In this ever-evolving digital landscape, web app development is growing at an unprecedented pace. Users want scalable, secure, and feature-packed web applications with highly personalized UX.
Web apps combine the personalized experience of native mobile apps with the ease of accessing them on a web browser from any device at all. That’s what makes web apps quite popular among a wide range of businesses such as e-commerce, finance, and banking.
In this guide, we will discuss what is web application development along with its benefits for businesses and types of web app development.
But before we move on to that, let’s discuss the differences between web apps, websites, and mobile apps for better clarity on the concept.
What is web application development?
Web application development is the process of designing, building, testing, and deploying a web-based app. A web application is an interactive program that runs on a web server and is accessed through a web browser. You don’t need to download it from a store or install it on your device.
Web application programming generally consists of two main parts – The client-side and server-side. The server-side helps store and retrieve data, while the client-side helps display the retrieved data to end-users on the front-end of a web application. Web apps are cost-effective and faster to build as compared to mobile apps. They also come with certain limitations, such as their inability to use native device features.
Now that we have understood what web application development is, it’s time to dive into the differences between a web app and a website.
Differences between web app and website
A website’s primary purpose is to show information. It is navigable and provides visual and textual content that end-users can see and read, but cannot manipulate. Websites are available to users via a browser and across a wide range of devices.
Also, authentication is not mandatory for informational websites. The user may be asked to register to get access to additional options unavailable to unregistered website visitors. For instance, you can go through the news and featured articles on a news website without registering. However, in order to comment on posts, you will have to log in. This way, users confirm their identity allowing the system to block spammers.
Some of the popular examples of websites include wikepedia.com and google.com. You are not required to install or download these websites and can access them over a wide range of devices.
Web apps, on the other hand, are designed for interaction with end-users. The users of web applications can read the app content and also manipulate the data. An illustrative example of a web application is an online banking application that performs transactions based on a customer’s input.
Web apps are extremely customizable and offer a wide variety of functions. In addition, they require authentication due to security reasons.
For instance, when you register on any social networking web app like Facebook, you get a unique identification number to create the account. The system warns you if your password and login are weak. If you leave them unchanged, hackers may reach your account and steal your information. Therefore, authentication is required for logging into such web apps.
However, web apps are more difficult to build and require an experienced team of web application developers.
Below is a table of differences between web applications and websites for a better understanding:
|Web apps are created for interaction with end-users||Websites generally contain static information|
|Users of web apps can read the content of web app and manipulate the data||Users of the website can just read the content but not manipulate it|
|The function of a web app is quite complex||The function of the website is simple|
|Examples: Amazon, Facebook||Examples: Bing, Reddit|
Differences between web app and mobile app
Mobile apps are built for a specific platform such as iOS or Android. They are downloaded or installed via an app store and have access to system resources such as GPS and the camera function. Snapchat, Instagram, and Google Maps are popular examples of mobile apps.
Web apps, on the other hand, are accessed using the internet browser and will adapt to whichever platform or device you are viewing them on. They are not required to be installed or downloaded. Web apps need a smooth internet connection in order to run, whereas mobile apps may run offline.
Below is a table of differences between web applications and mobile apps:
|Web apps||Mobile apps|
|Web apps cannot support complex functionalities||Mobile apps have flexible interfaces and support complex functionalities|
|They are not required to be downloaded or installed||They need to be downloaded and installed|
|Monetization through web apps is easier||Monetization strategies of mobile apps are still evolving|
|Web apps need active internet connection||Mobile apps may run offline|
Pros and cons of web app development
Web app development offers a number of advantages to businesses and enterprises, such as lower costs, better user experience, and flexible access. In this section, we have listed a few key advantages of web app development that you must know:
While it’s difficult to put a tag price on web app development in general, it does tend to be more cost-effective than building a mobile app. This is largely due to the fact that less time is spent on development, as only one version of the app needs to be built to serve all operating systems. So, if you’re on a budget and want to implement custom software into your business, web app development is a perfect choice.
Web apps are not required to be updated often in the way common apps usually do. The website/URL to which the application is linked to gets updated to its most recent version. And, as everyone has access to the same version of the web application via the same URL, all users use the most up-to-date and same version of it at all times.
