How to build a web application

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The total number of internet users worldwide exceeded 4.95 billion at the beginning of 2022. By developing a web application, you can satisfy their communication needs, help them make online purchases, and find the required information. Moreover, web applications allow you to grow your business by increasing your customer base.

So if you wonder how to create a web app but do not know where to start, our extensive guide on the web app development process will be a good help. Here we discuss the following steps to take to develop a web app:

Step 1. Discovery and research

Step 2. Planning

Step 3. Consider the design of your future application

Step 4. Define the required functionality

Step 5. Choose the technology stack

Step 6. Hire an experienced web app development team

Step 7. Start with an MVP first

Step 8. Launch a fully-fledged web application

Web applications – everything you should know

Before discussing how to develop a web application, let’s define it and how it differs from a website.

Definition

In simple terms, a web application is software or a program that is stored on a remote server and can be accessed via web browsers. Pinterest, Spotify, Basecamp, and Netflix are examples of popular web apps.

How do web apps work? The whole process looks the following way:

Step 1. A user makes a request to the web server over the internet via the user interface. 

Step 2. The web server sends this request to the server of the web app. 

Step 3. Then, the execution of a requested task takes place. 

Step 4. The application produces the required data results and sends them back to the web server. 

Step 5. The web server sends the requested information to the user. 

Step 6. The user sees the required information on the display of their devices.

Schematically, the web application workflow can be presented the following way:

The workflow of a typical web app
Web application workflow

Web applications vs websites

At first glance, web applications and websites look very similar. Both software products are accessed via web browsers and require an internet connection. However, the difference between these solutions is more than it meets the eye.

  • Websites generally have static content, while web applications are dynamic and imply user interaction. 
  • The second difference is related to data manipulation. Web app users can manipulate the data, whereas website visitors do not have such an opportunity.
  • Most web applications require authentication. In contrast, authentication is not obligatory on websites, especially if we talk about informational websites.
  • Regarding integration with third-party services, the process is rather complicated because of the complex web app functionality. At the same time, for websites with simpler features, the integration process is hassle-free.

Web applications types

If you wonder how to make a web app that will help you grow your business and allow your users to complete their daily tasks, you need to choose the web application type wisely.

The most popular types of web applications are as follows:

  • Progressive web applications. Though these web apps are similar to websites, they offer a seamless native mobile app experience. They allow users to work in offline mode, receive push notifications, and view screen-responsive pages. The key business benefits of progressive web apps are increased conversion rates, improved customer engagement, and higher search ranking.
  • Single-page applications. The key difference between SPAs and other web apps is that they do not require reloading web pages from the server. Most of its content remains intact, while only some of its pieces need updating. As a result, users are satisfied with improved performance and increased user experience, while businesses can benefit from the simplified web app development process. The most popular SPAs are Trello, Gmail, Twitter, and PayPal.
  • Multi-page applications. In contrast to the previous web apps, multi-page applications consist of many pages (hence the name) that are completely refreshed every time the data is changed. Examples of multi-page applications are online stores, web portals, and business applications.
  • Portal web applications. The common feature of these web apps is obligatory authentication and authorization.  Large businesses and enterprises often use portals that create personal profiles for their employees or partners, provide them with access to certain information and keep track of their activities.
  • CMS web applications. Content management systems enable companies to create, manage, and modify content. They do not require technical background or knowledge of markup language. The best-known CMSs are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
  • Static web apps. Such web applications do not imply any interaction between users and the server. The web page content is delivered to their browsers without server-side alterations of JavaScript, HTML, or CSS data. A static web app is a great choice if your solution does not require personalized content that needs regular updates.
  • Dynamic apps. They imply active user interaction and produce real-time data in response to the user’s request. Dynamic web applications are more complex on the technical level, meaning that a wide range of programming languages, such as PHP or ASP.NET, is used for dynamic web application development.
  • E-commerce web applications. Such applications allow buying and selling products and services online. They are associated with such advanced functionality as electronic payment gateways, mobile e-commerce, chatbots, inventory and supply chain management, etc.

Business benefits of web apps

Now let’s discuss the main benefits web application development can bring your business.

Cross-platform and browser capabilities

In comparison to native apps that are designed specifically for a particular platform, web applications are compatible with all operating systems. By developing a web application that runs smoothly on Windows, Mac OS, or Android, you will reach more customers and grow your business. In addition, there is no binding to a particular browser, meaning users can utilize any browser they like, whether Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google Chrome.

