Web Application Development: Guidelines and Strategies

Web apps are practically dynamic websites that use the client-server model and offer a wide functionality, including user interaction, back-end database connection and browser result generation. Web applications can be used for different purposes - you can build an app for social networking, online shopping, banking services, instant messaging, online reservations, auctions, games, education, surveys, blogs, forums, accounting, content management and so on.

Web Architecture: how to Create a Web App?

There are two principal approaches to web app development:

  • Client-side scripting - client-scripting programs are a class of web applications that are executed by the user’s web browser, i.e. client-side. The source code of such apps is visible to all users, who can access it by viewing the file that contains it. There is a great variety of client-side scripting tools and technologies, including the following ones:
    • Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML
    • Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS
    • JavaScript
    • Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, or Ajax
    • jQuery, which is the most popular JavaScript library designed to facilitate the client-side scripting
    • My Object-Oriented Tools, or MooTools, which is an object-oriented JavaScript framework
    • Dojo Toolkit, which is an open source JavaScript library used in cross-platform, JavaScript, Ajax and web development.

Backend

  • Server-side scripting - applications built with server-side scripting techniques are executed on a web server. The source code of server-side scripting apps is not visible to users. The most modern techniques and tools for server-side scripting are:
  • Hypertext Preprocessor, or PHP - a general purpose programming language widely used in server-side scripting, which can be combined with various database servers, like MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server and more.
  • ASP.NET - an open-source web app framework by Microsoft.
  • Active Server Pages, or ASP - ASP.NET’s predecessor, Microsoft server-side script engine.
  • Zend Framework, or ZF - an object-oriented web application framework for PHP.
  • Adobe ColdFusion - a rapid web application development platform.
  • Perl - a free general-purpose dynamic programming language, which lost its popularity with the introduction of PHP.
  • Ruby on Rails - a free web application framework written in Ruby.
  • Python - high-level, general-purpose, interpreted, dynamic programming language distributed for free.

Software Libraries

In computing, libraries are collections of resources like configuration data, subordinates, functions, message templates and more, which are commonly used by programmers to easily build functionality into different types of apps. In other words, it is routine operations for programs stored in one place in object format. In the Windows environment libraries traditionally have a .DLL extension.

Web frameworks, or web application frameworks incorporate software libraries, templating frameworks, and other tools organised in architectural patterns to help developers program and support sophisticated web applications in the most efficient and fast manner. Web app frameworks are aimed at facilitating programming and engineering - many of them promote code reuse by providing examples of folder structure and organisation, tutorials on database connection, architectural patterns, managing entities, etc.

  • Logical (program actions and views) and design parts (including HTML and CSS) are separated from each other. It allows different departments involved in development, for instance, designers who are not proficient in coding, to edit the interface and change the web application design without assistance from programmers.
  • Web frameworks modularise code and provide tools and libraries that enable developers to rapidly implement sophisticated features and functionality and easily share libraries.
  • The structural layout enables developers to write quality code, that keeps it up-to-date with the standards, therefore allowing others to examine the code within the shortest time possible.

Coding conventions are a set of guidelines that lay down the rules for programming various aspects of a web application. These rules and standards encompass programming style, principles, folder structure, programming practices, indentation, formatting, classes, architecture and much more. These guidelines also ensure that the comment and the documentation are uniform in order to improve the readability of the source code and make it uniform throughout various apps and their constituents.

  • If you follow coding conventions, you make life much easier for the other developers working on the same project.
  • Coding standards make the program easier to maintain and update.
  • Other programmers can easily understand the code that has been written in accordance with the conventions.

Approaches to Web Application Development

Web app development is a complex process that involves the participation of many experts, specialising in different areas of IT and working in groups. However, there are as many web application development processes as there are development companies, because each mobile and web development agency has their own established procedures and strategies for app creation.

Some web firms apply traditional methods of the systems development life cycle, or SDLC like the waterfall model or a more innovative Agile software development approach.