Free from downloading needs
Using a web browser allows users to directly interact with the app. These apps do not have to be downloaded or installed separately from different platforms like Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store. This also results in savings as one does not have to bear any costs for having a direct link through a web app.
Moreover, web apps can be accessed via multiple browsers as well as run on multiple web app development platforms like laptops, desktops, or mobiles.
Now that we have seen the advantages of web app development, it’s time to look into a few disadvantages of opting for web app development.
A web app generally operates at a slower speed than the application hosted on a local server. A web app is directly linked to our browser, and due to this, the app size tends to increase.
Therefore, a large app is relatively slower than a native desktop one. Additionally, as a web app is completely reliable on the internet, its speed can get slower due to the internet connection quality.
While SSL enforcement can reduce data breach risk, web apps generally do not come with quality control features. Hence, security and safety are comparatively reduced, causing threats to important and confidential data.
Types of web apps
In this section, we have listed the different types of web app development along with their features and real-world examples. Select the one that suits your business requirements and works best for you.
Static web apps
These are the most basic types of web applications with little or no room for flexibility. These apps are often created using CSS and HTML and can handle animated content such as GIFs and videos. However, it might get challenging at times to update the web app.
The best example of a static web app would be a person’s portfolio website or a company’s website, presented as a business card.
Dynamic web apps
A dynamic web application generates data in real-time on the user’s request and server response.
Let’s take an example to understand dynamic apps.
When you log in to Netflix, it will show you movie recommendations based on your choice. In case you select rom-com movies to watch, Netflix will show more rom-com recommendations based on your selection.
These apps generally have an administration panel (called CMS) from which administrators can modify or correct the app’s content, including text and images. Many different web languages can be used to create dynamic web applications. However, PHP and ASP are the most common, as they are much easier to understand when it comes to structuring content.
A single-page app runs entirely within a browser and doesn’t require page reloading. Here, requests and responses take place efficiently because of small amounts of data.
Single-page web applications are way quicker in comparison to traditional web apps because single-page apps’ logic is directly implemented in the web browser rather than the server. Moreover, you can update a single-page app in the future as per your requirements.
Some of the popular examples of single-page apps include Gmail, Paypal, and Pinterest.
Multiple page apps
It is a type of web app that includes multiple pages and reloads the whole page whenever a user navigates to a different page.
For instance, when you log into Amazon to buy a laptop, you need to click on a specific laptop. As soon as you add a laptop to your cart and hit the next button, the web app will redirect you to the next page. Then you need to click on buy, and you will be redirected to the card page to finalize your purchase.
Apart from Amazon, companies like Trello and eBay are other good examples of multiple-page web apps.
Animated web apps
An animated web app supports animation and synchronization on the web platform. Here, UI/UX designers can show creativity by integrating elements that are not possible with other types of web apps.
The best practice is to include animations that would grab the attention of users and deliver valuable information. This, in turn, results in an improved user experience.
The major drawback of developing such apps is that they are improper for web positioning and SEO as search engines are unable to fetch data from them.
Species in Pieces and Game of the Year are some of the best examples of animated web apps.
Progressive web apps
Progressive web apps (PWAs) are one of the most well-developed types of web applications that look similar to native mobile applications. These apps use the latest browser APIs, features, and progressive enhancement methods.
Some of the notable examples of PWAs include Starbucks, BMW, and Spotify.
Portal apps are the type of web app where various sections and categories are accessible on the home page. The page contains various details such as emails, chats, forums, user registration, etc.
Portal apps allow personalized access and user-centric navigation based on the user’s needs. Client portals, patient portals, and education university portals are some of the different types of portal apps.
Coursera and Udemy are well-known educational portal web apps that offer a range of distance learning programs, including skill development courses to university degrees across the globe.
This type of web app allows users to electronically buy or sell goods over the internet. E-commerce web apps can support advanced features like maintaining a product database, providing a shopping cart, managing orders, tracking orders in real-time, accepting online payments, and so on.
Amazon and eBay are popular examples of e-commerce web apps.