Advanced security

Generally, web applications are deployed on dedicated servers. Highly skilled server administrators are responsible for their constant monitoring and management. They ensure the security of your sensitive information and will identify potential breaches before they ruin your business.

Increased web development speed

You will develop a web app much faster than a native mobile application. For this reason, investing in web application development is a good idea if you want to speed up time-to-market and launch your software solutions earlier than market rivals.

Reduced operating costs

If you are looking for efficient ways to cut operational expenses, consider investing in web app programming. It does not require hardware purchases, regular device upgrades, and maintenance of numerous systems. As a result, you will be able to minimize capital expenditures. Besides, the simplified architecture of web applications needs less support and maintenance, which will also help you cut costs.

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How to create a web application

Now that you know what a web application is, how it works, and what advantages it has, let’s proceed to the main stages of the web application development process. Armed with this information, you will know how to create a web app in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

Step1. Discovery and research

Basically, there are two key reasons to create a new product: to solve a pain point or to provide some benefit. Hence, your first step is to decide which goal you want to reach with your application.

If your purpose is to fix a specific problem, think carefully about why this issue exists and how you can address it with the latest technologies. 

You may interview people who experienced such an issue to get valuable insights into possible solutions. If you discover that a web application can make things easier, you may proceed to the next step.

Step 2. Planning

The successful release of a digital product that will bring you stable cash flow is impossible without careful planning.

Your first step there is to achieve the so-called product-market fit. It means that your solution should fill the market gap for a large customer segment. 

The Vien diagram below illustrates how the product-market fit concept is created by overlapping three crucial market components: product, demand, and competition.

The visual representation of product-market fit
The product-market fit

To sum up, to achieve a product-market fit, you need to solve a problem or create the market demand for your product and show how it is better than similar solutions that are available on the market.

A proven way to reach this goal is to conduct market research.

Exploring your target market will provide insights into your potential buyers’ demographics, interests, needs, and motivations. Armed with this information, you will find out how to make a web app that satisfies their demands in the most efficient way.

Apart from that, it would be helpful to define how you will differentiate your product from the market rivals. By analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, you will get better chances to build a unique, unparalleled solution. For example, you may add killer features that cannot be found in similar products.

Step 3. Consider the design of your future platform

The recent research by Forrester shows the ability of a well-designed User Interface (UI) to increase your conversion rate by up to 200%. At the same time, enhanced User Experience (UX) can raise the conversion rate by up to 400%. Given these figures, your web application’s advanced UI/UX design becomes your top priority.

First off, create a user journey map to illustrate key steps users should take to reach their goals. It will point out certain stops where users may require your assistance or try to check out. By helping them at these stages, you will drive them to sale.

The next step is wireframing. Wireframes are the so-called drafts showing the structure of your future app and the hierarchy and relationship between product components. 

Later, these wireframes are converted to prototypes. Since prototypes imply the first user interaction, they can tell a lot about the product’s functionality, design, and user experience. This information will allow you to make necessary changes before delving into the web application development process.

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Step 4. Define the required functionality

Your next step is to choose the right functionality for your future web app. 

Suppose you want to build an e-commerce web application. In this case, you should consider a seamless checkout process, multiple payment gateways, and shipping options in the first place. 

Also, you need to implement advanced security features to protect your customers’ credit card data and other sensitive information.

The number of features and their complexity depends on the web application type you will build and the functions it should perform. The overall recommendation is as follows: try not to neglect primary features in favor of some fancy functionality. 

Step 5. Hire an experienced development team

Now that you have gained a clear picture of the web application you want to create, it is high time to find a reliable software development team to transform your ideas into a working solution. 

Such a team consists of experienced business analysts, designers, developers, and quality assurance engineers who will provide you with a comprehensive look at your project and figure out how to create a web app in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

When choosing a software development company for your project, check their experience. For this purpose, visit their website and study the case studies. Make sure that they have built web products similar to the application you will build.

It would be a good idea to read the testimonials from satisfied customers on the company website too. They will prove the reliability and trustworthiness of your chosen technology partner.

Finally, you should take a closer look at the technology stack applied in the software development agency. It should contain the most in-demand programming languages, frameworks, libraries, and testing tools.

Step 6. Choose the right technology stack

In the previous paragraph, we have already touched on the subject of the technology stack. Now we want to explore this matter in more detail and discuss technologies we consider the best suited for web app development.

In our line of work, we use proven and mature technologies such as Python, Ruby on Rails, Java, PHP, React, and Node.js.

Speaking about the web frameworks used at Syndicode, our ultimate choice is Node.js and React.js. According to StackOverflow Developer Survey 2022, they are the most popular web technologies used by professional developers.

