Web app development enables web-based projects to work and act as mobile applications, prioritizing responsive interactions, and user engagement.
For example, a website provides text and visual content that the web user can read and see but is unable to affect in any way. But a web application enables the user to read the content on the page and manipulate the data on it.
Both web app development and web development are necessary but understanding the difference will assist you in understanding how they could benefit your organization.
In this guide, we’re going to talk extensively about web applications, what they are, the various types, their disadvantages and advantages, and how to build a web app.
What Is a Web Application?
Web applications are interactive apps developed using web development that users can access through their internet browser.
Web apps have the usual backend-end and front-end web development technologies. They are also very similar to websites, so web development and web app development have very similar characteristics.
That said, web apps run on any device in a way that’s uniquely different from a traditional website.
Web applications are apps developed using web development technologies that users can interact with from their internet browser.
The Difference Between a Website and a Web App
Web applications are built to be interactive, while the primary purpose of a website is to display information.
Differentiating websites from apps may initially seem unnecessary, but the moment you begin to recognize the difference, you’ll understand why it matters.
Conventional websites may have web users who click or scroll to discover more information. Or they could even input personal data for online purchases or enter an email to subscribe to the page.
But web applications optimize the user experience enabling web visitors to do a lot more. Due to this type of engagement, web apps have to be dynamically updated.
Take Facebook or Twitter, for example. You may have noticed that using social media platforms from a web browser offers a better captivating experience than going to the website of a local deli. That’s because Facebook and Twitter are web applications, and the deli is a website.
Web applications are developed to be engaging and interactive while a website’s core purpose is to display information.
What are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?
Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) are a type of web application new to the digital landscape. They unite the desirable features of hybrid and native apps.
Just like any web application, Progressive Web Applications reside in internet browsers. And web users can access them just like they would any website.
That said, using a PWA means passing through the traditional download and install process that end-users expect with mobile applications. The great thing, though, is that Progressive Web Applications are always available on the user’s device.
Both Microsoft Store and Google Play Store welcome Progressive Web Apps. So in many ways, a progressive web application is just like a mobile app.
Progressive Web Applications can launch from the end user’s device without the need to launch a web browser first. They are also capable of sending push notifications straight to your mobile device. And can work offline, plus load quickly.
Alex Russell and Francis Berriman, original Google engineers that named Progressive Web Applications, listed the following criteria for what fits a PWA:
- Connectivity independent
- App-like interactions
The reason Progressive Web Applications are so compelling is their performance. In theory, web applications should be compelling due to their cross-platform capabilities. But in practicality, almost everyone in the software development space believes hybrid apps and web applications have slower performance than native applications.
Progressive Web Applications break this stereotype. However, it is crucial to state that Progressive Web Applications are not intended to usurp mobile apps’ role.
PWAs are accurately defined as conventional websites in mobile app packaging. They are not as engaging as a traditional web app nor as inaccessible or boring as a regular website.
PWAs are unique in the sense that they defy what a smartphone user or a web visitor would anticipate from such an app.
What are the Advantages of Web Applications?
Web apps ultimately smoothen the development process. Organizations looking for mobile app developers can provide their users with interaction without having to allocate the resources and time required for developing a mobile application.
However, weighing the disadvantages of web application development against the advantages is crucial to understanding the entire process.
So first, we will take a look at the advantages of web application development. The major thing you will notice is that web applications are a great choice for boosting the user experience and engagement.
Web applications do not have to be downloaded or installed. Or, as in the case of Progressive Web Applications, the download and installation isn’t the equivalent of an app consuming space on the user’s device.
Though devices are constantly increasing their storage space, some end-users simply do not appreciate the bloat of having many apps. Alternatively, some don’t have the space.
This option also frees end users from the demand for continuous updates. Plus, with progressive web apps, users can get a lot of the benefits provided by mobile apps with none of their problems.
End-users can access web applications from every device. With a tablet, a smartphone, or a laptop, end users can use a web application.
Simply put, web apps are completely multi-platform. They offer consumers an engaging exchange regardless of the operating system it runs on, whether PC, iOS mobile apps, Android, etc., as long as they maintain internet connectivity.
Web apps simplify the development and hiring process.
For instance, if you want your mobile application to be featured on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store, you will also need 2 distinct apps if you opt for native development.
In essence, if you want a mobile app on every platform, you would require 3 times as many resources.
