Everything you need to know about web application development

Avatar of Andy Jones by Andy Jones , 11 Apr 2022 Web Application Development

The experience that modern users expect online has evolved way beyond that offered by traditional, static websites.

Today’s users expect instant access to web applications with dynamic and interactive online services that they can use to browse social feeds, buy products and manage transactions in real-time.

This is one of the main reasons why the global progressive web application market size is expected to reach $10.44 billion (£7.8 billion) by 2027… but what is a web application, exactly?

In this article, we’re going to look at everything you need to know about how to develop a web-based application, including what a web app is, the advantages and disadvantages of developing a web app, and more.

What is a web application?

A web application is different from a website, as it’s not a set of pages that display static content but an application that displays dynamic content, which the user can interact with in real-time to complete tasks.

For instance, an app visitor can use a web app to use features like online forms, shopping carts, spreadsheets, instant messaging, and file conversion to use each function independently.

Web apps are one of the most popular types of applications available today that many providers use in solutions, including Google Docs, Netflix, Trello, and Microsoft Office. These apps can be built in a variety of programming languages, including JavaScript, Python, and Java.

What type of web applications are there? And which is best?

There are several types of web apps that you can create. These include:

1. Static web apps

Delivers content to the user’s browser without collecting data from the server. Usually built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

2. Dynamic web apps

Generates data in real-time in response to user requests. Examples include Netflix and Facebook.

3. Single page apps

A single page app that doesn’t require page reloading and runs in the web browser. Examples include PayPal and Pinterest.

4. Multiple page apps

A web app with multiple pages that reloads whenever a user clicks on a new page. Examples include Google Docs and Trello.

5. Content management system (CMS)

A platform that allows you to manage digital content to help create and modify content without coding. Examples include WordPress and Drupal.

6. Progressive web apps

Cross-platform web apps that use APIs to offer a near native experience.

The type of web application you choose to develop should depend on the needs of your end-users and the features you want to provide to them. That being said, if you want to offer users optimal performance, then building a progressive web app is the way to go.

A progressive web app will enable your users to load information faster than any other type of app and can help you offer an optimal user experience. Likewise, the wide range of APIs and technologies you have available also enables you to support more features and functionalities.

Advantages of building a web app

Many organisations choose to build web apps as they provide a faster time-to-market than native mobile apps, which need to be approved by an app store.

At the same time, an organisation only needs to invest time and money into building a single web application rather than building a native app for each platform.

Another key advantage web apps have over mobile or native apps is that they’re accessible through a web browser on any platform, meaning that the app can reach a wider cross-section of users than it could if it was tethered to a native platform (particularly when considering that search engines also direct users to your app).

Lastly, web applications can work offline (providing that the user has loaded some of the information with an internet connection). This is worth highlighting as users can have access to certain preloaded features offline, whether that’s news content or a video game.

Disadvantages of building a web app

The main disadvantage of building a web app is that it’s dependent on an internet connection. If the user’s internet goes down, they can’t access any of its features if they don’t have it preloaded.

Another disadvantage is that web apps have limited access to native functions on devices, such as device cameras and location services.

It’s also worth noting that you miss out on the convenience of having your app listed on the App Store or Google Play, a channel where users will regularly search for new apps (though this is offset somewhat by having your app being discoverable on a search engine).

Options for building a web app: DIY or outsourcing to a web development company

When it comes to building a web app, you can choose to build it yourself or outsource it to a third party.

Choosing to build the app yourself can be rewarding as you have complete creative control, providing you have the internal expertise and resources to develop a high-quality end product.

If you don’t have a team of software developers within your organisation, then the answer to how to develop a web-based application is outsourcing to an experienced third-party provider.

In short, a third party will take responsibility for the development process and ensure that you have an app that’s built with the latest best practices in mind.

You’ll also have the advantage of avoiding the upfront cost for producing the application, only needing to pay for the services of the third-party development team.

Reach the largest possible audience

Building a web application, adding a digital product or SaaS platform are some of the most effective ways a new or existing business can provide value to its visitors. It will change your site into a passive set of web pages into a dynamic and interactive experience that visitors can use to complete tasks independently.

If you can’t decide whether to create a web or mobile app, consider that if your users use desktop devices, you’re most likely to reach the largest possible audience by taking the web app approach.

Need help building a web app that engages your users?

If you’d like to know more about how to develop web-based application or you’d like to team up with us at Make IT Simple for your unique project…

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