There is much confusion around what a web app is and does. A web app is an interactive computer program which is built with website technologies, such as HTML, CSS and JS. While web apps store and manipulate data and files, it is used by either a team or user to perform internet tasks.
To build a web app from scratch, it is essential to understand:
Backend Language (Python and Ruby) – You control how your web app works.
DevOps (Jenkins and Github) – You deploy and host your web app.
If you’re ready to build your very own quality web app development, follow these steps!
Start With an Idea
Before you start the web app development process, understand what you want to build and why. Something to keep in mind; your web app development idea should stem from solving a problem, whether that be someone else’s or your own.
Choose an idea that is of interest to you. The key to motivation for creating your web app is interest. It’s important to have fun during the web app development process, so ask yourself the essential questions:
- How much time do you have to build your web app?
- What are your interests?
- What apps do you enjoy using, and what do you like about those apps?
- How much money and time will your web app save for you (as a user)?
After you’ve chosen a selection of ideas or settled on one final idea, research the market. Does a similar web app development product already exist? Is there a demand in the market for your web app development idea?
Take a look through Google to discover if a similar web app product already exists. If a comparable product exists, this can be a good indicator that there is already a market for your idea. Your future competitors have educated the market, which means it’s your time to swoop in and steal the thunder. If a similar product doesn’t exist, there are two possibilities; either you’ve struck lucky, or someone before you has explored this path and hit a dead end.
Share your web app idea on target market-related forums. Not only will this help you discover your target market first hand, but it will also help you gain a better understanding of the market. Explain your idea to someone in your market, or even jump to social media, like Twitter or Facebook groups. The more you talk and learn more information, the better.
Take advantage of Google, from Google trends to the SEO tools, discover all you need to know. Search Google to quickly reveal trends relevant to your web app idea Otherwise, use the SEO tools, like Google’s keyword planner to search a list of keywords relating to your web app. If the SEO tool shows there is a large number of people searching for your keyword terms, this may be an indicator that you have a target market.
Ask around, whether that be face-to-face conversations with people close to you, or at a local event with people in your target market, have a chat. If you share your ideas, you’re more likely to develop a greater insight into what you truly want to develop. Be sure to record any feedback you get about your web app development idea and take them into account in the plan.
One of the most critical aspects of creating your web app is enjoying the process and celebrating the small wins. Don’t get carried away with the features and functionality, as the more you add, the longer it will take to build your web app.
Time to Design
Now that you’ve got your idea and started to understand the market, it’s time to create the list of everything you want your app to do and dive into the design stage. There are multiple stages in designing your web app development, so let’s start!
After the idea stage, you should have an idea of what you want your web app to be, who your users will be, and the features it will have. Create different versions of your web app and consider whether the functionality will affect the overall design. It is also helpful to annotate your sketches to outline how you want your app to work.
It’s that time where you put yourself in the shoes of your web app development user. Take a look back at your market research. It may also be helpful to sign up to your competitors’ free trails and have a quick play with their product. Write down the different workflows for your app and consider a few of the examples below:
- How does a user signup?
- How does a user login?
- How does a user navigate through the web app?
- How will the web app render across different devices and browsers?
Wireframing and Prototyping
When you’re in the planning stage, wireframing and prototyping your web app is key. Prototype and wireframe simply with these tools:
- Sketch (macOS)
- Adobe XD (macOS, Windows)
- Balsamiq (macOS, Windows, Web)
- Figma (macOS, Windows, Web, Linus)
A database is a collection of data, which can be stored to a disk, in server memory, or both. The data you need to store and what your app users need to do will determine your database system.
SQL is useful if your data is relational. For example, if you record data types that have relationships between them, it can be linked together. While this type of database has been around for decades, it does require a bit over overhead to management.
Document Database is useful if your data is not very relational. Each document is stored and recorded in a big blob of structured data. However, if you need to store relationships between your records, you will have to write the code to manage it yourself.
The front-end is the visual element of your web app; it defines what you see and interacts with. To set up your development environment, the components include:
- A code editor, like VS Code or Sublime Text.
- A packaging framework, like Webpack or Grunt.
- A front-end framework, like React or Ember.
Your designer and developer team should be able to assist you throughout the process.
The back-end manages your data, referring to databases, servers, and everything else a user can’t see in your web app. You must choose between multiple page application server pages and single page application. The primary back-end jobs include:
- Provide HTTP endpoints for your front-end to allow your app to operate on your data.
- Authenticate user.
- Authorise users and determine if they are allowed to perform a request action.
- Serve the front-end.
Once you’ve completed the initial stages and worked with your designer and developer team to create your front-end and back-end development, launching your app is the next step.
Hosting your web app involves running it on a particular server. Budibase is an option which can automatically host your web app; however, you will still be required to buy a domain. If you’re using another hosting provider, follow these quick steps:
- Buy a domain.
- Buy or set up an SSL certificate.
- Choose a cloud provider.
After sourcing your idea, doing the research, completing the design and development stage, and choosing the right hosting provider, you’re on to the last step! Use a development tool which provides continuous integration and will assist you with deploying your web app to your cloud host. Some examples include GitLab, Bitbucket and Jenkins; however, there are many more.