Web app development eliminates these frustrations as there is strictly one code base.
What are the Disadvantages of Web Applications?
Web app development possesses a couple of disadvantages as listed below.
Typically web apps require internet access to perform adequately and, in most scenarios, to work. Though Progressive Web Applications eliminate the stereotype, the most engaging web applications will not respond without an internet connection.
Native technology always has the edge over non-native technologies. Because web apps are not native they do not possess the capacity to interact effectively with your device’s operating system and hardware.
Since system settings are different from device to device and web apps are cross-platform, developers do not build applications to work with laser specifications for each device. This restricts functionality compared to the functions of an app built just for a particular OS or device.
Irrespective of all the accolades, web apps do not replace mobile apps and will operate slower than an app hosted on a local server.
Progressive Web Applications try to control this disadvantage, but to date, there is zero veritable evidence that they have succeeded in eliminating the con.
Types of Web Applications
There are various types of web application frameworks with varying behaviors based on how they are built. Though the various web application types use web technologies, they typically are grouped into a single page, server-side, and client-side applications.
Single-page applications (SPA) are different from the conventional multi-page app, where fresh pages load only after clicking a link. Rather single-page applications have the advantages of both server-side and client-side applications.
Many web app developers use the power of server-side rendering to develop single-page applications that do not need the entire page to reload to carry out an action or acquire new data.
Client-side Web Applications
This type of web application is for front-end development. This means the application’s user interface is the primary focus for developers when building mobile apps. Such web apps prioritize user experience and offer end-users high-performance capabilities.
Any business logic or data that the application may use to work is dynamically loaded at the start. Due to such client-side rendering, there is little or no buffering time for page loading. This boosts interaction speed with content making the page responsive.
Server-side Web Applications
Server-side web apps are hand in hand with back-end development. This type of development consists of developing application program interfaces (APIs), databases, servers, and every other background process in an application.
While server-side applications still show content and user interfaces, the most dynamic aspects of code are in the webserver.
This type of web application works perfectly with static content, as with server-side rendering (SSR), it can take time for the browser to transmit a request to the server and wait for a reply.
On the positive side, server-side web applications are generally more secure and provide more browser compatibility than web apps on the client-side.
7 Steps to Developing/Building Web Applications
The web app development process isn’t much different from the regular SDLC or software development life cycle. Well-defined procedures and an excellent team are always what results in successful development.
1. Know the Problem
Knowing and understanding the problem you intend to solve with your app or defining what you want end users to use your web application is the first step in building one.
People have ideas all the time, but they aren’t worth implementing most times if it does not offer smart solutions to problems.
2. Map Out the Workflow
Workflows create a form of systematic organization for the different segments of your web app development. Brainstorm about what your web application will consist of and how to satisfy the requirements using your current budget and resources.
Since this is software development, your workflows must be technical and business-oriented. Also, adjust it per the timeframe that you want your web app to be ready for the end-user. Develop algorithms that will move your development forward from step to step.
Prototyping is developing an incomplete yet working app to better understand what the end product may look like. This is akin to a minimum viable product (MVP).
4. Prototype Validation
This is the idea that your app prototype must be good enough to provide you with validation for continuing your project because end users are already interested in what the final product would be.
To validate your prototype, you just have to show your web application to potential end-users. Get feedback and build from there.
5. Develop the App
To build your app, you need to know which back-end and front-end technologies and frameworks can confidently satisfy the requirements of your project. After locating and gathering all necessary tools, you can begin development.
The test phase for most software development teams is a continuous process throughout the project’s life cycle. This ensures that every iteration of your web application is error-free.
Also, software quality assurance is a crucial aspect of developing a web app. This must happen before releasing your web application to end-users.
7. Launch your web application
Like a website, a web application has to be hosted on web servers. This means that putting your web application into action necessitates buying a domain name and a cloud hosting provider.
Frameworks and Technologies for Web Applications
For successful web app development, your organization will require the right back end and front end tools. The technologies and frameworks listed below are useful for developing your web app.
These involve client-side programming:
These involve server-side programming:
- Ruby on Rails
- Internet Information Services (IIS)
Hire a Remote Web Application Developer
Like any software development project, web application development requires time and resources that must be handled adequately. At DistantJob, we can help you find and hire a remote web app developer for half the cost and twice the speed.
If you are a web developer, we can match you up with the right project and organization. Just contact us, and we’ll set you up.