Web App Development: A High Level View Into All Things Web App Related

Web App Development: A High Level View Into All Things Web App Related

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So, you’ve heard of the term “web app development” and you aren’t exactly sure what it means. It sounds a little like website development that you are familiar with, but it also sounds like mobile app development. Is it a combination of the two?

 

The answer is not really.

 

Web apps aren’t websites. Websites are static sites that people visit online. Web apps also aren’t mobile apps. While they are applications, they’re not meant to be used by mobile devices. Web app development is related to mobile app development though, in the sense that web apps are developed to perform and act in similar ways to mobile apps.

 

You’ve landed on this page because you’re interested in learning more about web apps and web app development. Here you will learn what web apps and web app development are, how they are used, and what they are designed and created to do. So, let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What is Web Application Development?

Web application development is the collection or pattern of steps taken by developers to build a web application.

 

The process determines how the web application will interact with a browser to achieve the desired results. This web application development process involves deciding what problem the web app will be designed to solve, creating a mockup of the solution, figuring out how the app will engage with users, choosing a tool or framework, and in the end, building the web application and testing it with users to work out any bugs.

What is a Web Application?

A web application, commonly known as a web app, is an interactive application built using web development technology that users access through their web browsers like Safari, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.

 

Web apps have a front-end and back-end that need to be developed. The front-end is developed using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The back-end is developed using server-side languages like Ruby or Python. Web apps share many characteristics with websites and to the casual user, web apps look just like websites.

 

It is how they operate on any device that makes web apps different from websites.

Web Applications vs. Websites

While web applications and websites share many characteristics, the primary difference is how users interact with them. Users interact with web apps by inputting information which includes creating, reading, updating, and deleting data.

 

As a comparison, web visitors use websites for the site’s output which includes reading news, looking at marketing information, finding answers to questions, viewing maps, etc.

Progressive Web Applications (PWA)

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are a particular type of web application that is somewhat similar to a mobile app. These PWAs work when you download them to your device (similar to smartphone apps), store them on your device’s home screen and access them.

 

Progressive web apps often use technologies to send you push notifications, manifests, or service workers. Because you download and store them on your device, PWAs can be used when you’re offline.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Web Applications?

A web app has both advantages and disadvantages to use. A web app is frequently used when businesses want to interact with users without sacrificing employee labor hours or building a mobile application.

 

But, before you jump in with both feet and start building a web app, you should weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

Web App Advantages

1. High Portability

Accessing a web app is easy from any type of device, including both desktop and mobile. Web apps work across platforms to provide multi-platform usage. They work on any browser as long as you have a connection to the internet. This makes them easy to be shared.

2. Convenient

You don’t need to download or install a web app. If you’re using a PWA, downloading and installing it takes minimal time and space compared to a native application.

 

While smartphones have been increasing their storage space as new ones come out allowing space to download more apps, some people still don’t like having a lot of apps on their mobile devices.

 

Another advantage of a web app is that you don’t have to deal with constant updates like you do with mobile apps.

3. Easier, Less Costly to Develop

If you want to develop a mobile app, you will need developers for each platform you offer it on, Apple Store and Google Play. Each platform may need a separate team to develop your app.

 

You also need a separate group of developers for building your website. So if you want to have a website and mobile app on both platforms, you’ll need three teams to develop them.

 

Creating a web app circumvents all of this because you are using the same codebase as your website.

Web App Advantages

1. Reduced Speed

Speed is a factor in how you rank in search engine results pages (SERPs), and how users experience (UX) your website or web app.

 

Unfortunately, web apps operate more slowly than an application hosted on a local server. PWAs can mitigate this issue somewhat, but not conclusively. As computers and mobile devices gain in storage space, and we move to 5G, reduced speed might no longer be an issue.

2. Decreased Access

Since web apps need access to the internet to perform, you have decreased access. If you’re in a region with no internet or slow internet, you either can’t connect at all or your connection is slow when trying to access your web app.

3. Limited Functionality

Using native app technology will give you better performance and functionality than non-native tech. Web apps aren’t native, so they have reduced capacity to integrate and work well with your device hardware and operating system.

 

Because different brand devices work in different ways, there’s always a possibility that your web app won’t work equally well with all brand specifications.

Our Process for Developing Web Applications

There are several steps to designing and developing a new web application.

1. Define Your Problem

This may sound simple, but you can’t skip this step. Without knowing what the problem is that you need to resolve, you have no direction to pursue.

2. Plan the Workflow

Once you’ve decided on the best resolution to your problem, the next step is to map out the workflow of your web app. What does the web app need to do to solve your problem?

3. Prototype Your Web App

The third step is to create a prototype of your web app, called a wireframe. This is like a “rough draft” to see if it will work correctly.

 

The wireframe is the tool you use to communicate the solution to the target user.

4. Validate Your Prototype

Now that you have a working prototype, it’s time to see if your target users like the way it works. Ask them to try it out and return with feedback. This process is repeated until your target users are happy with the wireframe.

