Think of all the web apps you have used over the last week. Your favorite news page, Facebook, shopping pages – you probably can’t even count the number of websites you visited. If you want to find gifts, book a hotel room, or schedule a doctor’s appointment, the internet is most likely the first place you go to do that. 80% of major purchases start with online research, even if the purchase itself happens in a store. So isn’t it kind of shocking that 1 in 4 small businesses still don’t have a website or a web app? Especially looking at the wide variety of benefits web apps can offer businesses. The right web app can take your business to the next level by showing yourself as a trustworthy partner that cares about its customers. However, how do you create a fully-featured web app that your customers will love? If you don’t have the skills or time to make one yourself, that’s where web development services come in.
What is Web Development?
Web development is the entire process of building, designing, testing, and maintaining websites and web apps. This refers to all the work that goes into making a web app look great, perform well, and have a seamless user experience – web design, web content development, client-side/server-side scripting, network security configuration, and sometimes SEO optimization.
In most cases, full-stack web developers create these products by crafting long lines of code in a text editor, styling it using CSS, and then putting all elements together. But nowadays, they can also use programs such as Adobe Dreamweaver or Content Management systems to set up a new website without writing everything from scratch.
Web developers are usually divided into front-end devs, back-end devs, and full-stack devs. Front-end development professionals are responsible for all the visual components of a website (layout, navigation bar, etc.). Front-end developers are also responsible for its functionality and interactivity.
Backend developers handle-less visible tasks and development topics such as managing the web app services, database, and applications. Backend developers might also need to use additional server-side languages, such as Python, Ruby, Java, and PHP to resolve server issues with back-end development. Full-stack developers meanwhile are able to do both front-end and back-end tasks.
What tools do web developers use?
Typically, when people talk about web app development tools, they mean the apps and languages that allow developers to write and debug the code for web applications – HTML, Java, and CSS. But as the digital world evolves, so does the role of a web developer.
Today, they have to know more than just writing code snippets. They have to be familiar with visual aspects, UI/UX responsive design, prototyping, wire-framing, cybersecurity, SEO, and much more. The good news is that there are plenty of web development tools available now that can help developers accomplish those tasks without having to start from scratch – from design platforms like Sketch and Invision to testing programs like Postman and collaboration software like Slack and Asana.
Meanwhile, Back-End Developers will typically use server-side languages, including PHP, Ruby, and Python, as well as tools like MySQL, Oracle, and Git.
How does the web app development process look like?
Building a fully-functional web app through a web development company is a little more complicated than creating one through WordPress or Joomla since developers need to complete a number of steps before your web app can go live. In return though, you can be sure that your web app will be visually appealing, fully optimized and user-friendly. What steps do developers need to take to build a fully-functional website?
- Information gathering: First, developers must gather all the information they will need for the project. So during this stage they will analyze the client’s needs, define the web apps’ main goals, and learn more about the target audience. Also, the designers should become familiar with the future content types as that will help them decide on the main layout for the web app.
- Planning: Based on the information gathered in phase one, developers will create a detailed action plan and design a site map describing all major sections of the web app. A well-described and detailed plan based on this pre-development data can protect you from spending extra resources on solving unexpected issues such as design changing or adding important features that weren’t initially planned.
- Design: During the design phase, your web app begins to take shape as the entire visual content, such as images, photos, and videos is created. The team will also draw one or more prototypes for the website in the form of a static image that will describe how the final website will look like and clarify the basic functionality of the web app.
- Development: With the prep-work done, the developers can start creating the web app itself using the graphics designed during the previous stage. The main page is typically created first, then all sub-pages are added, according to the web app hierarchy. Finally, features and interactive elements are added.
- Testing: Testing is probably the most routine but also one of the most important parts of web app development. Developers will check every link to ensure there aren’t any broken ones among them, and they will make sure that all scripts and features run correctly. They will also check the code with code validators to make sure it follows current web standards.
- Launch: Once you are given final approval from the client, it is time for the web app to go live. But before that, the site should be a run-through for the last time to confirm that all files have been uploaded correctly, and the site is fully functional.
- Maintenance: Once the web app goes live, e.g. full-stack development team needs to keep an eye on it to make sure no new bugs appear and to perform server maintenance once in a while.
How long does it take to get your new development projects up and running? It’s difficult to say, as building a web app from scratch requires time, even for the simple ones. And if you are thinking about creating a customized web app with specific features, then you might be looking at a timeline of several months even.
Where can you learn more about web app development?
Are you interested in learning more about coding and development? Online resources make it easier than ever before. Thousands of books, articles, webinars, guides, and tutorials are available straight away – just type in “Web development learning resources” into a search engine, and you’ll get 7,570,000,00 results!
But, when surfing the internet, it is important to be cautious, since not all courses or blogs are valuable – you can also find a lot of outdated or downright useless information from various so-called “experts”. What are some resources you can use to learn more about building a web app?
- Course websites such as Udemy, Coursera, Codeacademy or TutorialsPoint
- Online communities like freeCodeCamp, Stack Overflow, Roadmap, DevChallenges, or simply boards and social media groups focused around web development.
- Online study platforms like Treehouse, Scrimba or W3School
- Industry blogs like A List Apart, Codrops, CSS Author, or CrustLab blog.
