Best Practices for Web Application Development
The Internet is now on a different level than it used to be in the late 2000s. You can create a website app in numerous ways now, and have more control over them. Our article is not only about presenting you best practices or tips for creating an app. We also check the details of the recommended approaches to web application development. Read on!
In the times of multiple web development tools, strategies, and approaches, we're provided with a number of opportunities and options for successful web app development. What are the strongest trends of the last years and the best practices that we should follow to create exceptional web apps?
Read the article to find out:
What are the most modern web development approaches
What are the best practices in web app development
What are the steps of the web application development process
Recommended approaches and technologies for applying the best web development practices
Web Applications vs Websites: an Overview
What is a web application? What is the difference between web app development and web development?
To put it simply, web application development is the process of building websites that behave similarly to mobile apps. Thanks to this, they are accessible from a regular browser just as if they were classic websites. Moreover, web apps can also push notifications and perform features typical to mobile apps. Web applications, similar to traditional websites, are also developed with web development technologies.
So, what are the differences? To name but a few of them, web applications are first and foremost focused on interactions with users, while standard websites are developed for informative purposes (excluding e-commerce websites). To provide you with an example, you can clearly notice the difference between a highly engaging and interactive Facebook page and a regular company website.
All social media channels are obviously based on users’ creative input, while web pages mostly provide visitors with information. This is why web-based applications must be highly responsive, UX-oriented, interactive, dynamic and prepared for handling big traffic and a significant number of real-time requests.
Web Application Development: Best Practices for Success
Alright, as we now know what web apps are, we can go on! What are the best practices in web app development? How do we develop a successful web application with the available technologies?
If you decide to launch your own app, we highly recommend following these steps:
Choose the right tech stack
Picking the right tech tools is the first move in creating a top-notch web application. There's a wide range of programming languages, web app frameworks, servers, and libraries out there, making the choice a bit tricky. However, don't worry. We'll dive deeper into the best practices for web development and explore the best options later in this article.
Create attractive design
If you wish to attract new users, you need to deliver exceptional design and an intuitive interface. Well-planned navigation and easily accessible functionalities will make your app much more appreciated and loved. Remember that the vibe and typography of your app (meaning colors and fonts) should correspond with your target audience and be appealing to them.
Provide great UX
Having a cool design can draw people in, but it's the user experience (UX) that makes them stay and come back. Happy users are likely to recommend your app. So, if you want your app to grow, don't forget to constantly test and improve your app's UX. Always listen to your users' needs. This is one of the best practices for web development and is key to successful application development.
Ensure great speed and performance
According to Google, the bounce rate increases 32% when a page load time goes from one to three seconds. This is why great performance is crucial for any app to succeed. Page load speed depends on a number of factors, such as the tech stack, content, website architecture and dynamic elements. Then, constant testing and optimization of your web application in order to reduce page load time will be worth the effort.
Keep the app scalable
Scalability is one of the most important aspects of the app life cycle. Once your audience starts to grow, you need to make sure that your app is capable of handling increasing traffic. In order to do so, consider choosing the tech stack designed for scaling apps that will be also flexible enough in case you need to introduce updates or optimizations.
Make the website responsive
As we use a whole range of devices, responsiveness ensures the right UX on any kind of OS or browser is a must. The seamless operation of your app, regardless of the preferred software, will make your app easily accessible and boost user satisfaction.
Use a robust CMS
As a web application requires regular updates, you need a tool that will support you in content management. Make sure that you are provided with a powerful CMS (Content Management System) that will allow you to efficiently edit and modify the content of your app. This will significantly help you to increase the efficiency of your app maintenance.
As the next hacker attack happens every 39 seconds, security is an inherent part of software development and priority. Security measures should be integrated during a web app development process by applying best web development practices and prevention tools. Remember to implement solutions such as data encryption, input validation, access control, and role management.
Keep the code concise
Code readability is one of the most important web app development best practices. It helps not only to easily develop and maintain software but also to prevent legacy code issues and reduce technical debt. The code should be then written in a consistent way that is understandable for the majority of developers, as well as those who were not involved in the app development process at the initial stages.
Creative data visualization is one of the strongest trends in web application development now. Animation in web design is not only appealing and engaging, but it also supports storytelling and website navigation. This is one of the many ways to make an app more modern, increase user experience and integrate trendy technologies such as AI, VR or AR.
In order to build a solid source of new customers, make sure that your web application is always optimized in terms of the constantly changing algorithms of modern search engines. Following SEO guidelines and implementing best practices is a chance for increasing traffic that you simply cannot miss. Here's how web dev tactics affect SEO positively:
Reducing page load time
Creating the proper content
Providing the right website architecture
Steps in Web Application Development
However, best practices are still not enough. In order to develop an exceptional web application, you need to follow all of the important stages, including careful planning, prototyping and the right maintenance. So, what are the basic steps of a successful web application development process?
