Custom Web Application Development: Technologies, Best Practices, Trends.

Web Application development

Introduction

2020 has been a year of transformation and of all, Web application development is accelerating at an aggressive rate. Web apps with user-friendly interfaces are in high demand. But when it comes to developing an app, there are certain factors which define and add to the application’s success. Users look forward to the look or feel of the app, its design and if it works on their desired platforms. Therefore, the development of Web applications should not be limited to smartphones but also be able to run on any browser i.e. PCs, laptops, other mobile devices etc.

The process of deciding about turning an idea into a reality and building a successful web application can cause a dilemma. Which type of application should be built? What technology stack has to be selected for it to successfully work? And lastly, building the right development team for effectively completing the tasks. Because building an app is not just about its UX or UI, its maintenance, security and stability also play an important role, for which the development team is essential. Moreover, while you’re busy running a business, taking care of your business model, the costs related to the product and marketing strategies, a reliable development team can take care of choosing the right technologies for your web application and deliver the product just in time.

In this article, we will be discussing 6 relevant types of web applications and the technologies used to build them. Further explaining the best web development practices, trends and top technologies and see how web application development can turn your business around!

Contents

Types of Web Apps

The classification of different types of apps is based on how they show the content accepted by them. Let’s delve into the functionalities and help you narrow down the type of web app suitable to your business needs.

  1. Static Web Apps – Static web applications are usually developed in HTML and CSS but not restricted to them. jQuery and Ajax can also be used as per the developer’s convenience. Animated objects such as GIFs, banners, videos etc. can also be included in the static apps.

However, the modification of content in static apps is not easy. They are hard to maintain and the content does not change unless it is changed physically on the servers. Static apps are loaded on the user’s browser exactly how they are stored on the server.

Though Static apps are cost-effective and take less time to load, no interaction is possible other than sharing information. It is a suitable choice for small business websites which require fewer content updates.

  • Dynamic Web Apps – Dynamic web applications are complex to design and construct and are used when the information needs to be changed or updated often. They generate data in real-time, according to the user requests.
    When the request for a dynamic page occurs on the web server, the page is passed to the application server. The users can upload the content as there are databases used at the server end, for data loading and CMS (administration panel) looks after the modification of the app content.

Different programming languages or tools can be used to build a dynamic web app i.e. PHP, ASP, JSP, ASP.NET, CGI etc.

Some of the major examples of Dynamic Web Apps can be popular social media apps such as Twitter, facebook  etc.

  • CMS (Content Management Systems) – Content Management System (CMS) is web application development software used for creating, managing and modifying the website’s content without needing any technical knowledge of web programming or mark-up languages. Without it, the content has to be written in a Static HTML file and uploaded to the server.
    With CMS, users can easily edit and use plug-ins to extend the website’s existing functionalities.

    Some of the major examples of CMS are WordPress and Joomla, which are easily customizable and highly intuitive. CMS web applications are best suited for content managers, bloggers, news websites etc.
  • JavaScript Powered Web Apps – JavaScript is used for making dynamic and interactive web pages. Some of the front-end JavaScript Frameworks include AngularJS, ReactJS, NodeJS, etc., which allow better flexibility and reduce the time and effort required to build JS-based apps. JavaScript-powered apps can work on any browser or mobile device.

    Web applications built with JavaScript frameworks perform extremely well, allowing user interaction, SEO (search engine optimization) and are suitable for most industries i.e. e-shops, client portals, full-blown web apps, top-class SAAS Products etc.
  • Single Page Web Apps (SPA) – Single page web applications allow users to interact from a single page. They are swifter and faster than the traditional web applications as they execute the logic in the web browser and not on the server.

The content on SPAs update dynamically and the page does not have to fully reload. Only one request is sent to the server and all the data received by the SPA is stored, which makes it work offline.
However, unlike multi-page apps, SPAs are less immune to the cross-site scripting attacks and are also not very compatible with SEO optimizations due to universal URLs.

The most popular single page web apps are the ones you use everyday – Gmail, Google Drive, GitHub etc.

  • Progressive Web Apps (PWA) – The purpose of Progressive web applications is to improve the performance with the rich-features and allow mobile adaptability. Studies show that users are more likely to download a PWA because of its look and feel. Some of the key features include cashing, home screen instalment and better data transfer.

PWAs are more responsive and enhance user experience i.e. mobile web experience as they are available for users with any internet speed.