Joining groups and forums can be an especially useful way to learn more about web app development. Inside those groups, you can meet people interested in the same things as you, find mentors who can assist you with a problem, or get access to many free resources only available to members.
What types of web apps are there?
In the early days of the internet, web apps were purely “static.” The content was coded in HTML and could not be modified unless edited by a webmaster. Now while the static web apps are still in use, they have largely fallen out of favor within development projects though due to their inability to adapt to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
As more and more people use mobile devices to access the internet, businesses are trying to find ways in which they could offer a good user experience both on their desktop websites and mobile ones. This is where they start considering alternatives to static websites, like dynamic or responsive pages. How are they different?
- Static web apps: Static pages are among the simplest kinds of web apps as they consist of a fixed number of pre-rendered pages with hardcoded, pre-determined content and structure. This means that each user will see exactly the same content regardless of their location, browser, or device used. While this type of web app is cheaper and easier to create, they are not very convenient for modern users, especially those who use mobile devices. For companies that only need a simple web app with a few pages, a static one can still work well though.
- Dynamic web apps: Unlike static web apps, the content shown on dynamic web app can be customized for each user based on the information stored in the web app’s database. This makes them far more popular with users because the web app can provide relevant content, responsive design, offers, and suggestions based on what the users did previously on the web app. Dynamic pages are also easier to update because the webmaster only has to make changes to the database record to alter the content.
- Hybrid web apps: Hybrid web apps are the “best of both worlds” as they can include both static and dynamic elements on the web app to create a single uniform design for desktop development or other development projects.
- Mobile web apps: Although a mobile web app might look like a smaller version of a desktop site, this isn’t exactly true. As mobile device screens are much smaller and our fingers aren’t as precise as mouse cursors, opening a desktop website on a mobile device can be tricky (if not impossible). A good mobile website adapts the content and navigation to suit the screen size so that mobile visitors can find the information or take action as quickly as possible. Additionally, images, videos, and animations are usually removed as well, due to bandwidth restrictions on people’s data plans, as well as their tendency to slow down the mobile web apps.
- Responsive web apps: Most companies today opt for responsive web design as it can provide the best experience for users regardless of the device they use. Those pages are designed to adjust themselves to fit on any size screen and device, from the biggest desktops to the smallest smartphones, ensuring that the web app looks good and works fast both on mobile phones but also on tablets or desktops.
- Custom web apps: A custom web app is specifically created for your brand, product, or company and is tailored to your target audience. If you would like something that stands out from the rest of development basics or have a complex web app in mind with multiple features and content types, then custom design might be what you need.
Factors to take into account when outsourcing web app development
You can see that there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to creating your own web app – from the type of the web app to the design, security, content, and several other things. That’s why it’s so hard to estimate how much time it might take to set up your company’s main page or how much it might cost, even for experienced web app development companies. But having a ready list of needs and expectations for the website can greatly assist them in deciding how best to design your web app. What should you include inside such a list for an outsourcing web app development partner?
- Your main goal for the web app
- Who is your target audience you want to reach
- Hands-on experience or client-side coding / popular programming languages to be used
- What type of content you will have on the site and what functionality do you need on it
- How big your page should be (ideally if you had a rough structure of the page)
- What are your ideas for the design and images (e.g. drop-down menus, style sheets, any fundamental building block, special back-end development tactics)
- The level of compatibility and responsiveness you need for your website
- What level of security do you need (and scripting languages)
- Where should it be hosted – locally, in a data center, or through a cloud service provider like AWS or Microsoft Azure
- What do you need in terms of front-end web app development, development skills, programming language skills, or even building blocks, as well as other development basics
The benefits of hiring a professional web developer
Although modern content management systems like WordPress allow almost anyone to create their digital products easily, they are usually quite limited in terms of features or customization options. That is why most companies choose either to work on the web apps themselves or hire a web development team to design and maintain their company web apps.
Creating the web app itself has the advantage that the company will have full control over the development process and be able to monitor its progress. However, doing it in-house might quickly become a burden to their team if they don’t have the necessary skills or time to work on designing and testing the website.
Especially for more complex web apps, it may make more sense to speak with a full-stack web development company. What are some of the advantages of getting help from a professional?
- By hiring a web development team, you can focus on running your business as usual while the development team will set up the web app for you.
- You can employ a web developer either to assist you in designing your web app or to do it for you and deliver the finished product.
- Web development companies have the skills and knowledge to get your web app up and running quickly, within your budget, and with a fantastic user experience. Plus, they also know what to do if something doesn’t work out as planned, so you don’t have to worry about your business.
- They know how to enhance your web app’s speed, performance, and security with various plugins, so you can be sure it all is fully optimized.
- Besides setting up your web app, they can help you with all the technical aspects of your site, such as cloud hosting, security, maintenance, and SEO.
- Their knowledge of the latest technologies and industry trends will help you create a more appealing, functional, and up-to-date web app.
Regardless of the industry, desktop development hands-on projects can have a tremendous impact on its success. Even in this day and age, some businesses are unaware that most of their customers may use their web app before making a purchase. What if there is no web app they can use, or no website they can visit? They might conclude that your business is untrustworthy.
That’s why having a strong online presence in the form of a web app is essential for success for your business. The good news is that getting a fast and clean web app for your business is now easier than ever before. With the help of a full-stack web development company, you will be able to set up your own web app in no time, even if you don’t know how to code. So maybe it would be worth it to start with a new web app?