Let’s start with defining three types of web applications that differ in functionality and development purpose:
1. Defining a problem
A successful software development process cannot exist without a careful and complex analysis. The first step on our list is mostly about finding answers to questions such as:
What do we build the app for?
What kind of problems do we aim to solve?
What does the target audience expect?
How can the product properly target their needs?
What features should I provide to keep end-users satisfied?
Defining the goals above requires detailed and comprehensive research that will reveal real, not only assumed, customer needs. As you can clearly see, the idea of a web app is not enough – to make sure that the development process will be successful in technical and business terms, it must first and foremost consider the customers’ perspective. At this stage, you can consider a web development consultancy service that will clear things up for you.
2. Developing a plan
Once you have answers to the most critical questions, it’s time to develop a plan in order to keep the process smooth and manageable within the required deadline. At this stage, your development team should define the project scope, as well as the expected functionalities, and prepare a project roadmap. Developers should also select technologies that are most promising for the specific type of project.
Furthermore, the plan for website application development should consider both technical and business perspectives. This is why the development team should also estimate the budget and define the best way to achieve their goals with available resources. A well-prepared plan with established communication rules and project management methods will help to keep the development process smooth and prevent bottlenecks.
3. Product designing
The next step in the web app development process is about conceptualizing and gathering initial ideas for the future product. At this stage, the development team aims to define the shape of the app. It’s related to both the functional and visual side, including UI and UX design. Most importantly, such brainstorming should be based on analyzing the in-depth thoughts, desires, and expectations of the target group. After the ideas are collected and primarily verified, the team proceeds with choosing the most promising one for further development.
A well-conducted design stage will help to eliminate or reduce many risks and increase the chances of choosing the most optimal idea. As a result of this step, the team should have a defined list of tasks and split responsibilities in order to proceed with the next stage of website application development.
The next important step on the way to developing a web app is comprehensive testing of the chosen idea. This usually means building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This allows getting a better understanding of the product’s look and functionalities, as well as starting the process of gathering feedback from early adopters.
A well-prepared MVP will help you to validate whether your idea meets the customers’ expectations and whether its development should be continued. This is basically how development teams mitigate the risk of deploying an unsuccessful product. Presenting the beta version to the target audience also helps to finetune the product’s final functionalities and make sure that further development will head in the right direction.
5. Web App Development
Now we finally proceed to the major step of the web app development process – coding the final solution. Once your idea is validated, and the desired functionalities of your app are defined, you can start with building a final solution. Based on the feedback collected from early adopters, your team can focus on the development of the most required features.
At this stage, front-end and back-end frameworks and technologies should be already defined. For instance, at Naturaily, we are fans of Jamstack development which is one of the most efficient ways to create a fully functional web application. However, there are also many other approaches available, which we’re gonna mention in a minute.
At the end of the development stage, the app must be hosted on a web server under a proper domain in order to be finally launched and presented to a wider audience.
Once your app is ready to go, it’s time to test it! Before you let your customers use it, you need to make sure that it’s efficient and bug-free. It’s also crucial to observe how the app reacts to traffic and whether it’s capable of handling the expected intensity of requests. Remember that quality assurance and testing significantly impact the overall app rating and user satisfaction.
Skipping testing may cause severe malfunctioning in the future. This is why we recommend carrying it out not only at the end but on a regular basis during the entire development process. The sooner the error will be detected, the cheaper and less tough it will be to remove it. Once the final testing stage is completed, the application is ready for launch.
Ready to celebrate? Not so fast. Even though launching an app is a big win, it also begins a busy period of gathering user feedback. In this phase of best practices web development, it's crucial to stay alert and look for ways to make your app even better. Paying close attention to your users and tracking their feedback is key. For instance, testing the user experience of a finished app can provide useful tips for improving your app and making it more appealing. This is an integral part of maintaining the best web development practices and fostering the application development best practices.
8. Maintenance and development
Obviously, web app development does not end once the app is launched – the post-development process is equally important. Monitoring its performance and making sure there are no malfunctions is simply a must if you wish to keep your app successful in the long term. Functional, safe, and bug-free web applications will keep attracting more and more users and lead to financial success. Thus, you should never stop optimizing performance, reacting to consumers’ feedback and requests, renewing licenses, and extending the functionality by developing newly desired features.
Web App Development: Recommended Approaches and Technologies
Now that you know what good practices in web development are and how to lead a web development project, let's take a look at possible solutions and approaches that will help you achieve your goals and are the most vivid and influential currently but also most effective in simply doing web development properly.
