- Aug 15, 2019
- by Brad Litwin
Developing a web application comes with a number of challenges. Once you have an idea in place, you’ll still need to figure out how you are going to create it.
Some of the elements you’ll need to consider include your development approach, as well as your app’s overall design and usability. You may also want to choose a framework, to help you save time during development.
This post will introduce the concept of web frameworks and their benefits. We’ll then outline what you’ll need to consider when building a web application. Let’s get started!
A Brief Look at How Web Applications Work
To better understand what you will need during the development process, it helps to know how web applications work. A web application is designed to execute a number of functions at the request of the client and/or browser. The client makes a request through the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) network, the server processes that request, and the application tells it what response to send back to the browser.
This is called client-server architecture, and is the basic structure of all web applications. Your challenge in development is to figure out how to process each request and return the proper response. This is done in three main layers.
- Application layer: Accountable for delivering responses back to the users.
- Database storage layer: The location where data is stored.
As you can imagine, a well-functioning web application can require a lot of code. This is where frameworks can help simplify the process.
An Introduction to Web Frameworks
A framework is a software tool that provides an easier way to build and run applications. It can handle most of the low-level functions of your application for you, so you don’t have to code every one individually.
This can save you a lot of time. By using a framework, you avoid many of the possible miscalculations and bugs that can pop up in your code. Until the mid-nineties, web applications were coded entirely by hand, and only the developers knew how to change or deploy them. Web frameworks introduced a simple way to order an application’s structure and general appearance, making it much easier for a team of developers to collaborate.
The best thing about frameworks is that their code has already been tested, so you can focus on implementing your app-specific functions. What’s more, each framework option has a precise structure that’s designed to meet specific needs. You can choose one that suits your project or combine several, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.
What to Consider When Building a Web Application (3 Key Tips)
Before you begin building your web application, there are a few things to think about in order to maximize your chances for a successful result. Here are three of the most important considerations.
1. Choose a Framework
As we mentioned earlier, a solid framework makes development easier, faster, and safer. Since you will be doing a lot of programming, it helps to choose the right base at the very beginning of your project.
Each framework offers a rich set of functionality. There are server-side and client-side options, for example, as well as full-stack ones that offer cross-functionality. CakePHP is an excellent example of the latter category:
CakePHP is a free, open-source development framework. It can be used to design many different kinds of web applications, and is structured and flexible. It handles the basics, so you can start working on the true functionality of your application right away.
2. Follow a Developmental Approach
Once you’ve decided on a framework, you may wish to choose an approach to follow during your app’s development. Doing this now can help to prevent a lot of bugs and frustration later down the road.
One of the classic approaches is called the Agile Development method:
This method has been around in some form since the early days of computer programming, but wasn’t fully formed until the 1990s and has continued to evolve. It promotes evolutionary development, adaptive planning, and rapid and flexible response to change.
In contrast, some developers choose to follow a more modular approach. This type of method involves splitting the project into fully-functioning modules, and developing them separately to complete the project. However you prefer to work, though, it helps to have a clearly-planned organizational structure.
3. Think About Design and Usability
Design is an important part of your app’s success. Simple and organized designs are generally more usable, which matters because most web applications should function easily without the need for documentation.
Color schemes are significant, for example. Different colors evoke various emotional responses, often without the end users realizing it. It’s also a good idea to keep your app’s design consistent. Applications with multiple sections that are too different from each other can confuse users.
Finally, it’s important to think about how you’ll keep your web app running fast. Users may not have a good experience if your app is slow or hard to interact with. The best way to account for this is to select your app’s hosting provider carefully, and opt for one that works well with your chosen framework.
When developing a web app, there are a lot of things you’re going to need to figure out upfront. The market is crowded, and your app’s design will need to be high-quality if you want to grab users’ attention.
Here are three key tips to consider before you start building your web application:
- Choose a framework to simplify the process.
- Follow a proven development approach.
- Think about design and usability.
Image credit: MarkMartins.