Web App Design: Everything You Need To Know

14 November 2021

Introduction

This decade is unmistakably known as the “Startup Era.” Every day, teams of various sizes and scales emerge, delivering solutions to help communities. They are small and large, local and worldwide. A few of them come and leave, while others earn a permanent space in the market. As a result of this trend, we can see a wide range of online apps, which form a part or the entirety of such projects.

Websites and web apps present these services to the world. Although developing a product that will fundamentally enhance people’s lives or jobs is a top concern, effective web application design is equally critical. It is a vital link between you and the rest of the world that assures its success. As a result, it should be pitch-perfect. But how? A big part of it depends on how the audience perceives it.

Web apps are so common these days that they often go overlooked. Despite this, we utilize them frequently.

Web-based programs, ranging from Microsoft Office products such as Office Online, to common apps such as Mailchimp, Notion, and even Twitter, allow you to enjoy unique, customized, and immersive experiences like native apps directly from your web browser.

What do we mean by a Web App?

A web application is a piece of software or a program that can be accessed using an internet browser. Its front-facing interface is often built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, all compatible with all popular web browsers. On the other hand, the backend might employ a programming stack, such as LAMP, MEAN, and so on. 

In contrast to computer-based software applications that run locally on the device’s operating system (OS), a web app is a software application that operates on a web server.

Web app vs. Website vs. Mobile Apps

A website is a collection of visual and textual material that people may browse and read, whereas a web application is intended entirely for end-user engagement/interaction. The user of a web application can view the program’s content as well as alter the data. Unlike websites, web apps do require pre-compilation before deployment, and integration is more challenging for web applications due to their sophisticated functionality.

App stores or marketplaces, such as Google Play or the Apple App Store, is used for downloading and installing mobile apps. These applications are installed and operated locally on the device, and they may have access to features and in-gadget resources like the camera or GPS. This is usually not the case with web apps.

Web applications are accessible only via a web browser. They save data in your web browser’s cache, allowing you to use parts of the application even while you’re not connected to the internet. As a result, if you don’t have internet connectivity, you’ll either be unable to utilize the web app, or your functionality will be reduced. 

Since they appear and feel so similar to mobile applications, web apps are sometimes confused with them. There are, nevertheless, some significant changes that influence the functioning and use.

Because online apps aren’t local to the device, there’s no need to download or install them.

What does the development process of a web app look like?

A proper web application development process flow is critical to the impact of any project. Although web-based app creation is quite similar to desktop application development, several changes may affect the whole procedure and make it more complicated in some ways. We’ll go through each stage of the web application development process in this piece and identify essential experts who can help with the development and outline their areas of responsibility.

Step 1: Initial Clarification & Discussions

The first and most significant phase in the web application development process is thoroughly examining the project and its key components. Your project team should investigate your requirements, the extent of the project, and the functionality required.

To create a profitable product, you must first develop a solid plan and consider your options, including assessing your target market.

What is the goal of the project? For whom is this software being created? What are their issues and passions?

Step 2: Break It Down Into Short-Term Goals

Since the process is built on scrum methodology, the functionality delivery is cyclical. The goal of this iterative method is to break the job down into manageable chunks and execute them at set intervals (for development, verification, and testing). In this step, you schedule discussions to map out the planning stage. This means daily meetings, short-time sprints, and reflective sessions following sprint reviews. Those sessions are for exchanging comments and continually improving the project’s efficiency.

The purpose of the previous phase was to determine the goals of the web app implementation. The goals might be complicated, and the business rationale is often complicated as well. At this point, these long-term goals must be broken down into more minor, manageable activities, making them easier to develop, validate, and test.

The following tasks should have been done by the end of this step:

  • Consider the procedures required to accomplish the project. Recognize each function and component.
  • Rephrase the core requirements and objectives
  • Break down each aim into manageable steps.
  • Aggregate the many studies and methodologies into a single document for clarification.

Step 3: Exploration

A research phase might follow the earlier meetings, which is usually encouraged. During the exploration phase, your team will be able to:

  • Develop application prototypes to test the viability of the initial idea.
  • Define the MVP, aka the Minimum Value Product.
  • Design your product’s architecture and deployment strategy.
  • Discover your target users’ in-depth requirements, interests, and pain points.
  • Experiment with various toolkits and languages.