Technologies for Web App Development

Technology stack is what the application is based on and choosing the right one determines application or the product’s success. But let’s first understand what is the technology stack. It’s a set of tools and frameworks used for developing a product, components of which work together into creating a functioning web application.

Technology Stack

Web development has two sides, front-end development i.e. the client-side and back-end development i.e. the server-side. The users view the client-side (front end), while the server-side (back-end) has the database application which connects the user requests to the database and the server.

Let’s delve into what these technology stacks are –

·        Client-Side Programming – The client-side involves everything users can see on their screens and allows user interaction. These interactions occur in the browser and the components used are –

o   HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) – Defines the structure of the data presented in the browser.

o   CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – Determines the style of content (fonts, colours, layouts etc.)

o   JavaScript – Enables interactivity of the web pages

·          Server-Side Programming – Server-side works behind the scenes and is invisible to the users. All the server-side tech stacks include – Operating System, Web server, Database, Programming Language and the web application framework. Some of the popular programming – Ruby, Python, PHP, Java, Scala.

Let’s take a look at the popular technology stacks are

o   LAMP – Based on Linux (Operating system), Apache (web server), MySQL (database) and PHP (programming language)

o   MEAN – MongoDB (Database), Express.js (app framework), AngularJS (front-end framework) and NodeJS (runtime environment)

Framework

o   Django – Based on Python (Programming Language)

o   Spring -Java

o   Laravel, Codeigniter – Php

·          Database – Database searches, filters, presents and sorts the data in the web application, based on user requests sent through a web browser. It also performs various calculations to support user queries.

A Database is divided into two

o   Relational – MySQL, PostgreSQL

o   Non-Relational – MongoDB, Apache Cassandra

·          Server – Web Servers receive, process and deliver user requests in an HTML message form.
Most used web servers are –

o   NGINX – open source

o   APACHE HTTP Server – open source

o   IIS – free and paid

Serverless technologies are the next evolution in web app development and have been a hot topic in the IT industry. They have helped developers to meet the business expectations and here’s how – Serverless Architecture.

Criteria for Selecting the Right Technology

Having learned about the web app development types and the technology stacks, let’s now move to get a clear picture of how to select a web development stack. While choosing a technology stack, you need to filter your options by analyzing your application requirements, including the specifications.

  • Complexity type of Web Application –  The first and one of the most important things is to determine the size and complexity of the application which you choose to develop. You must get a toolset (technology stack) which is necessary to build according to your plan and provide unique benefits to your app.

    The projects or applications can be divided into three types –
    • Simple – These web applications are created with simple ready-made solutions, such as WordPress.
      Example: Landing pages, simple web stores.
    • Mid-Level – These have more features and the architecture of these apps is more complex.
      Example: e-commerce stores, enterprise-grade apps etc.
    • Complex – These have built-in analytics, custom features and numerous third-party integrations.
      Example:       FinTech software, large e-commerce marketplaces etc.

  • Time to Market – The way the technology stack supports reusable components and third-party integrations may influence the application’s Time-to-Market. Tools with easy integration can speed up the development process. Other than that, the developer’s expertise and familiarity with the tools is also important. And lastly, the quality of documentation. If you team up with the right web app development agency, you can launch the app just in time, easily reducing the Time To Market.
  • Maintainability – Effortless maintenance is essential while you scale the application. The two factors on which maintainability relies on –
    • Codebase – The codebase of the application should neither be concise nor too lengthy. Concise codebase goes through more debugging errors, while the lengthy codebase takes more time to process.
    • Architecture – Application’s architecture should support scalability, reusability and portability. The stack should allow incorporation of extra frameworks and tools.
  • Open Source Solutions – While selecting a technology stack, be sure to implement solutions that are open source. They are free of cost to allow limitless modifications as per the project. Selecting open source technologies to lower the initial development costs and maintenance fees as well.
  • Development Cost – The more advanced the sophisticated the technology stack or programming language, the more the cost of development. One way to reduce the cost is by selecting open-source solutions.The other factor is the development team and their salaries, which depend on their expertise and the technologies they work on.
  • Scalability – Scalability of the technology stack is essential for a business or their product to grow. The technology tools may have different scalability potentials. Therefore, check the horizontal and vertical scalability options.
    • Horizontal – to add more physical machines or processing units to your current server or database.
    • Vertical – to add more resources (CPU/RAM/DISK) to your current web server or database, as on demand or upgrading server hardware.
  • Security – If your application highly depends on user data, look for technologies which allow you control access and permissions at feature-level, object level and field level. Features like authentication and authorization are important for external security. Most technologies have security guidelines mentioning the prevention steps and how to minimize vulnerabilities. Developers should work on building the web app according to the security guidelines.
  • Developer Community and Documentation – While dealing with complicated technologies and frameworks, developers may find it hard to work if the code is throwing errors and the problem cannot be identified. This adds up to the time-to-market. Therefore, look for the technologies with good documentation and considerable developer community because the combination of two can overcome the issues quickly.

