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It’s become vital to capture market segments in today’s competitive environment through optimizing user experience. Using customizable web applications that enable consumers to communicate with you directly from the web browser, regardless of the device, is one of the finest methods to do this. Online stores, social networks, educational products, photo, video, and text editors, games, and reservation systems—all of these are web applications. They are more complex than standard informational websites, and they are places where the user is not only a passive reader, but rather an active participant in a process, interacting with the organization.

Through an informational site, you can tell the user about your company, but you can’t get feedback or provide a useful service. That is, developing a site for a company without interactivity does not provide all of these options. Furthermore, interactivity enables you to incorporate gamification, provide commenting options, and communicate with users. All of this helps grow a community around the brand and increase loyalty to the company.

In today’s article, we will tell you in detail about web applications: on what principles they work, what types there are, and how to build a web app. To learn more about their differences from conventional websites and mobile apps, their advantages and disadvantages, and why you should consider using a web development agency to create a web app for your business, keep reading!

What is a Web Application?

Before we discuss how to build a web application, let’s start with a definition. A web app is an application program that is stored on a remote server and is accessible through a browser interface. Unlike standard applications, these are programs that can work fully even without installation on the device. A smartphone, tablet, or computer gets online access to data, and the user doesn’t need to install it on his or her device—this is the main distinguishing feature of web applications.

This kind of tool should not be confused with websites. Web applications are interactive, where users can perform various actions: order a product or service, book a ticket, leave a comment or review, edit content, and so on. A website application can be created in almost any area, and all of them can benefit both customers and businesses, such as social networks, games, educational products, ticket and hotel reservation systems, online stores, financial solutions, etc.

Creating a web app is definitely one of the most progressive ways of investing time and resources in the development of a company today, because its implementation allows you to:

  • Automate business processes for both employees and staff
  • Attract the attention of the target audience and stand out from the competition
  • Make a solution of common tasks easier, more reliable, and safer

How Do Web Applications Function?

Regardless of the purpose for which a web application is created, this type of application works on a client-server model. Therefore, the following components are distinguished in the structure:

  • Client-side—responsible for the actions performed by the user
  • Server side—responsible for the processes occurring on the server
  • Database—a structure for orderly storage of information and access to it
Сreating a web app: advantages, types, tools, and examples

Web apps may be created by small teams of developers and often have quick development cycles. The majority of web apps are created using HTML5, CSS, and/or numerous JavaScript frameworks. These languages are employed in client-side programming to build an application’s front end. When writing scripts for web applications, server-side programming often employs languages like Python, Java, and Ruby.

The functionality of web applications allows them to work with several types of pages, including:

  • Statistical—a server process generates a page in response to a request and sends it to a browser regardless of the user’s actions, so that different users will see the same material for the same request.
  • Dynamic—a server process generates a page in response to a request, but only the content first passes through the application server and is formed depending on which commands were sent.

The primary responsibility while creating a web app is to provide effective communication between the client and server components, access to the database, and the proper capacity to create and deliver pre-made pages in response to a request.

Based on objectives, developers can create a web app that can be accessed from any device, or a demanding development environment that only devices with a certain level of hardware capabilities can work with. Various methods to build a web application can be used, including those with open access to the architecture, as in Wikipedia, or without such access, as in any commercial or news application.

Types of Website Applications

Сreating a web app: advantages, types, tools, and examples

Single Page Application (SPA)

Single-page apps basically consist of a single HTML page that is stored on a server and is updated when you scroll or click links. In other words, when you click on buttons, you do not move to a new page, but the elements are added to the already loaded one. Gmail is an example of these one-page programs—when you switch between message lists, the address of the page remains the same. This characterizes an SPA.

The main language for creating SPAs is JavaScript. The jQuery library may be used to create a tiny single page application; however, it’s not the best choice for complicated applications. Vue, React, and Angular frameworks are most often used.

SPA advantages include:

  • Easier development compared to multi-page applications
  • Applications are fast: the content on the page simply changes as the user moves, and it does not require a lot of resources to load
  • On one page, it’s easier to make a consistent design, and users will definitely not get lost or confused

But there are also disadvantages:

  • Setting up SEO optimization for a SPA will be more time-consuming than for other options
  • It’s difficult to guarantee the security of such pages: they are more prone to hacks and leaks than Multi-Page Application (MPA) and Progressive Web Application (PWA), which we will discuss below

MPA

These enable users to navigate between websites and scroll the browser window, and their content is displayed in full-page format. For instance, once a user has completed a payment, while in an SPA a confirmation box will load, in an MPA the payment page will be completely updated. The Amazon online shop is a brilliant example of a multi-page application. 

