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle. With these capabilities, programmers can display data of interest, modify it or optimize it. It is a relatively easy language to learn, even for those who have not previously interacted with databases.
An API (application programming interface), is a set of rules for transferring data between applications. They do not have their own specific language. Back-end developers usually make them available to others. APIs are used to facilitate the connection between other software systems. This allows companies to integrate their systems smoothly with services provided by other companies, without any need to develop their own solutions from scratch.
Web application vs. website
A web application is different from a website, but these are differences that are not obvious to all. The most illustrative way to put it is that a website only gives information while a web application allows users to interact in various ways.
Any website that allows users to perform tasks can already be called an application.
Types of web applications
It is common to specify 5 types of web applications:
- Static web applications – is a site, usually code in HTML, which doesn’t require the creation of databases, and its task is just to display information. It’s simple to set up, a basic type of site.
- Dynamic web applications – are those with which you can interact in any way, such as logging in or leaving a comment. They are certainly more complex to implement and configure, however, it provides much more capabilities than static web applications.
- E-commerce applications – as the name suggests, these are applications used in e-commerce areas. They allow you to place an order and also manage transactions, so they require much more sophisticated technology because they confront a variety of user needs all the time.
- Portal web applications – they allow personal access and user-oriented navigation based on customer needs. Examples include profiles of customers, patients, and educational institutions.
- Progressive web apps (PWAs) – known as cross-platform web apps that use the latest browser APIs, features, and progressive upgrade methods to offer an environment similar to a native mobile app.
What does creating a web application look like?
In fact, the modern stages of developing a web application are not too different from the stages of developing any other software, and can be summarized in the following steps:
Think well, and define your idea. Consider who will use your web application and what expectations they will have. It’s important to be able to define as much detail as possible about your app idea, predict user behavior, and know the conditions the app must meet to be successful.
Outsource the work
A well-prepared plan of operations is the key to a successful project. By already knowing what requirements your application should fulfill, you will need to determine the possibilities and match them with your time needs and budget. It’s a good idea to find your development partner first. Some people believe that they can make the app themselves or that they can hire an amateur student to do so. But it’s not a great idea. Be mindful that you want to build an IT partnership and technology selection is the key.
Basic tools are enough to build a prototype. This is the moment to stretch out the individual pages of your web application to better understand what the end result will look like. This is also the moment to verify the initial assumptions of functionality and develop them! You can create a prototype, which will show how the app will ultimately be built, or an MVP that is a Minimum Viable Product, which will be a small version of the product that includes its key features.
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Once the prototype is ready, you can present it to potential users and gather first feedback. It is worth taking tests on the widest possible group, similar to the assumptions of your target audience. The honest opinion of people who are experiencing the web application for the first time will certainly positively influence the application’s usability and plan further improvements.
At this stage, you should already have clarified what tools you should use to build a web application. Consider which front-end and back-end frameworks and technologies can meet the requirements of your project and let’s begin!
Before deploying a web application, make sure the product is working as planned and run load tests on environments to see how it responds to traffic. In fact, testing should be done a little bit at every stage of building the application. Bugs are normal however, keep in mind that the later you run the tests, the more costs modifications can generate.
Just like a website, a web application must be hosted on a server. To implement your product, you need to buy a domain and a cloud hosting provider. Fortunately, this doesn’t take much time! Once you’ve done that, congratulations – you can launch your application!
This may be just the beginning!
Implementing a web application, even if pleasant and very rewarding, is just the beginning of a new phase in your business! In order to keep users engaged with your product, you need to constantly be aware of their needs and respond to them quickly. Perhaps in some time, you will decide to expand your application with new additions. If you have more questions about web application development contact us and let us advise you on the best solutions for you!