As Jamstack experts and fans, we couldn’t help but start with this technology. To find out more feel free to read our article – What is Jamstack? – which will provide you with more information about the pros, cons, and principles of this web development approach.
Yet, to provide you with some basic information, Jamstack is a modern web architecture approach that allows the building of static, fast-loading sites equipped with dynamic elements. This happens thanks to decoupling the front-end layer from the back-end logic, which leaves freedom in choosing the development languages and web application frameworks.
The market expects Jamstack to become a strong trend in web application development. Why is that? Jamstack's popularity is constantly growing. According to the Jamstack Community Survey 2022, 24% of all Jamstack developers have less than 3 years of experience. This means that more developers are drawn in by this technology, and have decided to learn it.
What's more, over 50% of all developers coding in Jamstack come from outside of Europe and North America. This situation occurred for the first time since the survey was established, and it looks like Jamstack is broadening its geographical boundaries.
The authors of a well-established annual publication, Web Almanac by HTTP Archive, express it directly:
The web is getting more “Jamstack-y”
What are the main reasons behind the growing popularity of the Jamstack approach? Jamstack provides developers and product owners with a number of benefits:
Rapid development process
Cost-efficiency (hosting static elements is cheaper than hosting dynamic elements)
This is why we think that the Jamstack will soon transform the way of deploying web development apps, and will become one of the strongest trends in the next years.
The other interesting numbers and trends about Jamstack development are:
There were 50% more websites created in Jamstack within 1 year (2021 compared to 2020)
48% of e-commerce and tech companies want to start using Jamstack in the next year
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Composable architecture is a method in web and software creation where distinct, individualized components or modules are used to construct systems, apps, or websites. These modules operate autonomously but can be effortlessly integrated to produce advanced features, ensuring they function harmoniously together.
It perfectly fits the requirements of creating good web applications so it's highly recommended to dive in.
Composable architecture offers a unique way to integrate the best tools and services tailored to specific design needs. Instead of compromising with bundled, one-size-fits-all solutions, you're empowered to choose components that truly resonate with your brand, ensuring that your design isn't just attractive but also distinctly yours
A primary advantage of composable is the freedom it offers. With the ability to pick and mix user-centric modules, developers can focus on crafting user experiences that are intuitive and delightful, ensuring users stay engaged
With each component independently deployable, you get to harness only what you need. This not only means faster load times but also robust performance, as you're no longer bogged down by unnecessary bloatware
One of the underlying tenets of composable is scalability. By definition, it supports the addition of new functionalities without disrupting existing ones, making it easier for businesses to grow and evolve their web applications
In the landscape of web development, headless architecture has carved a significant niche. Unlike traditional monolithic systems where the front end (the "head") and back end are tightly bound together, headless architecture detaches the two. This separation means that the presentation layer (what the user sees) is developed independently from the data or business logic layer.
Now, let's understand how headless architecture breathes life into the best practices for web application development:
Attractive Design & Great UX: Since the front end is independent, designers and developers have complete freedom to craft user interfaces without constraints from the back end. This results in more creative, tailored, and user-centric designs.
Speed & Performance: Without the need to fetch unnecessary back-end data for every request, websites built on headless architecture often load faster, offering a swift and smooth experience for users.
Scalability: The decoupled nature means the back end can handle requests and scale up or down independently of the front end, adjusting to traffic demands seamlessly.
Responsive Design: Developers can push content to any device or channel, whether it's a mobile app, web browser, or even IoT devices, ensuring content appears perfectly across all platforms.
Use of best headless CMS: Unlike traditional CMSs, a headless CMS doesn't come with a predetermined front-end system but focuses solely on managing and delivering content. Key capabilities include real-time editing and previews, API-first content delivery, and multi-platform compatibility. The benefits are manifold: it offers greater flexibility, faster content delivery, and a streamlined content management process tailored to modern web needs.
Security: With the presentation layer separated from the business logic and data, potential vulnerabilities are reduced. Attacks or breaches on the front end don't directly compromise the data-rich back end.
Concise Code: Developers can focus on coding for specific front-end needs without sifting through back-end logic, leading to cleaner and more efficient code.
Animations & Dynamic Content: The freedom in design that headless offers can be leveraged to incorporate animations and dynamic content tailored to enhance user interaction.
Optimized SEO: With faster loading times and the ability to create user-friendly URLs and site structures, headless architectures support SEO best practices, enhancing the website's visibility.
In essence, adopting a headless approach is not just a trend but a forward-thinking strategy. It gives businesses the agility to evolve, ensuring they're not just meeting but surpassing user expectations. Whether you're revamping an existing site or building a new web application from scratch, the versatility of headless architecture offers a framework that's adaptable, efficient, and user-focused.