Benefits for Business

Web applications bring various benefits which help achieve business objectives more effectively.

·  Web application runs on multiple platforms i.e. supported by any operating system, as long as the browser is compatible and users access the same version of the app.

·  Considering the future needs of the business, a responsive app development environment and custom web application development has scalability which helps achieve that.

·  Web applications are not installed on a system’s hard drive. Therefore, there are no space issues.

·  Businesses can embed as many security features as required to strengthen the system.

·  There’s less risk of piracy with the subscription-based web application feature.

·  Web applications are flexible, customizable as per needs, cost-effective and they require less maintenance.

·  Given the fact that business systems created by web apps are web-based, there is 24/7 accessibility as long as there is an internet connection.

Web App Development: Best Practices

  • Follow Standard Rules – Each industry has certain standards which people should adhere to and the same goes for web development. People or users are used to the standardization and any attempt at reinventing them can put them off the track. For instance –
    • Users should be able to notice hyperlinks in the main text, therefore, they should be clearly visible and sufficiently visible.
    •  The top right corner should have the Contacts, registration and authorization buttons and the top left corner should have the logo (with home page redirection)
    • Same navigation map for all the pages and so on.
  • Proper Documentation for Code – There should be proper documentation throughout the development process, right from the beginning. Everything from defining the idea to the final product needs to be documented.

The Roadmap, Research, Audience scope and security, Team collaboration, technology selection and the other technical workings, third-party vendors, managed servers, application layouts and designs, database structure, testing and lastly, maintenance.

  • Mobile-Friendly as a Requirement – The web app should be accessible on multi-devices i.e. laptops, smartphones or tablets, all of which have different screen size and form factors. The product should have an adaptive design i.e. it should be correctly displayed on each screen type, adapting to its functionality and providing a good quality user experience.
  • No Testing on Production Mode/Working Website – Frequent testing is important but it should never be conducted using a working website. There are test or development environments available, which should be used accordingly to avoid future website failure due to mistakes made while developing.
    The dedicated testing/development environments help identify the errors long before they can negatively impact the website’s operations.
  • Priority to Security – Security is the top-most priority and if neglected, it can cause a breach, data thefts etc., which can further negatively affect the company’s reputation. Websites are prone to intruders and in order to reduce the vulnerability, the product has to be built according to the security practices. Some of which are, Database protection, access permission allocation and HTTP connections, which should be implemented while developing the product.
  • Choose Sensible Color and Typography for UI – Focus on web application’s design, look and feel. Studies show that colour coordination and typography leave a long-lasting impact on users and influence their perception. Developers must use the typography which makes the website stand out.

Content Management Systems (CMS) provide tools and features with which companies can easily update and manage the contents and designs of the website.

Top Web Development Trends & Technologies

In a highly competitive market, it is important to foresee what the new changes are, the trends and learn how to adapt them.  Here are the 6 web development trends you need to consider.

  • Machine Learning – Artificial Intelligence (AI), including Machine Learning affects our daily internet activities. AI or ML enhances cognitive functions such as learning, data collection, data analysis and allows multi-task automation. The software analyses the incoming data, makes decisions, detects trends and improves the performances without the direct intervention of developers. Which is why Machine Learning is becoming more prevalent with time.
    Key features include higher customer satisfaction, increased customer base, less human errors, cost-efficient and better time management.

    Example – Airnb employed ML to customize search results for guests and Netflix went even further and employed predictive content personalization for users.
  • Web Assembly – Web assembly is here to make a change in the web development world with its open standard, which defines a portable binary code format for executable programs. While JavaScript makes big calculations slow, Web Assembly compiles programming language code into bytecodes that run in a browser faster.

