Great Things You Need to Know About Web Application Development in 2023

Nowadays, modern people spend a lot of time on their mobile devices. For example, Americans spend an average of 5.4 hours a day on their mobile phones, like checking out emails, scrolling through social media, binge-watching TV shows, and shopping online. In this context, web application development is growing at an unprecedented pace. Do you know Web application? Web application, like an app on the phone but designed to run on a browser with personalised and interactive users experience.

So, how to make a web application that meets or even exceeds customer expectations. Starting with AgileTech now, from our 8-year-of-experience, we are happy to provide you with our insight on Website and Web App Development. In this article, we will discuss what is web application, its advantages and disadvantages, steps to build a web app and how much does it cost to build a web app. Let’s begin with web app’s definition.

web application

1. What is a Web Application?

A web application is a software that runs in your web browser. You can use it in your browser on desktop computer, laptop or mobile device such as smartphone or tablet.  Businesses can use it to exchange information and deliver services, as well as connect with customers conveniently 

One of well-known examples you may know is Google’s web apps: Gmail, Google Sheets, Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Forms… All of them have sharing and online working functions.  

So, what are the differences between web apps and websites? Let’s take a closer look and find out their differences:

WebsiteWeb Application
– Low Interaction
– Less Functions
– High Interaction
– More Functions (Post, Upload file, Export Report…)
Created by HTML and other resources (pictures, sounds, videos…)Created by HTML and Backend Code (PHP, C#, Java…)
Used to store and display somethingUsed to perform functions of only a app

About web app development, it is the process of creating software applications that run on remote servers and are delivered to users through the internet. These applications can be accessed through a web browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, and do not require any installation on the user’s device. Web app development involve some tasks like:

  • Making sure the built web app offers compatibility with both Android and iOS
  • Identifying life cycle and optimisation metrics
  • Building an intelligent and interactive user interface

2. Types of Web Applications

2.1. Static Web Application

It is the most basic type of web app, lack of interactivity and is hard to update. It only can handle some animated content such as GIFs and videos.

Tech stack: CSS and HTML 

Examples of Static Web App:

  • Landing Pages: These websites are designed to promote a product or service and encourage visitors to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or purchasing a product.
  • Personal Blogs: These websites are owned by individuals to share their thoughts, experiences, hobbies with the world. They can cover a wide range of topics, from personal stories to professional advice.
  • Portfolio Websites: These websites showcase the work and skills of an individual or a company. They are usually simple and elegant, with a focus on visual design

2.2. Dynamic Web Application

Its page display can change each time a page is refreshed or new input is added. It also have an administration panel from which administrators can modify or correct the app’s content, including text and images.

Tech stack: PHP and ASP (these are easier to understand when it comes to structuring content) 

Examples of Dynamic Web App:

  • Social Networking Websites: These websites allow users to connect and interact with each other online. They typically include features such as user profiles, messaging systems, and news feeds. (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn… are famous example)
  • Real-time Chat Applications: These web apps allow users to communicate with each other in real-time using text, voice or voice chat. They typically include features such as message notifications, user presence indicators and file sharing capabilities.
  • Online Marketplaces: These websites allow users to connect and interact with each other online. They typically include features such as listings, search functionality and rating systems.

2.3. E-Commerce Web Application

It is a dynamic web app that supports browser-based shopping and manage the products, orders and payment database and enable online transactions between buyers and sellers. They typically include features such as shopping carts, payment gateways, and order tracking.

Here are some examples of E-commerce Web App:

  • Amazon- one of the largest E-commerce websites in the world includes shopping cart, payment gateway, order management system and product recommendation engine.
  • Shopify – a platform that allow users to create their own e-commerce websites includes website builder, payment gateway, inventory management system and marketing tools.
  • Walmart – a large retailer that offers wide range of product both online and in-store includes shopping cart, payment gateway, order management system and product search engine.

2.4. Portal Web Application

It is also a dynamic web app that includes various sections and categories which are accessible on the homepage and contains various details (such as email, chat, forum, user registration, etc.). It allows users to log into a secured or gated area for services, personalised access and user-centric navigation based on users’ needs.

Here are some examples of Portal Web App:

  • Job Portals: These web apps allow job seekers to search for job openings and apply for positions online. They typically include features such as course catalogs, grade books, and online learning platforms
  • Education Portals: These web apps provide educational resources and tools for students, teachers, and administrators. They typically include features such as course catalogs, grade books, and online learning platforms. (You may know Udemy or Coursera, they are among the most famous education web apps in the world)
  • Health Portals: These web apps provide information and services for patients, healthcare providers, and researchers. They typically include features such as patient portals, electronic health records (EHRs), and medical research databases.

