The first breakpoint that has completely changed the entire web application development services was when Ajax got introduced. It allowed building more powerful and more dynamic web application development pages. Since then it has globally impacted and affected technologies worldwide changing the industry from upside down.
Now pretty much every business company, starting from the very small till the enterprise ones has their web applications development tools and services. Microsoft, Facebook, Instagram, or any other popular brand will have its piece of a digital product like that.
The 2 core things that attract so many people are the individual experience that resembles mobile app one and the simplicity of utilization. This also does spark an interest for lots of people who are constantly concerning themselves with the question of custom web application development.
How will this web app development guide help me?
As lots of tech-savvy and non-tech savvy people know, the digital world of web applications is constantly dynamic. For some, it is considered as some kind of “dark art” forbidden for anyone. But this statement is completely wrong and only makes web application development less approachable, and discourages many who want to start implementing it.
We hope to shed some light on web application development and provide you with a concrete level of understanding. Where you will stand comfortably among developers and create your web application. Developers, entrepreneurs, technical product managers, teachers, or any technical marketers will greatly benefit from this guide. You'll learn what web application development is, how it functions, and what steps you'll need to take to create a web app.
What is a web application?
Just as any person out there who wants to access the Internet and perform any remote actions, we use browsers to access any online resources. And exactly these kinds of online resources are called web applications. In short, any kind of online service that gains access through a web browser is a web application. It is typically launched on a remote Linux server with some kind of server-client backend software.
What is web application development?
Web application development is a process of creating a specific Internet platform or application that utilizes a server-client programming model. In general, the process of creating a web app consists of the following steps: discovery of the business idea that solves the audience’s problem, creating design spreadsheets, choosing a tech stack, development, testing, and deployment.
What are the benefits of web application development?
Web application development is a very crucial and integral part of anyone’s business since it directly represents the product portfolio and allows one to grasp the attention on it. Plus it is a very cost-effective solution for lots of entrepreneurs to reach out to their customers via any platform.
If you look at the custom web application development from another perspective, then there are some other benefits here too. First of all, you don’t need to develop native mobile apps, since web apps can reach them through browsers. And secondly, since you don’t need to do that, you’ll cut the unnecessary time and expenses on irrelevant digital products.
Even though web and mobile application development are very relevant to each other, having a web app is your priority. As it can significantly improve your current business traction, brand awareness, showcase your business ideology, and secure the top position in the chosen target market.
Web application development differences
There is quite a lot of debate on the topic of what’s so different about web application development and other digital products. It does not entirely have that much of a difference, but at the same time, it has some certain pros and cons points. Therefore, here we would like to compare websites and mobile apps vs web application development.
Web application development vs Website
It is quite a good question for a regular user to raise and ask a developer what’s the core difference between a web app and a website. They do look the same and feel the same way, so it may confuse some users. However, the real difference is not that distant and is quite obvious.
If you are talking about the website, what is the first thing that may pop up in your head? Correct, it’s information! A common user is heading towards a website to gain some knowledge, read articles, view some marketing insight tips, and so on. But the user cannot directly interact with it, since it is completely static-filled with relevant information.
On the other hand, if you are talking about the web application it is a dynamic platform that allows lots of users to directly interact with it. It doesn’t certainly mean that there is no information whatsoever. But rather the interactive element that allows you to manipulate and interact with web applications through the input fields.
Web application development vs Mobile Apps
Web applications can be used on any computer that has a browser, whether it's a laptop or a mobile device. So which one is better? A native mobile application or web application?
Native mobile apps are developed and designed exclusively for Android or iOS devices. They must be downloaded and installed from an app store on your smartphone. Even though they provide a highly customized experience, they are typically expensive to develop and they take up space on your mobile.
Web applications, on the other hand, can be accessed via any browser and can be used on any smartphone. They don't take up any space on the computer, and, more importantly, developing a web app is more cost-effective and feasible.
Types of web applications
To get a grasp of how the different kinds of web application development services are operating, let's examine the different types of things they implement. All web apps can be categorized based on what they do and how they look and are typically divided into five types, each with its own set of nuances and characteristics.
Static Web Applications
Because of the static web app nature and lack of flexibility, they present the same information for every visitor as a collection of static web pages. These web apps are constructed using HTML and CSS and do not interact directly with the users. Since the pages are generated on the server end during the web application development. So there is no personalization when it comes to users.