Key steps for web app development
If you’re wondering how to develop a web app, given below are a few steps that you should consider before the development begins. These steps for web app development are vital for the success of your application, so don’t skip over them.
Also, go through our comprehensive guide on mobile app development to know how your business can gain immense benefits through a mobile application.
Idea generation and validation
The process to build a web application starts with an idea – an idea about what kind of application you want to build. Your idea should come from solving someone’s problem, ideally, your own problem. If you can identify and articulate this problem, you can brainstorm products to solve that problem.
After zeroing in on a few ideas, validate them. Validating will help you find the idea that actually works for you. For validation, you can get audiences’ feedback. You can make use of forums, social media, and your network for this purpose.
Research your target market and competition
When developing a web app, it’s essential to find out more about your target market and do in-depth market research. This will help you better understand leading players, how consumers interact with brands and more. You can also check ratings and reviews for leading apps in the market. This will help you come up with a better web app.
You should also learn about your target audience. Understand your users’ location, average age, and the types of devices they use.
Decide your app features
It’s important to have the right features integrated into your app. You need to identify the features that will solve your target market’s problems. While adding popular features to your app might sound attractive, unnecessary features might leave your users frustrated and compel them to uninstall your app.
Furthermore, adding features will lengthen the mobile development time and add to the cost. So, it’s advisable to focus on simple functionalities in the early development stages.
Choose an intuitive UI/UX design
What is the first thing your users see when they enter an app? It’s the way your app looks and interacts with users. Easy and user-friendly control of the app’s features is what makes it attractive to its users. The app functionality is not worth it if the app users are not able to actually use it in real life. This will leave them frustrated and they will move on to some other application.
While user experience is how the users interact with the app and gives commands to solve the issues that the app was originally built for, the user interface (UI) refers to how your mobile app represents itself to the user.
Your app’s overall effectiveness can be measured by the optimal combination of its functionality and attractiveness. Considering this, make sure your app follows the below-mentioned basic rules:
- It’s simple
- It’s engaging
- It’s intuitive
When integrating trendy app designs, make sure that it not only looks attractive but interacts with the user and makes the use of the application comfortable and fast.
Hire a web app development company
Hiring a trusted web application development company will ensure that your web app includes all the latest functionalities and features at affordable costs.
A web app development company includes a team of project managers, UI/UX designers, web application developers, and market specialists who always consider your vision and offer valuable suggestions. The company also offers access to industry expertise and latest technologies.
Here are a few points that you can consider before hiring a web app development company:
- Select an experienced web app development team.
- Look for the collaboration and communication approach of the company.
- Ask them about their app maintenance policy.
- Pay attention to how well the app development company understands your project requirements.
Minimum Viable Product or MVP is that version of the app that has the most basic features. The main idea behind MVP app development is to gauge how millions of users accept your app idea before you invest any more money into scaling your app.
The fact that MVPs give a clear idea of the app’s worth at low development cost and effort has made them the first step toward ensuring the success of the app.
There are a number of brands that started off as MVPs and have now become top-notch businesses, such as Twitter, Dropbox, Airbnb, Spotify, and Groupon, amongst others.
Test your app
When you create an app, it’s crucial to keep testing the app. Following testing methods can be applied depending on the web app functionalities and features:
UI/UX testing – This type of testing is done to evaluate many components of the software that consumers will interact with.
Functionality testing – It is a type of black-box testing that is used to determine whether a web app meets the specified requirements.
Regression testing – In regression testing, every modification made to the website is checked to see if it breaks the website’s overall flow.
Compatibility testing – In this type of testing, quality analysts check your software’s functionality utilizing an operating system, an application, mobile devices, and a network environment.
Proper testing will help reduce development time and costs, identify bugs, and greatly improve your reputation as a service provider.
Host your web app
Once you have successfully tested the application, you will need to select a server. Purchase a domain name and mount an SSL certificate. Then pick a cloud provider, such as Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud platform. If you go for one of these hosting choices, you’ll almost definitely get everything you need.
