By Jesse Ocean  |   28th February 19

Web App Development- The What and The Why

Web App Development: The What and The Why

Having a website presence is an integral part of being able to share information on the internet. If you’re running a business, your website acts as a great marketing tool where you can provide valuable information to your customers and showcase your products or services.

However, there may come a time when you want to create more engagement for your business or offer special functions that have a greater depth of interactivity. That’s when you’ll need to turn to web app development.

You’re probably already familiar with a few popular web apps. These include:

  • Facebook 
  • Twitter 
  • Gmail 
  • Netflix DVD 

A web app gives you some control over a website, and you can access it with any type of device. In the case of Netflix and its DVD home delivery service, their web app gives you the ability to put DVDs in your queue so that they can get mailed to you. Without this functionality and interactive capability, you’d only have a static website where you could read movie descriptions and see the covers of the DVDs. 

What are Web Apps?

When you view a website, it’s hosted in your web browser and provides you with information. A blog is a good example. A web application, on the other hand, provides you with a richer user experience by adding some type of functionality. Examples include online auctions, instant messaging services, webmail and online retail sales.

Web App Development

Web applications are delivered to you via a web browser like Mozilla Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome. They’re created by a single web developer or a small development team, and is done by using HTML, CSS and JavaScript on the client side.

HTML lets your browser know how to display the content and CSS formats the content so that it looks better on the screen. JavaScript adds a certain type of code so that the content becomes interactive. This is all done on the front end in your browser.

Meanwhile, the back-end programming runs on a server and utilises a scripting language like PHP, Java or Ruby. It powers the client side by supplying the scripts that are used by a web application.

Creating A Web App

When a web app is being built, a large amount of code is written. Inevitably, there may be a few mistakes and errors. During the process, the data is tested to make sure that it’s functioning correctly. These web app development tests are done to determine the following:

  • Stress
  • Load
  • Performance
  • Accessibility
  • Usability

In addition, HTML and CSS validation is done to ensure that those languages are written without errors. A web app developer must also make sure that the app that is being created works on all types of browsers.

Native Apps

A native app is what you might think about when you are using your smartphone. You download this type of app in order to use it, and it’s totally separate from a website.

Unlike a web app that is written by using JavaScript, native apps are written in a specific language that is associated with the platform that they are being built for.

If you’re using an iPhone that uses the iOS operating system, a native app built for it would need to be written in Objective-C or Swift. If you’re using an android phone, native apps used on it are written in Java, and C# is used for a native app that’s being built for a Windows phone.

Examples of native apps include the following:

  • Facebook
  • Google Maps
  • Instagram
  • Pokémon GO

Native apps can be more efficient and faster due to their ability to work in tandem with the operating system of the mobile device that they are built for. However, they are also more expensive to develop. They will have to be maintained across different mobile platforms, which can result in higher costs and more time spent on maintenance.


Since a native app is created to work with a specific operating system, it is totally compatible with all the native features on that hardware device. This would include a camera or accelerometer.

On the other hand, a web application only has a limited amount of access to native features on different devices. However, a web app does not have to be updated manually. Unlike native apps where you’ll need to download any available updates on your standalone device, all web app updates are done by a developer, which means that you may not even know that an upgrade has already happened.

Why Might Your Business Need A Web App Built?

There are many reasons why you may need a web app development for your business or website. Web apps can include the following:

  • File scanning
  • Photo editing
  • Video editing
  • Spreadsheets
  • Word processors
  • Shopping carts
  • Online forms

If you decide to make money with your website and need a way to monetise, you could have a web app built, which can give you the ability to charge membership fees or show advertisements.

Benefits Of Web Apps Versus Building Native Apps

The advantages of building your own web app include the following:

  • Web apps have the ability to run on multiple platforms, operating systems and devices
  • Users have access to the same version, which eliminates compatibility issues
  • No installation on a hard drive is needed, which eliminates any space limitations
  • Helps eliminate software piracy when subscription-based web apps are used

While native apps have the ability to run faster since they are built specifically for a certain operating system, they are more expensive. Native apps will have to be created for iOS, Windows and Android.

Consider Your Business Objectives 

When you’re trying to determine if you should build a web app or native app, it’s important to define your business objectives. You can do this by answering a few questions:

  • What’s your total budget for this type of development?
  • Does your app need to be fine-tuned and run extremely fast?
  • What type of user experience is required?
  • Are there any complex features associated with your app to make it work?

If you’re having an app built that requires the added functionality of a camera such as the Pokémon GO augmented reality game, developing a native app makes the most sense, but if you’re just adding a spreadsheet, shopping cart or some type of online form, a web app is going to be best.

Want to learn more about web app development for your business? Talk to us today.

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