Static web application pages are also very hard to modify or update. For any changes to show up, you would have to load the page again. With everything mentioned just now, static web application development is still in trend?
Some companies which only need a low-key website that provides key business information and require no user input could utilize a static web application. This type of web application development may be used for quick and economical results by implementing personal portfolios, business contact pages, and some company information pages.
Dynamic web applications
Dynamic web applications, as their name implies, are interactive, both on the server and the client-side. It's a dynamic website and you can enter some information into this web app to get different results. For example, you can search some particular data, create a user profile, post a comment or interact in any other way.
The pages on dynamic web applications do not follow a default display order but are shaped by the client or server-side input. These applications deploy a content management system (CMS) that modifies the contents of the application.
There are a variety of languages including PHP and ASP.Net for building a dynamic web application. Web hosting, databases, and servers are required for these applications. Technically speaking, all apps that are not static web applications are dynamic.
If you're planning to sell or buy anything online, you need a web application development that processes orders and payments. An eCommerce app would be your right choice. This brings the technical complexity of developing an application online to the next level.
Electronic commerce web apps involve much more programming. From maintaining a product database to managing orders, offers and transactions. The creation of such an immersive interface similar to the native app experience. It is also very important for e-commerce web applications to attract more customers, for them to experience a personalized journey of your web app.
Portal Web Apps
A web portal is a type of web application that allows users to log in from a homepage to a secure web app area. For example, credit card payment processes, which are isolated from the main landing page. You can also be on a shopping website or you are required to log into the credit card company web app where you select a credit card to make your payment.
Content Management System or CMS
Even non-technical users can create and update content online with the help of a content management system, or CMS. From a simple blog to a more extensive website, a CMS enables users to keep track of all their assets. So, developing a system that is simple enough for non-technical users to use specialized technologies can be quite useful to cut down your budget and time.
Progressive Web Apps
PWAs (progressive web apps) are more than just a simple web application. A PWA combines all the best features from common web apps and native mobile apps using the latest web application development frameworks and technologies.
These apps act like a live website that you can save to your home screen without any downloads while accessing them with a single click whenever you want. Furthermore, a progressive web app takes advantage of a large ecosystem of plugins, web technologies, and APIs. They do provide an experience that is comparable to the best native apps while being easier, faster, and less expensive to develop.
It was estimated that an average mobile app loses 20% of its users at each stage of its life cycle, from discovery to direct utilization. Users must first locate a native app in the store, download it, complete the onboarding process, and then begin using it. A PWA, on the other hand, functions similarly to a website.
Users can begin using it as soon as they find it, bypassing the need for downloads and onboarding. However, once they choose to add it to their home screen – which only takes a second or two – they will receive push notifications and personalized communication, which will help them stay actively engaged.
Single Page Applications (SPA)
Single Page Application or SPA is a web application that can directly interact with the user. It dynamically rewrites the current web page with new data, instead of reloading your browser multiple times just to load the necessary information. The goal is to reach the same transition as any other native mobile app can do, to gain a similar feeling as if you are utilizing a mobile app.
It is considered a very popular option among many web application developers. A SPA is built with backend and frontend technology. Thus, making it a much more complex technology that provides server and client sides simultaneously. Besides, it works without any browser reloads.
As we have discussed and talked about all kinds of different web applications, now let’s see some of the notable examples that made their way to the top.
Top Web Application Development Examples
There are practically lots of examples that can show you how web application development has grown over the years. However, we want to showcase to you the 4 examples that have a gem and became the ultimate successful examples that most developers want to align to.
A bold entry of a Google product, isn’t it? But Google Docs is indeed a product of web application development. It was introduced in 2012 and has since gained popularity among lots of companies. With it, you can create, edit, write, delete and share your document with anyone else, who has a Google account. And you can edit the same document, on any kind of device you are using. Which is pretty convenient, to say the least.
Just as Google Docs, Evernote was created with one goal in mind and that is to share and record every single idea. Whether it is a list of groceries that you need to buy or a whole project idea that will be soon developed. This web application allows you to also sync with any device that is connected to your main account.
Lastly, we have a very popular web application, known to the whole world due to its accessible and vast list of movies, which is Netflix. For those who are unfamiliar with streaming video platforms, consider it to be similar to an online video store. With Netflix, you can choose whatever movie you want. You can easily pause it and watch it later on any kind of platform you do have. TVs, laptops, tablets, or phones, any kind of device will suffice!