2.5. Content Management System (CMS) Web Application

It allows users to create and manage content without technical knowledge and assists users in creation, modification, maintenance or blogging purposes with little to no technical or programming knowledge. It is always used for publishing or blogging purposes and aimed to enhance the speed and productivity of website building for non-technical people.

Here are some examples of CMS Web App:

  • WordPress: is one of the most popular CMS web apps in the world, used by million of websites. It allows users to create and manage their digital content such as blog posts, pages and media files. It also includes features such as user authentication, themes, plugins and SEO optimisation tools.
  • Wix: is another popular CMS web app that allows users to create and manage website content without needing to know how to code. It offers user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, a wide range of templates and themes, and integrations with third-party services such as social media platforms and e-commerce tools.
  • Drupal: is used by a wide range of websites, from small blogs to large enterprises. It offers similar features to WordPress, including content creation and management tools, as well as advanced customization options for developers.

2.6. Progressive Web Application (PWA)

It provides users with an app-like experience on the web, which benefits them from its functions: working offline, sending push notifications, being added to user’s home screen without going through an app. PWA uses the latest browser APIs, features and progressive enhancement methods with a goal of increasing the versatility of web apps in the face of poor internet connection.

It is considers as one of the most well-developed types of web apps that look similar to native mobile apps

Tech Stack: Javascript, HTML, CSS, etc. 

According to Frances Barriman and Alex Russell, the original Google engineers who gave PWAs their name, PWAs fit the following criteria: responsive, connectivity independent, app-like interactions, fresh, safe, discoverable, re-engageable , installable, linkable

Here are some examples of Progressive Web App:

  • Twitter Lite: is a PWA that offers a lightweight version of the Twitter app for users with slow internet connections or limited data plans. It includes features such as notifications, offline support, and a data saver mode.
  • Pinterest: allows users to browse and save pins from the Pinterest Platform, even when they are offline. It includes features such as push notifications, home screen installation and fast loading times.
  • Starbucks: allows users to order and pay for their drinks online, as well as find nearby stores and track their rewards points. It includes features such as geolocation, push notifications, and offline support.

3. Pros and Cons of Web Application Development

3.1. Advantages

  • Multi-Platform: Web apps, using web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, can be accessed from any device or operating system, which makes them highly compatible with multiple platforms.  Developers don’t need to spend much time and effort on building separate versions for different operating systems. 
  • No installation required: Users do not need to download and install web apps, which can make them more convenient to use.
  • Cost-effective: With a single codebase, developers can create a web app that can be accessed across multiple devices, reducing the need for separate development teams or resources.
  • Seamless Collaboration and Sharing: Web apps easily facilitate collaboration and sharing among users. Multiple individuals can access and work on the same application simultaneously, regardless of physical location. This is particularly useful for team projects, document collaboration and real-time updates.
  • Easy to Update and Maintain: Since web apps are centrally hosted on servers, updates and maintenance can be performed on the server side. Users don’t need to manually update their apps as they will automatically access the latest version when accessing the web app. This makes it easier for developers to fix bugs, introduce new features and ensure consistent user experiences.

3.2. Disadvantages

  • Reliance on Internet Access: Web Apps rely on an internet connection to function properly, often requiring a stable internet connection to access and process data. If the connection is slow or unavailable, the user experience may be negatively affected and some features may not function properly. 
  • Security Concern: Web Apps may be more vulnerable to security threats, such as hacking or data breaches as web apps generally do not come with quality control features.
  • Browser Compatibility Issues: Different web browsers interpret and execute web technologies differently, which can lead to compatibility issues. Web developers need to ensure their apps are compatible across multiple browsers and versions, requiring additional testing and maintenance efforts to ensure consistent performance and appearance.

4. Steps of Building a Web Application

4.1. Define the idea

Every process of creating an app first starts with an idea. You need to make sure that your app could solve the problem almost everyone has and improve users’ daily lives. Please remember to answer the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of your web app?
  • Who are your target users?
  • What features and functionality will you need to include in your app?

4.2. Conduct Market Research

Remember to conduct market research to understand accurately your target customers and target market. Who will be served by your web app? Does it have a highly specified target market or a more generalised appeal? Where do most of your users live? And which devices do your users use? Having and answering these questions will help you better understand how consumers interact with your brands and more.

Getting an insight into your users and your competitors could help you save a lot of time to inform the right technical direction for your web app.

4.3. Define your app’s functionality

It’s very important to have the right features in your app to make sure you solve your target audiences’ problems. Unnecessary features might leave your users frustrated and make them uninstall your app. 

A trusted advice we want to give is that focusing on your simple functionalities in the early development stages because adding unnecessary features will lengthen your development time and add to the cost.