Step 4: Validate The Plans & Begin Designing

After the prototypes have been finalized, they are shared with clients for evaluation and comments. The design revisions and mockup adjustments continue until the customer gives everything a nod of approval. While the design team focuses on mockups and refining, the development team is mainly focused on programming. As a result, Stages 3 and 4 frequently progress in sync.

Users of web applications have no idea what goes on behind the scenes or how things operate. All they do is engage with the platform’s layout. Stage 3 is really about fine-tuning the web application’s appearance and interaction aspects. To complete the design part of the web application, designers deal with color palettes, images, logos, frameworks, user experience, style guidelines, animations, button-icons, and so much more.

Step 5: Collaborate in Design & Development

Beginning with minimal wireframes or mockups is a quick method to see if your concepts resonate with your audience, and the web app is simple. If you’re collaborating with an outside partner, the wireframing phase is also a good time to double-check that their effort is on track with your goals.

The partnership will be more straightforward, and the developers’ job will be easier with tools that allow for discussing and offering input on designs. Some industry- favorite programs are Adobe XD and Figma. The development in this step happens in three aspects:

Database

Determine the categories of data you’ll be storing in your database as well as the data you’ll be keeping. After that, create your database.

Frontend

You’ll most likely develop both the frontend and the backend parallelly. Your front end will resemble the wireframe/page mockups you verified previously in some respects. The frontend is usually made with HTML, CSS, and JS.

Backend

One of the most challenging aspects of the web application development phase is creating the backend. The backends’ key responsibilities include providing HTTP endpoints for your frontend, authenticating users, authorizing them, and serving the frontend.

Step 6: Testing, Deployment, and Maintenance

“User Acceptance Test” is another name for the step that requires testing. During this phase, a test group of users checks the range of features and reports any faults. If adjustments are needed, they may be addressed with the project leader, who will recommend the best method to incorporate user input and feedback. Whether it’s a small company site or an extensive web application, all digital products need regular maintenance and updates. As time passes, you’ll want to pivot your app, add new features, release App Version 2, etc. This is why your app development contract should include provisions for app upkeep, post-delivery support, and future updates.

Advantages of a Web Application:

  • Cross-platform compatibility (Unlike conventional installed apps, most web-based programs are significantly more interoperable across platforms.)
  • It’s a lot easier to deal with
  • High-deployability
  • Ensure the safety of live data
  • Cost savings by not having to list an app on the app store

‍Types of Web Apps:

These are the popular types of web applications that exist:

  • Single-Page Applications
  • Animated Web Apps
  • Rich Internet Apps
  • Multi-Page Applications
  • Portal Web Apps
  • JavaScript-Powered Web Apps
  • eCommerce Web Apps
  • Progressive Web Apps

Examples of well-designed web apps:

  1. Google Docs: Google Workspace, the Google Office Suite, is one of the most popular collections of web apps used by a vast number of people online. 
  2. Netflix: One of the world’s top video-streaming platforms is also a web app.
  3. Trello: This online planner and note-taking app is a reasonably popular web app used by workspaces.
  4. Notion: Notion is more than just a note-taking app. It is a part of people’s workflow in a big way today. From students to corporates, almost everyone uses Notion. And it too is a web application.
  5. Pinterest: The popular mood-boarding application is also a web app. 

How can an agency help you to develop the perfect web app for your business?

  • Specialized knowledge and expertise
  • Fixed-price contracts with a budget constraint
  • Agencies give you additional options and flexibility.
  • Project leaders usually supervise the process and relay the developments to you, which leads to a better service framework.
  • Your application will be thoroughly tested.
  • Agencies have a greater level of protection.
  • Support and maintenance for the app in the future

Conclusion:

Finally, when developing a web app, you must make some critical decisions. If you follow the steps above, you would have to select whether to create your web app from scratch, utilize a framework, or use a web development platform once you reach the development phase. All of them have their own set of advantages. Programming from the ground up offers greater flexibility than utilizing a web development platform, but it also takes longer and is more complicated. A web development platform is not as scalable as a built framework, but it is easier and quicker to utilize. Consider your options carefully and select the best choice for the work at hand.

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