  • The waterfall model is a classical approach to software design, in which the development process is completed in successive stages - app discovery, specification of requirements, analytical research, architectural design, concepts and mockups, programming, testing, code examination, bug fixing, implementation, deployment, and maintenance.
  • Agile software development methodology is an approach, in which web programming is made in small iterations by self-organised teams of experts in collaboration with the client. It enables developers to supply the customer with the fully operational software within the shortest periods of time and allows them to effectively introduce changes to the product even at the final stages of development.

Building an app from scratch

Every software development company has its own app development process, which identifies the procedures and strategies for the developer’s teams to follow when working on a project. Of course, there are common web application development practices, which are indispensable for each and every app design company, for example, the following documents, which ensure that all the nuances of the software lifecycle are recorded:

  • Project outline, which identifies the purpose of the web app, project objectives and strategies.
  • Audience research and analysis, formalised security documentation.
  • Technical specifications and a summary of the features of the future application.
  • Team cooperation and project management documentation.
  • Functional specifications, technological requirements and interactive prototypes of the web app.
  • App wireframe and architecture, development methodology, upgrade, optimisation and growth plan, hardware/software requirements.
  • Market research and analysis, third-party services and platforms selection: merchant account/payment gateway, colocation/dedicated server, SSL certificate, fulfillment house, self-service checkout systems, website analytics tools, etc.
  • App mockup, design layout, app prototype, interface, database design, web app development paperwork.
  • Testing documents: quality assurance management, data security, cross-browser compatibility, app performance (load impact and stress tests), and usability.

Web App Testing

Testing is an essential stage of web application development. Sometimes testing can even take more time and resources than web design and programming. Here are some major aspects that you should always pay attention to when testing your web application:

  • Code examination and bug testing
  • Cross-browser compatibility
  • Performance - stress tests and load impact tests
  • Application security control
  • Quality assurance
  • Usability checks.

In our modern digital era web apps have become useful tools that more and more organisations introduce into their workflow. Created by professional web developer’s high-quality applications with top web technologies enables businesses to:

  • Reach out to millions of customers to offer your products and services.
  • Become a steady source of income, generating profit from consumers and advertisements.
  • Establish business reputation and gain recognition by customer base expansion, an increase of brand awareness and innovative technologies.

There are a couple of reasons that usually motivate companies to choose web app development to expand their business:

  • A company wishes to increase the productivity of its employees and departments, improve workflow efficiency, automate routine procedures, easily manage sales and projects, etc.
  • A business decides to switch from rigid and outdated desktop software to a flexible, modern-day web-based solution with broad-ranging functionality.
  • A business wants to grow a customer base and improve client communication by providing services and products online.
  • A business wishes to create a web application, which will be innovative and technically advanced to stand out among the competitors and get wide recognition.

Benefits for Business

Modern web applications have a broad functionality that provides businesses and consumers with multiple advantages, such as:

  • Web applications developed by professional IT experts provide you with an opportunity to take your business to the next level and leverage your competition by establishing a solid online presence, a virtual dimension of your business as an extension of your physical business place.
  • The world wide web is a new global business environment that has drastically changed the traditional business practices.
  • Large and small organisations must always evolve and improve to keep in line with the latest trends in order to compete in the fast-changing business environment.
  • Customers and businesses have so many opportunities and tools to research and look for the most lucrative offers as never before - nowadays it is easy to compare prices and the selection of goods in different shops via the internet.
  • The web is a limitless source of information, which is available to everyone who searches the web.
  • Companies whose physical presence is still dominant, or businesses who offered services that are no longer relevant due to the availability of the internet, have been gradually falling into oblivion and must consider developing new business strategies to secure their online presence and adjust to the new business reality

Ready to Get Started?

Do you feel that any of the above have an impact on your business? Then it is high time you made some changes. If you have ideas on how to optimise your business to the modern online environment or want to consult an expert in the latest IT business solutions, our software and web development team would be glad to hear from you and answer any of your questions.

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