Netflix gives its subscribers the freedom to watch their favorite shows and movies whenever they want, with no restrictions on time or schedules. Furthermore, because Netflix is a cross-platform service that works with all operating systems, it doesn't matter where the user is when he wants to watch some of its content.
Airtable has been called the "Online Excel" many times. It has a user interface that is similar to Excel, but it adds additional layers of functionality to make it a powerful database solution for businesses. Airtable is a large web application with a large user base.
Salesforce is the world's largest enterprise Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider in terms of revenue. Diverse features, causing it to be an incredible representation of web applications, giving it multiple interfaces in form of connecting reports, dashboards, forms, and the capacity to run the application efficiently.
Web Application Development Trends
Already decided to go with the web application development services? Then check this part of our article to find out what’s currently trending. Not only to be on the flow with the technological advancements but also to get the attraction out of it.
Mobile and Web Application Development Optimization
As you’ll be involved in web application development services, it is important to get as much traction as it is possible. For that, you need to optimize your web application for both mobile and web platforms. That way you can get the high SERP Google rank and get to the top of your specific industry inquiries. Making more potential leads come to your application while producing more brand awareness.
And one of the other things that Google prioritizes when it comes to search is the responsiveness websites factor. So, when it comes to sorting out the best possible results in the Google search process, the adaptive layout plays an immense role.
Another interesting web app trend to mention here is the IoT. As the digital world is constantly and dynamically going forward, the number of devices that connect to the global network is getting bigger. Thus, the connection between vast applications and technologies will significantly affect the web application development process.
Right now, it may not be that high, but there are a few examples where your devices are directly connected to the IoT integration. Like Google Home, Alexa or Uber. However, it was estimated that by 2025, more than 75 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. So, be sure to use this type of digital trend and be on the popularity wave.
Ever since chatbots have become a huge thing in 2017, the current years show only more positivity out of it. A lot of companies are preferring to implement virtual assistants on their web application development tools. Like Google Assistant, which is embedded on most Android devices.
The key role of chatbots is hidden within the navigation and management of the consultation purposes that cover different areas. That way the companies can deliver more direct content to them and engage their customers, all of this affects the conversion from a regular user to a potential customer.
Choose your web application development framework
As we’re coming closer to the main point of the web application development process, there is one more important aspect worth mentioning. When you’ll be going through the core stage of your web development, you may question yourself:” What kind of web application development tools should I use?”
That’s a very good and core one. Since with your choice, there are various benefits and disadvantages that you might face. So, knowing them beforehand will help you understand how to manage your web app and deliver your business ideas to the target market.
And as the new dawn of technologies is coming close, it means that there should be a place for discoveries and frameworks to be developed. On the other hand, we have old technologies that are fading distantly in the dark giving a space for the new ones to come forth. But let’s not forget that thanks to them we have new web application development tools.
For that reason, let’s quickly recap them and see what kind of web app technologies gave their places and surely will not be your first choice for developing a web app in 2021. Mainly there are three major branches:
Old Web App Technologies
AJAX is treated as a long-forgotten relic. Right now, to fetch any kind of data straight from the API, you can use JSON or XMLHttpRequest API.
SASS / SCSS
It doesn’t stop there. The list is much longer, but we won’t focus on them. Since the main topic of this section is to define what kind of web stack will be useful for your company in creating and building solid web apps.
Right now, it has more than 90 thousand featured repositories on Github, while more than 70% of vendors on the IT market are looking for React developers. So, it's an amazing programming language whose main advantages are simplicity and universality. It is relatively easy to grasp and a very universal solution for any given digital product.
It has quite a bunch of benefits. For one, you don’t need to install any default compilers. There are also: the ability to transition from library to framework, the ability to manage advanced SPAs, and an excellent balance of readability, maintainability, and code writing.
A direct competitor of React, developed by Google is Angular. It is very suitable and consistent for developing various dynamic web applications that may still utilize HTML language for any static pages. Just like React, Angular is suitable for big and medium scale projects.
When was the last time you used Python in a non-desktop application? Today, Python can also be used for web application development as well. The majority of today's web developers use Python as a replacement for PHP. Python is chosen primarily because it is very advanced, nimble, and as a result easier to learn. Django can provide all backend web application functionalities without any issues.