5. Choose Your Platform

You may already know what platform you’ll use to build your web app. But, if you don’t know this is the time to select it. Make sure the platform you choose is the best fit for the app you are building.

6. Build Your App

  • Database – Decide on the data to store in your database. Decide on data types. Then build the database.

 

  • Front-end – There’s a good chance you’ll build the front-end and back-end simultaneously. The front-end will mirror the wireframe that you validated with your users. The front-end uses HTML, CSS, and JS to run.

 

  • Back-end – The back-end is the most challenging part of web development. The most important function of the back-end is to provide HTTP endpoints for your front-end, authorization, authenticate users, and serve the front-end.

7. Test Your App

You’ve learned how to build a web application. Now, it’s time to try it out. Before you give it to your potential users, you need to test it out. While regular users will test it for you, it’s best to work out as many bugs as you can before you launch it.

 

Testing can be done automatically or manually. Things you should test are the app’s functionality, compatibility, usability, performance, and security.

8. Host & Launch Your Web App

Now that your web app is ready to go, you need to host and launch it. Hosting means you need to buy a domain and select a cloud hosting provider for it.

 

Once you’ve secured a domain and hosting provider, it’s time to move your web app from your computer and deploy it onto the cloud. To do this, you need to use a continuous integration (CI) tool.

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The Scope of Our Web App Development Services

QCKBOT has a range of web app development services to help you build your own custom application.

Web Development Project Planning

We approach web development in the same way we approach mobile development – by beginning and ending with the user.

 

We work with you to determine the best project plan for your desired solution.

UX & UI Design

We can bring the knowledge and experience we’ve gained from designing hundreds of apps to refine your product – or design a new one from scratch.

Web App Development

Our iterative design process focuses on validation and ensures that you avoid unnecessary features and costs, ending with a beautiful web app built to satisfy users.

Quality Assurance

Our testing solutions help reduce costs, increase efficiency, and guarantee high performance for your web app development.

 

QA provides control over your product’s lifecycle by monitoring development stages and receiving product quality information.

Integration

Our goal is to develop a web app that will integrate smoothly with your computer system and provide users with a high-quality interface and superb user experience. We want to make your job easier.

24/7 Support

QCKBOT provides customer support 24/7 so we can provide immediate support as soon as you contact us. That way you can get back to work with your problems resolved and peace of mind restored.

Optimization & Evolution

We can help you optimize your web application for easier use, and focus on your primary solution. We can also work with you to take your app development process to the next stage whenever you’re ready to take that step.

Examples of Web Applications

You’re probably already familiar with web applications, and may not even realize it. Web applications aren’t new, but the development of mobile has spurred a renewed focus on web apps.

Google Docs

Google Docs is one of the most highly-used web applications and was one of the first to allow teams to collaborate on one document. The Google Docs app has continued to evolve over the years, making it still a popular way to create documents to share with a group.

Salesforce

Salesforce is an established and popular customer relationship management (CRM) tool. It is used to nurture leads and walk them through the sales or marketing funnel.

 

Note: Salesforce is probably the most well-known, but all CRMs are web apps.

Dropbox

Dropbox started out as a site to store and share images. It has evolved to be a versatile web app that you can store, sync, and share a variety of file types for personal or business use. It’s one way the average user can access the cloud.

Norton

Norton was one of the first security apps created to secure personal and business computer files. And though it has evolved to stay current with new security attacks and internet software development, it offers essentially the same service that it started with.

 

The technology has expanded quite a bit, but Norton’s purpose has stayed the same, to protect their customers.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is another well-known app that started out as an email marketing app. The app facilitated staying in touch with your email mailing list. Mailchimp is still an email marketing app, but the company has expanded to transactional email, websites, social media posts, and automation.

Types of Web Applications

Web applications are custom-made for each client, therefore they have a wide range of functions. However, you can still take all of the web apps and break them down into three main categories – client-side, server-side, and single-page applications.

Client-Side Web Apps

The focus of client-side web apps is the user interface (UI), making them dominant in front-end development. Because of this, they prioritize UX and generate high-performance levels.

 

With client-side web apps, data and functions are dynamically loaded when you start up the app. These apps focus on high-speed, minimal buffering, and highly responsive content.

Server-Side Web Apps

Server-side web apps help with functions at the back-end like building databases, application programming interfaces (API), servers, and any other back-end processes occurring in an application.

 

These web apps also display content or UIs. Like client-side apps, server-side apps focus their most dynamic code on the web server.

 

One use is server-side rendering (SSR) in partnership with static content because of the time it takes for your web browser to get a reply from the server.

 

Server-side web apps tend to be very secure and offer more browser capability than many client-side apps.

Single-Page Apps

A single-page application (SPA) is different from a multiple-page application when loading new pages only when a link is clicked. SPAs actually have desirable advantages over both server-side and client-side apps.

 

SPAs work only on a single webpage. They often deploy infinite scroll mechanisms allowing a page to display all its content.