4.4. Create a Wireframe & Prototype

Next step in the development process is to create wireframes and prototypes for your web app. This step involves

  • Wireframe: designing your web app’s blueprint
  • Prototyping: adding an interactive display

Make sure your web app design is easy to use and accessible to all users, consider some factors such as font size, colour contrast and navigation structure when designing. And don’t forget to test them with users to gather feedback and make improvements.

4.5. Build Your Web App

Starting with back-end development, first, you build the server-side of your web app, including the database, APIs, and server-side logic. 

Turning to front-end development, you should build the server-side of your web app, including user interface, client-side logic, and then integrate it with the back-end.

When developing, the first step toward is to build an MVP that ensures low development costs and effort. This could help you define how many users accept your app idea before investing more money into scaling your app.

4.6. Test

When creating an app, it’s important to test your web application for bugs and errors, and debug any issues that arise. Depending on the web app functionalities and features, following testing methods can be used:

  • UI/UX Testing: evaluate components’ interactivity with customers
  • Functionality Testing: determine whether the web app meets the specified requirements
  • Regression Testing: check if modification breaks the website’s overall flow
  • Compatibility Testing: check the software’s functionality utilising an operating system, an app, mobile devices and a network environment.

4.7. Deploy and Launch

In this step, you need to choose a server, purchase a domain name and mount an SSL certificate, then pick a cloud provider and launch it for public use.

After deployment, remember to regularly maintain and update your web app to ensure it remains secure, stable and up-to-date with the latest technologies and user needs.

5. Tech Stack

  • Languages: Node.js, Ruby on Rails, and Java
  • Frontend: JavaScript, HTML, CSS
  • Backend: Laravel, Ruby on Rails, Django
  • Database: MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB
  • Server: Apache, Nginx
  • Cloud Platforms: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

6. Top Web Application Development Ideas You Should Consider

6.1. E-Commerce Platform

Develop an online store that allows customers to browse products, add items to their cart, and make purchases securely. Consider integrating with payment gateways, inventory management systems, and shipping providers.

A web screen of an E-Commerce Platform built by Shopify

6.2. Social Media Platform

Build a social media platform that allows users to create profiles, connect with others, share content, and engage in conversations. Consider incorporating features such as messaging, notifications, and privacy settings.

A web screen of Facebook News Feed – one of the most famous Social Media Platform

6.3. Online Booking System

Create a web application that allows users to book appointments, reservations, or tickets online. Consider integrating with calendars, payment gateways, and email notifications.

A web screen of Maby – a Nail Salon Booking App

6.4. Education Platform

Create a web application that allows users to book appointments, reservations, or tickets online. Consider integrating with calendars, payment gateways, and email notifications.

A web screen of Udemy – one of the most famous education web apps in the world

6.5. Health & Wellness Platform

Build a web application that helps users track their fitness, nutrition, and mental health. Consider incorporating features such as goal setting, progress tracking, and social support.

A web screen of MyFitnessPal – a weight loss and fitness app that helps members reach their nutrition and fitness goals

6.6. Travel Planning Platform

Create a web application that helps users plan their travel itinerary, find accommodations, and discover local attractions. Consider integrating with maps, reviews, and booking systems.

A web screen of TripAdvisor – an online travel information and booking website that has reviews, photographs, and informative forums

6.7. Job Search Platform

Develop a web application that connects job seekers with employers, allows users to create profiles, search for jobs, and apply online. Consider incorporating features such as resume builders, job alerts, and interview scheduling.

A web screen of UpWork – a freelancing platform where you can find and apply for various type of work online

These are just a few ideas to consider when developing a web application. It’s important to carefully evaluate the needs and requirements of the project, and choose the technologies and features that best fit those needs.

7. How much does it cost to build a Web Application?

There is no exact answer to this question. The cost of developing a web app is different from platform to platform and depending on its complexity (from simple, medium to complex), an average number can range somewhere from $5000 to $250,000. You should choose the type of your web app to know exactly. A dedicated developer can cost several thousand dollars per month, choosing to outsource to countries such as Vietnam can significantly save your cost. 

Conclusion

Overall, web apps offer great accessibility, cross-platform compatibility and easy maintenance but they may have limitations in terms of offline functionality, performances and access. Statista has reported that many customer-focused apps built with low-code increase business revenue. Web app development, now, is one of the fastest growing markets in the world as its benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Deciding on a web app for your business gives you opportunities that you won’t get with a basic website.

If you are looking for a technical partner to assist you in accelerating your time to market with an intense experience in web app development, AgileTech is always here and provides you the best services. Our experienced teams have helped many businesses across the world build their web app in various industries. 

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