The backend tools are mostly prioritized for any internal processes that your customers do not need to see. This may be: database information requests, storing procedures, any dynamic actions on the web app platform, etc. Most of the time, when a developer is talking about the backend tools he will usually highlight these three main frameworks.
Node.js is typically considered one of the most popular options for building a solid backend system. At the same time, it was designed to create fast and very lightweight web application development services. Some of the notable and worth mentioning web apps are Paypal, Netflix, and LinkedIn.
This technology is suited for web apps that directly work with input/output and streaming. Other benefits of Node.js include the ability to run software across multiple hosts and the ability to create fast servers.
Ruby or Ruby on Rails is one of the most underrated web application development tools. It has everything that a regular developer needs during the development process. Let’s start by saying that it has a very active and energy-driven community, which can help you get through any kind of error you might encounter.
A large variety of open-source repositories along with top-notch documentation makes the coding process in Ruby very simple. In a matter of several minutes, you can raise CRUD resources that already include security, functionality, and unit testing along with pre-configured databases.
During the recent web application development years, Laravel has strongly gained a supreme position in a lead PHP framework environment. It has a very elegant and expressive language syntax that is relatively easy to understand.
Laravel utilizes the model-view-controller architecture pattern. Laravel comes with several tools easy to use along with some CRUD resources that are very easy to be implemented. It is also suitable for a wide range of web application development services.
Most of the time the choice of picking the right database for your business will mostly be the common ones that every developer is accustomed to. There is the MySQL database, which can be considered to be a leader among web application development tools, due to its simplicity and multifunctionality.
PostgreSQL may be your second option, as it is very similar to MySQL. It’s also free and is mostly configured to the UNIX-based servers, which you’re going to be utilizing most of the time.
If you are developing something really big or your company has been sufficiently grown in size, then there is MongoDB. Which is the complete opposite of the SQL language. It may be a little complex to get accustomed to this kind of technology, but it can be highly beneficial. As it allows you to handle large volumes of data and take advantage of the cloud technologies.
The process of web application development
Now that you know what web apps are and why web app development is so important, it's time to get down to business and figure out the contents of a custom web application development. When it comes to web app frameworks, programming languages, and libraries, you have several great options to choose from, which we’ll go over shortly.
At first, you must complete a series of steps that will help you understand what problem you want to solve with your app, who your target audience is, and so on. To put it all into perspective, here's a step-by-step tutorial for learning web application development.
Form a solid business idea
You begin by defining a concept for a web application that solves a problem. The best apps are born out of the desire to solve problems that you or your target audience regularly. Your idea doesn’t need to be ground-breaking or unprecedented.
It should have the potential to be a better version of something that already exists. What matters is it must be a substantial improvement of an already created product idea. You might be able to come up with a way to do something better, faster, easier, or cheaper than anyone else.
Research your target market
The key to researching your competitors and customers is to conduct thorough research. If a similar product already exists in the market, gather its data that can assist you in making your concept better. You can research similar businesses by using websites like Betalist and Product Hunt, which will give you access to competitors' applications. To make a proper competitive analysis, you should include the following aspects:
- Information about the product
- User information and demographics.
- Information about companies and brands.
These tools will help you to gather vital product information that will aid in the development of a unique selling proposition. You can use market research and search engine optimization (SEO) tools to uncover trends or produce small-scale pilot programs to gain an understanding of a similar basic business model. More startups are constantly proving that their hypothesis is correct, and is used for the initial validation process, as an advertising page.
For example, many industry leaders began their careers by making a large name for themselves as MVP. For example, you can use the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) method to test your product. You might want to start developing one early on if you want to know more about your target market.
Define what does your web app do
This is the point at which you separate aspiration from the action. You must identify one core functionality that your app excels at and that is the reason why people should use it.
At this point, you need to put aside all other features that are not relevant for your MVP and focus on one core feature that must be completed. Avoid the temptation to fill your app with all features at once. Consider the basic features your app will require while keeping the key feature in mind. User profiles, passwords, contacts, checkout, payments, a content management system, and more are required.
Produce Web App Sketches
Try to make a simple drawing of your web app before moving on to the web design. And all you need for that is a pencil and a piece of paper. That's all. Sketch out the basic outline of your app, page by page.