 

Server-side rendering is associated with long wait times, and SPAs can improve speed by only fetching the data necessary each time. This means the entire page doesn’t need to reload when executing an action or fetching new data.

Web App Frameworks & Other Web Technologies

Your organization will need both the right front-end and back-end tools for full-stack web app development. These web technologies and frameworks will help you when you build your custom web application.

Front-End Tools

Front-end tools for web app development will seem pretty familiar. They are the same ones that have been used for over 20 years. But, of course, they have evolved and upgraded as technology has changed.

1. JavaScript

JavaScript is the first of three programming languages used for web software development including web app development. It is the language that is used for coding dynamic features in any website. According to Mozilla,

 

JavaScript is a scripting or programming language that allows you to implement complex features on web pages — every time a web page does more than just sit there and display static information for you to look at — displaying timely content updates, interactive maps, animated 2D/3D graphics, scrolling video jukeboxes, etc. — you can bet that JavaScript is probably involved.

 

Since JavaScript came into being in 1995, the language has grown and expanded, proving its viability as technology continues to advance and develop.

2. HTML

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the second basic building block for web apps. It is used to define the structure and meaning of web content.

 

Mozilla says:

 

“Hypertext” refers to links that connect web pages to one another, either within a single website or between websites. Links are a fundamental aspect of the Web. By uploading content to the Internet and linking it to pages created by other people, you become an active participant in the World Wide Web.

 

HTML code describes to a web page how to display text, images, audio, and video. HTML elements can be recognized by the “<” and “>” characters. 

 

Note: If you’re on a computer, you can right-click on any webpage, then click “view page source” and you will see the HTML code.

3. CSS

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a language used to describe the style and look of any document written in XML or HTML. CSS describes how elements of a web page or web app should render on screen or any other media.

 

Mozilla says:

 

CSS is among the core languages of the open web and is standardized across Web browsers according to W3C specifications.

 

CSS describes the fonts, layouts, and colors that you see on the web.

Back-End Tools

Developing the back-end of web apps requires a different group of web technologies than the front-end. These components include databases, programming, web servers, and APIs.

1. Programming Languages

Programming languages used in back-end or server-side applications direct how a web application functions behind the scenes.

 

Back-end development may include working with databases that receive and send data from one place to another, managing security authentications and user connections, and powering the app to perform its tasks.

 

Popular back-end languages include PHP, Python, Java, and Ruby. Tech companies can use a range of languages for different tasks if they feel that one language works best in specific software development situations.

 

Some back-end languages are used on frameworks to make software development simpler. Two of these languages are Ruby on Rails and Django.

 

2. Databases

Where do you store the data for your web application? Back-end developers use some tried and true query languages to request and retrieve data for web development.

 

The most used query language for web developers is Structured Query Language (SQL). SQL has a range of versions and extensions that offer more core functionality like Oracle, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.

3. Servers

Network requests go through servers. Using the connection of a web app, a server will retrieve information based on a client request, then serves the client (whoever sent the request) with a response.

 

There isn’t a particular server language, but the technologies that are used for back-end development need to have a good relationship with their servers.

 

Some of these web servers include Nginx, Apache, and Internet Information Services (IIS).

4. APIs

AWS says:

 

APIs are mechanisms that enable two software components to communicate with each other using a set of definitions and protocols. For example, the weather bureau’s software system contains daily weather data. The weather app on your phone “talks” to this system via APIs and shows you daily weather updates on your phone.

 

An API integration facilitates PayPal’s connection with eBay, for example, allowing them to work together. APIs don’t have their own language. Developers use other back-end technologies to create APIs, and then share them publicly or use them solely for their own organization.

Web App Development Conclusion

We hope this resource page has answered the basic questions you have about web app development. We would love to hear from you to discuss your specific needs and discover if a web application is the right software solution for your business. Contact us to learn more about web application development.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a web application?

A web application is an app that you can interact with that uses web development tech for users to access online.

What's the difference between a web app and a website?

The difference between a website and a web app is that traditional websites are primarily for finding information, while web applications give you the ability to interact similarly to mobile apps.

What are progressive web apps?

A progressive web app (PWA) combines features of hybrid and native applications. PWAs are installed and accessed immediately like a mobile application, but still have a website’s general characteristics.

What are single-page applications?

Single-page apps (SPA) use dynamic routing so users don’t have to refresh or go to another web page to load all the available content for that page.

What is needed for web app development?

Many web apps are written in JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5. Development starts a short life cycle with a small team. Then later it expands for front-end development.

Is it easier to build a web app or mobile app?

Web apps are easier to build than mobile apps. The native app development process is much more expensive and takes longer to build. In addition, you need to build an app for each platform your app is available on.

Robert Battle CPA

Robert Battle CPA

Founder of QCKBOT and data analyst extraordinaire. Looking for trends and testing theories led this financial guru into the world of SEO. Empowered by the ability to take businesses to the next level through organic search, he's on a mission to upend traditional B2B consulting via data-driven high-impact results.

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