At the same time, our technical experts do not stand still and learn emerging technologies. Thus, our tech stack has recently been enriched with the Vue.js framework, which has been gaining momentum these days. Its extensive capabilities make this technology a good option for building adaptive, visually appealing, and functional user interfaces for web apps.

Step 7. Start with an MVP first

If you wonder how to create a web app with minimum investment, we recommend launching an MVP first. The minimum viable product concept will help you validate your business idea and ensure that you will achieve product-market fit without spending too much time or resources.

The MVP approach supposes building the basic functionality to satisfy early adopters. You may enhance your solution further as soon as you get their feedback.

As soon as you launch an MVP, you need to measure its success. The following metrics will help you define whether your web application brings value to the target audience:

  • Acquisition rate – number of potential buyers who came across your product within a certain period.
  • Customer acquisition cost – this metric refers to the total amount of money spent on one customer over the business lifetime.
  • Conversion rate – the percentage of visitors who turned into paid customers.
  • Return on investment (ROI) – we divide the profit we get on an investment by the cost of this investment.

Step 8. Release a fully-fledged product

As soon as the metrics defined above prove that your web application provides real value to the customers, you can consider releasing a fully-fledged product. Based on the feedback from pioneer users, you can add new functionality to satisfy their needs better and gain a competitive edge.

Here we talk about some killer features you may have left for later when choosing the must-have functionality. Think about adding geolocation or social media integration. Alternatively, you can provide new customization features to allow users to set up the web application as they wish.

If you decide to implement some premium features, consider the price carefully. On the one hand, you should make a profit. But one the other hand, your in-app features should provide enough value for customers to pay for them.

Web application development cost

To define the amount of money you will need to invest in web app development, you should know the key factors that influence the total cost of the completed solution. These are project scope, UI/UX design complexity, and hiring options.

The most important factor that deserves your attention is the project scope. Are you building a simple online store or a complex booking management system? Is integration with multiple third-party services required? Remember, the more sophisticated product you want to get, the higher price will be.

If you need specific figures, based on our experience, we can say for sure that a basic web application will cost you $80,000 – $100,000 or more. It will contain the minimum amount of content and interactive elements.

You will need $130,000-180,000 to build a medium-sized web project. It can be an e-commerce app or a solution for a small company. Generally, such products contain interactive elements, a user account system, an admin panel, and some integrations.

Finally, complex applications are designed to meet broad and unstructured objectives or improve nonlinear workflows. Such a project will cost you $180,000-300,000+.

Conclusion

Now you have good a better understanding of web application development process and the cost of a completed web product.

If you are looking for a reliable web application development company to build your website from scratch, feel free to contact us.

Syndicode has built multiple complex web solutions for many industries and domains. Ouw vast expertise, we will allow our expert team to provide you with a robust, powerful, and visually appealing web application.

For more information about the project we have successfully delivered, feel free to check our case studies.

FAQ

  • The top 5 most popular programming languages for web app development are Java, PHP, Python, JavaScript, and Ruby. The robust security features of Java make it a good choice for building banking and fintech web applications. While PHP is suitable for building static and dynamic web projects. Owing to the simplicity of Python code that reduces the development time considerably, this programming language is one of the most preferred options for custom web app development. JavaScript allows the creation of interactive web pages. Finally, Ruby works best for creating e-commerce web applications and minimum viable products.

  • The first step is the exploration of the problem you are going to solve with your web app. Is it big enough to require a solution? The next stage is market research to learn more about your target audience and competitors. Then, you should list the required features that will allow your application to perform its functions. Your next step is to find a reliable software development team to bring your ideas to reality and convert them into a working product. They will help you choose the right technologies for your project and launch a minimum viable product to validate your ideas. After exploring key metrics and feedback from initial users, you can consider releasing a fully-featured web application.

  • There are eight main types of web applications. The first is a progressive web application offering users a native mobile app experience. Then we should mention multi-page applications and single-page apps like Gmail or Twitter that do not require reloading web pages from the server. Besides, there are portal web applications that work best for big corporations. Content management systems allow companies to create, manage, and modify content while e-commerce web apps promote online shopping. Finally, there are static and dynamic web applications.

  • The time frames for a particular web application may vary depending on the project type and its complexity. However, based on our web app development experience, we can say for sure that, in general, it takes 4.5 months to create the front side of the web app and build its back-end infrastructure. However, if your software development company uses some ready-made solutions, the project will be completed and customized earlier, and you will get your product delivered in 3.5 months.

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