Web Applications: Definition, Development, and Details
We review the definition of web application development, and review some different types of web apps and their benefits.
What is a Web Application?
A web application can be defined in many ways, but perhaps the most concise and easy-to-understand definition we have found comes from TechTerms: “A web application or “web app” is a software program that runs on a web server. Unlike traditional desktop applications, which are launched by your operating system, web apps must be accessed through a web browser.”
Banking applications, search engines, email client programs, and instant messaging apps are good examples of web applications. Web applications such as these rely on users’ interaction and inputs to return results.
What Is Web Application Development?
Web application development is defined as the process of creating custom web apps. A customized web application can help your business grow exponentially and strengthen the relationship you enjoy with customers. Companies choose to develop web applications for several reasons. For branding, an organization can use a web app to promote their brand, improve communications between the potential/existing customers and the organization, distribute product knowledge, increase sales opportunities, and open up new sales channels. For customer support, web apps provide faster access and resolution capabilities, sometimes around the clock.
In today’s technological world, users have high expectations when they are online, and are seeking smooth and positive experiences. The following adjectives describe what a good custom-developed web app looks like:
- Easy to Maintain
- Accessible (learn more about web and mobile software accessibility)
Web applications have huge potential, but building one is a big decision that requires the help of a trusted partner. It’s essential to partner with a development company that can navigate today’s technological landscape while keeping your business goals top of mind.
What Is Progressive Web App Development?
Progressive web apps, or PWAs, offer companies and their customers a unique blend of benefits. This next generation of web applications includes power-ups such as push notifications, multi-device hardware access, and the ability to work offline. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) provide users with a mobile-like experience and the benefits of instant accessibility from a browser. Progressive web apps eliminate the need to visit an app store, conduct downloads or complete repeated updates. They do not require a large allocation of memory resources, either. A really simple way to think of a progressive web app is a website that looks and acts like a mobile app.
There are many benefits to progressive web apps, including the following:
- Leverage native mobile device features without burdening the user
- Less expensive to build because they can be built faster and only one version needs to be created
- Users can access features straight from their browser without having to purchase anything or download an app that consumes data
- App is continually updated with the latest version every time it is launched
Progressive web apps offer users an improved mobile experience, and when designed properly have the ability to set a company apart from their competition. Technology can streamline things behind the scenes to increase mobile conversions, improve user engagement and speed up load times. PWAs even enable companies to offer quality in-app content while bypassing traditional app stores.
>>> Learn more: Progressive Web Apps: 7 Resources for Businesses and Developers
What is the Difference between Web and Mobile App Development?
The true meaning of a “web application” is changing, and lines between mobile and web development continue to blur. While mobile application development traditionally differed from web application development, web-based and mobile-based apps are increasingly merging. The result is often a Progressive Web App (PWA), as mentioned above. Mobile apps bring businesses to consumers no matter what device they are using or their location, and custom mobile apps can boost brand presence, revenue, and reputation.
>>Read about Praxent’s 4-step process to developing mobile applications.
The Web App Development Process
It’s important to define a development process for your web app that includes time to discover and learn objective upfront, then validate these assumptions and goals before jumping into any design or development. Only after that should UX and design work begin, followed by the actual development. The steps can be roughly outlined as follows:
Web App Development Specialties
There are many development services that reap rewards for the companies who use them. Because web app development requires experience and multiple technical skills, many companies choose to hire design and development agencies to do the work for them. By outsourcing in this way, companies can reduce risk, control costs, and shorten the time-to-market considerably.
Not all development companies do things the same way. However, you should expect the company you choose to be well versed in the following six core competencies.
Content Management System (CMS) Services
These web apps are designed to support the management of web page content, including text, graphics, and program code. WordPress, Drupal, and Django are popular examples of a web application as CMS.
Enabling customers to make purchases on a website dramatically increases sales, margins, and lead times. By creating a customized web app to handle orders and payments, organizations can tailor the customer experience to their exact needs. This is a complex and important option that your development team needs to be able to handle if or when your app needs it.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to gaining traffic from organic, search-driven inquiries. Organizations who maximize their SEO presence rank higher in searches and attract the audience they are seeking. If you’re considering creating a web app that will be marketed to customers across the Web, the development team you choose needs to be well-versed in the tenets of SEO.
Websites must go through extensive, real QA testing to check for glitches or friction in the application before it is launched to the public. A capable web app development company should define their quality controls before development in order to ensure a smooth launch.
An API (Application Programming Interface) is often needed in order to connect a website’s functionality with third-party services or internal systems. In other words, APIs enable two applications to talk to each other. Developers should be able to ensure that the website can interact with whichever data sources it needs to provide the information visitors are seeking.
When searching for web app development, be sure to define the top capabilities you need before you choose, in order to create an app that will drive revenue and visitors. Be sure to select a partner you can trust, who will listen to your needs and design the solution that is best suited to you.
When your web app can’t fail, finding the right partner is critical.
It’s time to think critically about about what makes a design & development partner qualified to deliver on your project. Download our handy checklist today!