    Web Assembly harnesses hardware capabilities to be efficient, builds modular binaries, supports non-browser embedding, integrates the existing web platform etc. All these factors make it worth investing in web assembly to boost web app performance.
  • Voice Search – Digital voice assistants have gained popularity due to their affordability and functionality. Smartphones are already equipped with them, which makes it easy to web search – Google Assistant (androids) & Siri (iPhones). Moreover, smart speakers are not that costly. Another reason for its popularity is the easy-to-use functionality. Voice Searches can affect SEO work, which is why developers should include the richest snippet for the voice search.
  • Chatbots – Chatbots are created using Artificial Intelligence / Machine learning, which is used by big or small enterprises as online assistants, which are available 24/7 for users. Depending on the advancement of the chatbot, they can address simple queries, point users to certain products or pages, provide answers and can even lead them to purchase.
  • Single-Page Application – Single-page web applications work inside a web browser and reduce the reloading requirements of the web pages by using JavaScript for content loading. The single-page apps render the web pages in the user’s browser without any additional waiting time. These are popular because of the relevancy of the information displayed on a single page. The best examples are – Google, Gmail and GitHub.
  • Push Notification – Push Notifications have the potential to transform the remarketing effectiveness with their time, relevancy and preciseness. Push notifications have a great influence on customers. They are the direct link between you and your customers and can be used to target a specific user base, without any spam filters to get the message across. Wondering how to add this feature into your business website or blogs to engage with your clients?  Engagespot can help in incorporating Push Notifications into your platforms and delivery messages seamlessly. Welcome messages, discount alerts, product announcements or sale are some of the major ways how push notifications are used. Some other companies providing push notification services are – Webpushr, Pushnami, iZooto, OneSignal etc.

Your Development Method

Having decided to build an application, there’s another thing which needs to be determined – How to organize the app development process? What team of developers to hire – Inhouse or Outsource?

  • In-house Team Hiring – In-house development, you would be leveraging company resources to develop the required product. In this, you would need to invest a lot of money, assemble the right team consisting of different people and manage them. While the work is internal and has a better understanding of company culture, it requires salaries, infrastructure investment and also there can be a lack of skills. Moreover, the company should have all the resources and infrastructure required to build a successful product.
  • Outsourcing Your Development – On the other hand, Outsourcing delegates the task. Meaning, a third-party software development agency is hired to do the development and all the software related work.

This approach gives you the flexibility to focus on the business objective and allows you to take care of other operations while the product is being developed by the Outsourcing company. Moreover, there’s better risk management and no hiring hassle.

Outsourcing is a perfect option for the companies whose core competency is not IT or the companies who have their hands full with other tasks and core processes. It is much more cost-efficient and reduces the time-to-market as the third-party has all the resources, team and infrastructure required to build the product.

Our Web Development Methodology: 6 Principles

1.       Our highest priority is to ensure highest customer satisfaction through early continuous delivery of valuable software. We dispense changing requirements, even in the later stage of development.

2..    Frequently deliver working software, with a preference to the shorter time-scale. Because Working software – the primary measure of progress.

3.      Close and Regular cooperation among developers and business people. And follow-ups through the best form of communication i.e. Face-to-Face.

4.      Agile development through the sustainable development process and the ability to maintain it at a constant pace. How? By building projects around motivated and trusted individuals, providing the environment to support the need.                   

5.      Continuous attention to technical excellence and good software design enhancement. The best architectures, requirements and designs emerge from a self-organizing team.

6.  Simplicity is the essential art of maximizing the amount of work not done is essential. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective and adjust its behaviour accordingly.

Conclusion

Selecting the right technology stack, in accordance with the type of app you want to build can be a real challenge. The key to build a successful product is to have the right team working on it, with the right technologies, following best practices.

The wrong choice and decision may end in business losses. Therefore, it is essential to keep up with the trends to give the business an edge in the markets. A team of professional web developers with all the resources can deliver a top-notch product with all the functionality you require and all in less time-frame.

Are you ready to give life to your idea?

Whether you’re looking forward to turning your idea into reality or to upgrade your already existing web application, aTeamindia has got you covered. We offer customized, scalable, robust and highly secure web development services to carve the future of your business.

Our team looks forward to serving and helping you achieve your business objectives.

Talk to our expert today! Drop a mail to sales@ateamindia.com