Deploy your web app
You’re ready to go live once you have the code and the host. Simply upload your app to your hosting solution, and it will be open to your customers. But is it the end? No. Once you have successfully launched your app, make sure to track its performance using various in-app analytics tools, address users’ requests and concerns, and introduce updates to increase user engagement.
Now that we have understood the steps to build a web application, it is time to look at the tech stacks used for web application programming.
Tech stacks used for web app development
Web technology stack is divided into two categories – the front end (client-side) and the back end (server-side). Each of these tech stacks come with a comprehensive set of tools that enable you to create advanced, high-performance, and fast web apps.
Front-end, which is also known as client-side, enables the web application to be visible on the internet. It is responsible for how the users interact with the web application. Here are some commonly used web application development technologies for front-end development:
HTML – This is used for structuring the content on a web page.
CSS – It provides styles to format the HTML components on the browser. CSS determines the font, styles, colors, and other static elements of the front-end.
Front-end UI frameworks – Angular, React, and Vue, are popular front-end UI frameworks that allow you to build on top of existing components and structures.
Besides programming, you will also need tools for version controls, testing, and deployment when developing the frontend.
Back-end web development stacks
Back-end, which is also known as the server-side, isn’t visible to the end-users. It works behind the scenes and enables the front end to do its job. It’s because of the backend development that each component of the application understands how and when to respond to user requests.
Developing the backend requires the following tech stacks:
Although it’s possible to build a web app without using a database, such an app will have limited functionality. The database is essential to store data for a dynamic web app, particularly if your app asks for users’ data.
Some of the commonly used databases for web development include MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB.
A server is where requests from the client’s side are received, processed, and acted upon. The two most popular servers for web apps are Apache and Nginx.
Various programming languages are used to develop the backend application. Some of the popular ones are Node.js, Ruby on Rails, and Java.
Documents and images require secure and reliable storage on the backend. This is where AWS S3 and Firebase Storage come into play.
In addition to these, back-end development for web applications also requires developers to choose an operating system and back-end frameworks for their projects.
How much does it cost to build a web app?
There is no single answer to how much it costs to develop a web application. The average cost of developing a web application can range somewhere from $5000 to $250,000+. However, knowing the app type can help make a rough pre-estimation. Depending on its complexity, a web app can fall into one of the three categories –
Simple web apps
These are landing pages, one-pagers, and usual online stores with a standard design and a bare minimum of features. Usually, they require basic interactive forms and little content.
The average cost to develop a simple web app ranges from $5,000 to $15,000.
Medium web apps
These apps often contain interactive elements and lots of content. That’s why their development time takes up to 3-4 months. Their average cost can vary from $15, 000 to $50,000.
Complex web apps
This category includes enterprise websites for large-scale businesses. They can include a lot of exclusive features, large databases, and tons of content. The development cost can reach (but is not limited to) $250,000, and the average development time is half a year.
How can Appinventiv help in your web app development journey?
At Appinventiv, we have worked on several innovative web applications to help businesses create apps that customers would love and embrace.
For instance, we helped the Qatar government to build a web app, Hukoomi, through which it can interact with the netizens. The app acts as a single source of information for everyone who stays, works, or visits the country.
Ever since the app has been launched, more than 2.6 million users have engaged with the app, and currently, more than 1900+ services are available on the web app.
In case, you are also looking for top-notch web application development services, contact us. Our experts will help you develop an innovative web application for your business and assist you in the entire development process.
Q. What is web application development?
Web application development is the complex process of designing, building, testing, and deploying a web-based app.
Q. What are the benefits of developing a web application?
Some of the key benefits of developing a web application for your business are:
- Improved efficiency
- Easy installation and maintenance
- 24*7 accessibility
- Highly secure
Q. What is the cost of developing a web application?
The average cost of developing a web application can vary from $5,000 to $250,000+. However, this is just a rough estimate as it is dependent on several factors such as the app’s complexity, features and functionality, and more.
Q. How to build a web application?
If you are still wondering how to develop a web application, you need to follow the below-mentioned steps:
- Define your goals
- Research your competition
- Hire an app development company
- Choose intuitive UI/UX
- Build MVP
- Test your app
- Launch your app
- Track the performance of the app