You don't have to plan everything down to every single detail right away and know what's going to happen with your web app when interacted. As long as it gives you an idea of the overall approach, you're fine.
Make sure you divide the sections where your buttons, text, images, and sidebars are located before you place them. This is also the time to begin outlining your user journey map, by arranging your app flow on paper before you start drawing it.
For example, from a sign-up page, the user should move to a page where they can create a user profile. Then from that point, they can go to the “products and services” page which can be displayed on one or more individual pages. After that, they can either proceed to an individual product page or a categories page or service page depending on your web app type.
Prototyping and wireframing should be done once you have a clear conceptual representation of your user journey map and a layout of your web application.
Build a Dynamic Prototype & Wireframes
Instead of just producing a drawn image on your computer, create a wireframe. Which is a solid representation of your web application design. If you have designed your app pages with determined widths dimensions, you will know exactly how they should appear.
The next step is to create your first web app prototype. By adding additional interactivity to the produced set of wireframes, they can appear and behave just like the real web app would do. But of course, it will consist of limited functionalities, which is called a prototype.
It is a good idea to start with an MVP at first so that you can use it to test out your idea, rather than building a more comprehensive prototype. You have several different prototyping methods which can help you demonstrate the concept of your idea.
- Adobe XD
Now you are then ready to begin writing the codes and building the business logic for your web app. Back-end development and frontend development can be executed simultaneously or separately, depending on the complexity of your project.
One must bear in mind that when developing the frontend part you need to ensure that it is suitable for responsiveness and usability on all kinds of devices. Consistency is key when it comes to user experience: this means that if a web app is designed well, it should be pleasant and usable with any size or screen width.
This is a general term used to describe the backend of your web application, which includes the database, the server, and your website's actual business logic, which are invisible to the user. Some of the most common actions that you will do during the backend development are:
- Serve requests of the frontend.
- Authorization and authentication when the user tries to log in.
- Create, read and update data.
By this point, you've finished creating the application, you've set up the database server, completed the backend, and API integration. During the development of the entire system, the backend development is the most difficult and daunting.
Web Application Development Validation & Deployment
Your application has been built, developed, and is ready to be launched. Before its deployment, it must be tested to ensure it is functioning correctly. Testing is vital to web application development. Bug fixes alone will not suffice; the unit testing from your QA engineers will help the product be of higher quality. These are some of the most frequent web application tests.
- Usability testing
- Performance testing
- Application security testing
- Quality assurance and bug testing
- Multiple browsers and compatibility testing
Once the quality assurance process is complete, the app is ready for launch. To deploy the web applications to your servers, you can use GitHub, Beanstalk App, and Bitbucket App. When the application is deployed, new features, changes, and improvements are implemented according to the user's feedback.
Cost of a Web Application Development
After reading the entire passage about the process of a custom web application development and every single detail about it, you’ll generally ask yourself: “How much does it cost?”. And just like with any other development works you need to carefully calculate and summarize all of the potential aspects that affect the final cost.
There is no doubt, there are quite a lot of different factors affecting the cost of web application development. Here are some of the most common ones that we picked out:
- The complexity of your web application
- Number of functionalities
- Outsourcing company
The last one highly depends on the developers’ location and their hourly ratings, which significantly differ. But let’s say, you just want to hear a bold answer and already know how your budget plan should be allocated.
A very simple web application development process that has a very light interface and basic functions in it would cost from $2,000 to $15,000, depending on the growth of your business. If you are looking for something bigger, that would actively involve your team to interact and work on this application for around 3 to 6 months, then the price will rise from $20,000 to $55,000.
Lastly, for those who are looking for a more complicated and custom web application development process, here the cost is high. It all depends solely on various integrations (API, Plugins), complex technical stacks, creation of separate UI/UX elements, brand identity development, and lots of other complex segments. Ergo, the price varies from $100,000 to $300,000 and may take from 6 months of development and management time till 1 or 2 years.
In the end, the process of web and mobile application development is a very crucial part of everyday businesses. Without them, you won’t be able to reach the vast majority if not all of your customers in the digital world we are living in right now. Furthermore, it will allow your product or service to gain a substantial amount of awareness among your potential customers and a competitive advantage among your competitors. The process of custom web application development is a long one. And depending on the size and the type of your company, the cost and time required to build one will adjust accordingly.