React-powered websites are SEO-friendly and high-performant
The library is easy to learn, compared to others
React development delivers excellent UI and UX
React ensures code stability
Although React.js obviously has some disadvantages, with poor documentation being one of them, it’s still one of the most popular and loved web development libraries.
What is Next.js? It's an influential open-source web development framework engineered by Vercel. It's conceived to simplify the intricacies of building web applications, offering a holistic ecosystem to craft apps effortlessly while addressing core challenges inherent to web development. As an extension of React, Next.js has become a vital tool for developers desiring efficiency without compromising quality.
So, why should you consider Next.js for your web projects? Here are the top advantages:
Efficient Development Process: With its comprehensive ecosystem, Next.js refines React projects, saving developers both time and effort.
Ultimate Performance: Enjoy faster page loading and enhanced user experiences thanks to Next.js's emphasis on performance and page speed.
Freedom in Data Management: Next.js offers unparalleled freedom in data fetching, streamlining backend communications.
Enhanced Collaboration: The framework fosters better team collaboration, leading to smoother project workflows.
Adaptable Rendering Strategies: Depending on the project's requirements, developers can choose from various rendering techniques, ensuring the best fit.
Scaling Made Easy: Next.js is designed for growth, providing a foundation that supports scalability, ensuring your website or application can handle increased traffic effortlessly.
International Reach: With built-in tools for internationalization, reaching a global audience is more accessible than ever.
Streamlined Development & Deployment: The emphasis on development efficiency ensures that moving from creation to live deployment is a breeze.
What are the main benefits of Node.js development?
Node allows for the building of highly efficient websites, web apps and one-pagers
It supports data streaming, so it can be used for developing visual and social media channels
This is why Node.js is used by market giants such as Netflix, Uber, Twitter or PayPal
Node ensures a great caching ability. This means it stores data for future requests
The technology enables cross-platform web app development
Node helps to achieve great scalability without decreasing speed and performance
Node has gathered an active and engaged community of developers from all around the world
To name but a few of Node.js drawbacks, it is not recommended for developing financial software and complex CPU calculations, as it doesn’t provide enough precision and can lead to errors that are unacceptable when dealing with finances.
Additional trends in Node.js web development are:
It’s popularity is spreading worldwide. According to Web Survey Report 2018, 32% of Node users come from the US or Canada, 44% from the EMEA region, 18% from APAC and 7% from South America.
Node.js can reduce development costs by 56%. This is why it is more and more frequently chosen by startups.
PWA (Progressive Web Apps)
Progressive Web Apps are specific web applications. They operate without the need for opening a browser and can be accessed directly from a device. Moreover, PWA apps push notifications and are able to work offline. Although they behave exactly like a mobile app, technically they still remain websites, only wrapped up in a mobile app packaging.
What are the benefits of PWA Development?
PWAs ensure a great page load time – they load even 2 or 3 times faster than regular websites.
They are universal, as they operate regardless of the browser. This means that they can be adapted to nearly any type of device.
On the other hand, PWA apps don’t require installing anything as they can be accessed via a browser.
Most PWA operate offline thanks to caching.
They are lightweight and consume less space than native apps.
For the reasons listed above, PWA are recommended mostly to those who want to achieve short time-to-market, cover all the main platforms with a single codebase, have a limited budget, and aim to maximize UI/UX and user engagement.
When it comes to drawbacks, PWAs meet some limitations in hardware support. As they run in a browser, they don’t have access to all the functionalities typically designed for native apps. Then, when native app functionality is highly required, a PWA might not be the most optimal choice.
So, what are the major trends in PWA development?
According to Divante, PWA apps have a 36% higher conversion rate compared to native apps.
Companies using PWAs notice an increase in customer engagement, page load time and conversion (from 17% up to 380%).
Progressive Web Apps require 33% fewer maintenance costs than native apps.
As Jamstack specialists delivering web app development services, Naturaily obviously applies the most modern approaches. To all clients who wish to build static websites or web applications equipped with dynamic elements, we highly recommend our beloved headless development. This approach has helped many of our clients achieve extraordinary functionality and great performance.
And if you’re searching for a highly qualified e-commerce and web development company, you’re in the right place. In our website application development process, we use the most efficient Jamstack languages and web application development frameworks. With our portfolio, experience and resources, we are ready to complete even the most complicated projects while keeping the development process smooth and agile. If a future-proof web application developed in line with the latest trends is currently on your mind, feel free to contact us!
Let's talk about Jamstack!
Contact us and we'll warmly introduce you to the vast world of Jamstack web development!
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