The advantages of MPA are:

  • Simple SEO
  • A more familiar option for most users who are used to navigating between pages
  • If the application is complex and has a lot of features, it should definitely be multi-page. Navigation through pages allows the user to easily get to the desired sections. Nobody wants to scroll a huge one-page application to the beginning when they suddenly need some information from there.

The disadvantages of MPA are as follows:

  • Complex and more costly to develop and design than a SPA

PWA

Сreating a web app: advantages, types, tools, and examples

This falls somewhere in between a website and a mobile application. Instead of using the app stores, PWA can be installed directly from the browser on the phone’s home screen. These programs open in the browser while also sending push alerts and working offline. The Service Worker technology—a script through which all interactions between the frontend and backend flow—makes this feasible. Cache and data are accessible to this script. In fact, you can add a service worker to most sites, and you get a PWA. As a result, the media, such as The Washington Post, frequently adopts this technology.

Pros of using PWA:

  • The combination of offline and online modes is user-friendly
  • Such applications can be developed relatively quickly

Let’s also look at the cons:

  • The application may work intermittently in older versions of the browser

In addition to the technical classification, there is also one based on purpose. Below, let’s take a look at the most popular types of business web applications:

Ecommerce Systems

These systems are created so that customers can order and sell goods without the involvement of third parties, leaving only two people in the sales chain. The most striking types of ecommerce platforms are marketplaces, online catalogs, and online stores.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

These systems are developed to automate the sales department and all incoming requests. Due to the CRM system, you will be able to: see and track the entire sales funnel of the company; make appointments, and see the history of interactions with all customers.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems

These are web-based systems that include not only the automation of the sales department but also all the resources and divisions of the company. Thanks to the ERP system, you can see the effectiveness of each department as well as set appropriate tasks.

Corporate Portals

These are web applications that act as a social module for your holding. Due to this web application, such problems as quick information dissemination to all employees of the company, corporate training, and employee control (the HR module) can be solved.

Web Applications’ Benefits

Savings

During development, you don’t need to create separate applications for different operating systems—they work the same in any browser: Opera, Safari, Google Chrome, etc.

Safety

The web system has a single entry point, so you can centrally configure its protection. In addition, user data is stored in the cloud, so if the hard drive is damaged, the information will survive.

Access From Different Devices

The user can interact with the web application through a computer, smartphone, tablet, etc. The main thing is access to the internet.

Lack of Client Software

Users do not need to download anything or, more importantly, update. You can change the client interface, and the update to the latest version will happen the next time the page is loaded.

Scalability

Even if the load on the system increases, you won’t need to increase the client capacity. Usually, web applications can only process more data with hardware resources, so you don’t need to rewrite the code and change the architecture.

How to Make a Web App

The process of creating a web app is the same as that of creating any other software. The key to successful development is always a great team and well-defined processes. You need a number of tools to build a web app that will enable you to build a structure, develop a visually stunning design, and make it interactive. The primary web application development technologies are as follows:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • PHP
  • TypeScript
  • Java
  • SQL

Web application development involves several steps and can be quite a long and labor-intensive process. Here are the main stages of creating a web app:

Idea Generation Stage

If you are wondering how to make a web app, then you should know where the starting point is. And as with any other project, when you create a web application, you should start with an idea.

Idea Source

You don’t need to come up with any substantial, ready-to-implement ideas at this point. Instead, emphasize brainstorming and give fixing user problems first priority. Once you know what issues users are facing, you may come up with products to address those issues.

Target Market and Competitor Research

The analysis of the target market and competition is one of the most important starting points for any product. Teams must have a thorough and realistic understanding of the market, its problems, scale (the number of people affected), and any competing solutions to build a web app.

Main Features and Functions of the Website Application

Prioritize the essential attributes and functionality of a web application by listing all the characteristics (both significant and minor) required to produce a finished product using the MSCW model.

Сreating a web app: advantages, types, tools, and examples

Design

When you create a web application, the next thing to consider is the design. Understanding the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), as well as how each influences design decisions at this stage of development, is the first step in creating a web app.

UI is focused on a web app’s feel and look, as well as details like fonts, colors, and layouts. The goal of user interface design is to make an interface that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing to users. UX handles and manages how users interact with the application, using a detailed understanding of what they desire and feel.

User Journey Map

It’s simpler to comprehend user motivations, wants, and challenges by mapping their trip at each point of the process. This also makes it easier to adjust UX design to address these issues.

Website app Wireframe

Digitally streamlined graphic conceptions for a future application are called wireframes. They display the product’s architecture, hierarchy, and connections between its constituent parts. Consider a wireframe as a draft or blueprint of the front-end and back-end functionality and design of a web application.

