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What You Need to Know About Web App Development

Web application development is the reason why we can make purchases at our fingertips and book a restaurant reservation. Read up to see what you need to know about it and where you can start!

Written by
Kai Yuan Neo
Last updated
August 18, 2023
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What You Need to Know About Web App Development

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Creating web applications (web apps) has become an essential skill in today's digital age. If it were not for web application development, we would not have Shopee, Google Apps and Instagram today!

Read on to understand an overview of web app development, covering everything from the basics to the essential steps to get started.

What is Web App Development?

First off, what is web app development? How is it different from applications on the phone?

Web application development refers to the creation and design of applications that run on web browsers, providing users with interactive and dynamic experiences. One can create a shopping platform, a healthcare application, reservation systems and hobby applications. 

These applications can range from simple websites to complex, feature-rich platforms.

Types & Examples of Web Apps 

Social Networking Apps

Social networking web apps connect people worldwide through messaging, liking and communicating features. 

These platforms facilitate communication, content sharing, and collaboration. This includes Facebook, Twitter, and such.


eCommerce applications enable online buying and selling, thus having both sellers and buyers on the same platform.  

They include features like product catalogues, shopping carts, and secure payment gateways. eCommerce web applications include Shopback, Shopee, and Lazada.

Content Management Systems

Content Management Systems (CMS) help users manage and publish digital content. 

These platforms are widely used for blogs, news websites, and other content-driven sites. Sites with CMS include WordPress and Joomla.

Web Portal

Web portals serve as gateways to various resources and services. 

Examples include Yahoo, Google, and MSN, offering a centralised point for email, news, and other content. Google Docs 

Project Management Apps

Project management apps focus on organising tasks, tracking progress, and collaborating on projects.

Examples of project management apps include the likes of Trello, ClickUp, and Asana.

Web Apps VS Websites VS Mobile Apps

Websites primarily provide information in a one-directional manner, whereas web applications are interactive and capable of executing complex tasks and producing dynamic content.

Web App VS Software App VS Native App

Web apps, software apps, and native apps, despite their functional similarities, are tailored for distinct platforms and devices.

Web apps run on web browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, while software apps run on operating systems such as Windows.


Meanwhile, native apps are specifically developed for a platform or mobile devices, such as iOS or Android, using platform-specific programming languages and tools. They are installed directly onto the device and can leverage its hardware and software features for optimal performance and user experience. 

What Are The Requirements for Web App Development?

Before going into the web application development process, it's crucial to understand the essential requirements:

  • Domain Name: Choosing a unique and memorable domain name is crucial for the longevity of your app.
  • Web Hosting: A reliable hosting provider will ensure that your app is accessible to users.
  • Security Measures: Implement security protocols to protect user data and maintain the integrity of your application.
  • Database Management: Decide on a database system to store and retrieve information efficiently.

Best Languages for Web Application Development

Choosing the right programming language depends on your project requirements and personal preferences. Some popular programming languages include:

  • JavaScript: Essential for front-end development to make interactive web pages.
  • Python: Known for its readability, Python is often used for back-end development and server-side.
  • Ruby: Particularly suitable for building web applications with the Ruby on Rails framework. Though it is no longer as popular as it used to be, it is still fairly liked for back-end usage on the web server. 
  • Java: A versatile language used for both front-end and back-end development.

Getting Started with Web App Development

Now that the basics are laid out, let's explore the steps to initiate your web app development journey:

Planning & Idea Creation

Define the purpose and goals of your web app. Identify the target audience and conduct thorough research to understand their needs.

For example, let’s try to decide on a social networking web app. What kind of content are we looking at? If it is text-based, let’s look at examples such as Twitter and Tumblr, and target audience of fellow people in STEM to network. 

Market Research

Analyse the competitive landscape, identify trends, and validate ideas against trends and research. Assess the feasibility and demand for the project.

One way to do this is to send out a general survey targeting STEM students and workers to study their preferences. 

Define Goals and Functionality

Outline the web app’s features and functionalities, then create a roadmap to guide the development process. Consider the possibility of the app concept being more feasible for mobile apps than web apps.

Given the results of the general survey, let’s assume that STEM students and workers want to share knowledge in their field, or brainstorm with each other. 

Visualisation Design and Sketch

Design the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) for the web application framework. Create wireframes and prototypes to visualise the layout and flow as well as interactive elements. To a lot of users, UI and UX carry the burden of the first impression.

Blue is a popular colour for social networking apps, used on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. According to TrafficSoda, the colour blue emanates the image of trustworthiness and comfort. Colours do matter, and so does the UI and UX design!

Prototype Development

Start a basic build of your web app to test the concept and gather feedback. Identify and address any potential issues during this phase. A complex web application may require more building time, while static web apps take a shorter time. 

With all your information gathered, this is the stage where the app’s vision is brought to fruition.

Testing and Validation

Thoroughly test if your web app functions are usable and run securely on a web browser. Gather feedback from real users to make necessary improvements.

In addition, web apps still require updates and maintenance upon release.

What are the Latest Web Development Trends?

Web development trends have evolved alongside the use of the internet. The following list is not exhaustive but lists some of the prevalent web development trends to look out for. 

Progressive web applications

Although not a new concept, the latest version of progressive web apps (PWAs) is poised to permanently supplant traditional web apps. PWAs facilitate rapid website loading and offline functionality, as evidenced in applications like Google Maps. 

Leading companies such as Starbucks, Uber, Pinterest, and Twitter have already adopted PWAs to enhance the user experience, and in 2023, a growing number of organisations are expected to follow suit.

AI Chatbots

In 2023, AI chatbots will advance further to better cater to user requirements. This entails improved matching of user behaviour through the enhanced utilisation of machine learning, natural language processing, and information retrieval techniques.

In addition to expediting business operations through voice or text interactions, AI-powered chatbots enhance customer experiences. They can gather data, address common queries, and resolve various issues, contributing to a seamless digital experience for customers.

Single-Page Application

Single-page applications (SPAs) are a major recent trend in web development. These JavaScript-based web apps load a single HTML page in a user's browser and update content dynamically without refreshing.

SPAs have gained widespread adoption from the development community and big players like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Their appeal lies in improved overall performance since users can interact with the website without loading an entirely new page from the server. While maintaining SPAs requires more effort, the benefits make it worthwhile.

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