Clickable Prototype

The created collection of wireframes can be made more interactive so that the final prototype design functions and appears exactly like a full-fledged website app. You can view and utilize this prototype thanks to interactivity and UX improvements that simulate the user experience. By doing so, you may get helpful user feedback on functionality, design, and usability before full development is completed.

Visual Design

By choosing user interface elements such as fonts, color schemes, icons, shapes, buttons, screen element sizes and proportions, pictures, and more, UI designers develop layouts that demonstrate how the application would appear at this stage. Motion design components like animations and screen transitions are also included where suitable.

Development Stage

Сreating a web app: advantages, types, tools, and examples

The next step when you create a web application is development, during which crucial technical choices are made regarding the frameworks and technologies that will support the application as well as the coding of the web application itself.

Database Schema

The code for your web or mobile application is stored in a database. It’s also in charge of managing, storing, collecting, processing, and giving safe access to data. The market is nearly entirely dominated by MySQL, MongoDB, and PostgreSQL, making the decision of which database to use very simple. Security and the impossibility of data leaks are the most crucial factors to take into account when picking a database.

Front End

Client-side development, known as the frontend, exposes the user to the web application through a browser. Several frameworks provide the fundamental templates and parts for contemporary front-end development. You only need to set up your development environment to get started. Select a code editor (like VS Code), a compilation and packaging framework (like Webpack), and a front-end framework (like React, Vue, etc.), and configure tool packages to communicate with the backend that will probably run on a different port on localhost. In most cases, an HTTP proxy host is used for this.

Backend

Backend development is concerned with the actual logic, database, and web application server. Numerous frameworks are available to aid with development because the backend is highly complex. The language or technology stack that is selected to build a web app has an impact on the available framework possibilities. These include NodeJS, Python, Laravel, Ruby on Rails, and more well-known ones.

Frontend API Integration with Backend

To enable data exchange, the API integration procedure links the interface with the backend.

Website App Testing

The main task of a tester is to check the operation of the application before its release so that the team enters the market with a quality product. Testers study the product documentation, create test cases (a list of features to be tested and their sequence) and verify that all features perform as specified in the requirements. They either manually simulate user actions in different scenarios or write scripts for automated testing. After that, developers receive a report with a list of errors and recommendations for correction.

Launch

At this point, you should have chosen a location for hosting your web application and presenting it to real users.

Hosting

The web application can be accessed through hosting in the cloud, giving you immediate access from anywhere on the globe. These include well-known hosting companies like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Consider factors such as cost, scope, limitations, add-ons, scalability, and user evaluations when selecting a hosting service.

Deployment

The last step entails moving the website app from source control to the cloud of the hosting company. There are numerous programs that can assist with this, including GitHub, GitLab, Jenkins, and Bitbucket.

Final Thoughts 

The development of mobile applications is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. However, web apps that give you a simple way to communicate with your audience are today’s unsung heroes. They let users perform actions/operations through their web browser, so you might infer that they are a lite version of your mobile app. Additionally, it’s significantly less expensive to build a web application than a mobile one. For all of these reasons, you should consider web development if you want a custom web application for your company.

The question of how to make a web app can be answered by professionals at NIX United. We are a reliable partner who values our customers and achieves the best results. Meanwhile, considering all the benefits and risks of outsourcing web development, choosing this option will be a win-win because it allows the company to focus on business tasks while an outsourced team takes care of the web app.

FAQ

What’s the Difference Between a Web App and a Website?

A website alone is not a web application. The objective of a website may be to offer people information or content, whether in the form of a static or freestanding web page. A web application’s primary goal is to enable user interaction through the performance of one or more tasks.

What is the Difference Between a Mobile App and a Web App?

Mobile apps have access to system resources like GPS and camera capabilities and are downloaded and installed through the app store. Mobile applications operate and live on the actual device. Web apps, on the other hand, are accessed using an internet browser. Regardless of the device you use to access them, web apps adapt.

What is a Progressive Web App?

A progressive web app (PWA) is a website that looks and behaves like a mobile app. PWAs are made to make use of the built-in capabilities of mobile devices without requiring the user to go to an app store, buy something, and download the program locally. An alternative is a PWA, which can be quickly found with a search engine query and viewed using a browser, but their level of functionality is much lower.

What is a Single-Page App?

The term “single page application” (SPA) refers to a website or web application that dynamically replaces the currently loaded web page with fresh data from the web server without requiring the web browser to load the new pages in their entirety. Gmail, Google Maps, Airbnb, Netflix, Pinterest, Paypal, and many other services are examples of one-page applications that are widely used.

What is a Multi-Page App?

Multi-page applications are typical web applications that, whenever a user interacts with the app, reload the entire page and display a new one.

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