How to Develop A Web Application From Start To Finish: A Comprehensive Guide

MAY 20, 2022

Web applications are a staple of the internet. From social media to e-commerce, nearly every site you visit is powered by a web application. But how do you build one yourself?

This guide explains all the processes involved in web application development. You’ll learn about the different technologies and frameworks in web application development.

Key Takeaways:

  • A web application is a software that you can access by a web browser over the internet
  • Web applications store all their data on a remote server
  • The first step of building a web app is to establish your business requirements and user stories
  • Next, design the user interface and establish the navigation and workflow
  • Create the back end, including the database schema and business rules
  • Write the front-end code, including the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Test and debug the application
  • Deploy your web application to a server
  • Build a Flawless Web App With RD Global’s Professional Team

What Is a Web Application?

A web application is a type of software accessed by a web browser. A web application is written in various programming languages, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and delivered to a web browser as a web page.

Web applications are popular because you can use them with a web browser and an Internet connection from any computer. Web applications do not require any software installed on the user’s computer.

How Does a Web Application Work?

The best example of a web application is email: When you open an email program like Microsoft Outlook, you’re using an application on your desktop computer. But when you send mail to someone else, it goes through their email server and then through their own computer’s email program (and usually back again).

Web applications are different from desktop software in several ways:

They don’t have to be installed. You can download web apps from the internet and run them right away without any installation process (though some do have a setup wizard). That’s why they’re sometimes called “click-and-install” applications.

Web apps don’t store their data locally on your hard drive or another local storage device. Instead, web apps store all their data on a remote server somewhere else on the internet.

The Benefits of Using a Web Application

Web apps serve many different purposes and have distinct benefits. One of the most apparent benefits is accessing your application from any computer with an internet connection. You can work on your application from anywhere.

In addition, web applications are often more secure than traditional software applications. Because they are hosted on remote servers, web applications are less likely to be affected by viruses or malware. Additionally, web applications are often updated more frequently than traditional software applications, which means you will access the latest features and bug fixes.

How to Build a Web Application

Building a web application is a complex process, but there are six primary phases of development:

1. Establish the Business Requirements and User Stories

The first step in designing any system is understanding and documenting the business requirements. Define what the system should do and understand the users of the system and their needs.

When building a web app, consider what your users will expect. Users typically don’t want to be distracted by features that are irrelevant or might be helpful but require too much work to learn how to use them effectively.

Second, think about the goals of your web application and how people will use it. Your goal is likely some combination of making money and increasing brand awareness or visibility. You may also want people to share their opinion about products or services with others online or offline through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

In the case of a web application, it is essential to document the high-level requirements and the user stories for each requirement. This step will help design a system that meets the actual needs of the users, rather than just blindly following a set of requirements.

2. Design the User Interface and Establish the Navigation and Workflow

The next step is to create a wireframe. A wireframe is a low-fidelity representation of how the app will look and function. It’s easier to create than a mockup, but it still provides a good idea of how things work together.

Wireframes are built with simple shapes, lines, and text in Balsamiq or Sketch programs. They’re not exact representations of what your app will look like; they’re just meant to convey the general idea of how things will work together.

The user interface (UI) is the part of a web application that is visible to the end-user. The UI design includes the layout, colors, fonts, and images. It is crucial to design a user-friendly interface that is easy to use and understand, especially for those unfamiliar with technology.

Navigation can be divided into two categories: global navigation and local navigation. Global navigation refers to menus at the top or bottom of a page; local navigation refers to links within an article or page.

Workflow refers to how people interact with your application and how they complete different tasks. For example, if you have an e-commerce site, there will be a shopping cart workflow where customers purchase items and check out by providing their payment information and shipping details.

3. Create the Back-End Logic With Database Schema and Business Rules

When you’re building a web application, you’ll need to create the back-end logic for the application, including the database schema and business rules.

  • Database schema – The database schema defines how data is stored and organized in your database. For example, if you have a table for users with columns like first name and last name, this is part of your database schema. You’ll need to create this before you can store any data in the database.
  • Business rules – Business rules define how your application should use data. For example, if you want to give discounts based on how much a customer spends, this is part of your business rule system. This rule helps keep you from making mistakes in how you use data in your application, which could cause errors later when trying to make changes to existing functionality or add new features.

You’ll also want to make your application secure and scalable to handle many users and high traffic volumes. Some approaches use a framework like Django or Rails. Frameworks provide an easy way to start your project by providing standard libraries and tools for developing web applications. They also provide an organized structure for writing Python, Ruby, or Java code.

You can also build your framework from scratch using one of these open-source frameworks: ExpressJS (Node), Flask (Python), and Sinatra (Ruby). These frameworks provide an easy way to start your project by providing shared libraries and tools for developing web applications. They also provide an organized structure for writing NodeJS, Python, or Ruby code.

4. Write the Front-End Code, including the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

The front-end code is what you see when you open a web page. This part of your app your user sees, so this is where you typically spend most of your time. This code consists of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The HTML defines the page’s structure, CSS defines its appearance, and JavaScript adds interactivity (e.g., event handlers).

  • HTML – HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s the code used to create web pages and display text and images.
  • CSS – CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. CSS style elements on a web page, such as colors, fonts, and spacing between elements. CSS also allows us to create animations using transitions or keyframes.
  • JavaScript – JavaScript is a programming language used to manipulate client-side data within a browser environment on mobile devices and desktop computers. Developers use JavaScript to add interactivity, control movement and animation, validate forms, etc.

Front-end development can happen simultaneously as back-end development (see below) but often happens in parallel so that they can integrate.

5. Test and Debug the Application

Performance tests ensure that your application performs well under various load conditions and stress tests. These performance tests include benchmarking tests that show how fast your application runs under normal conditions. Stress tests show how fast a web app runs under abnormal conditions like high traffic loads or high transaction volumes. Scalability tests determine how well your application performs.

The quality assurance process involves many different activities, including:

  • Web app design and architecture
  • Functional testing (also known as black-box testing)
  • Performance testing
  • User interface testing (UI)
  • Regression testing

Common web application security issues include cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and remote code execution. Quality Assurance testers find these vulnerabilities using automated scanners or manual penetration testing tools.

Automated scanners can detect potential security vulnerabilities. A good scanner should provide information about all potential vulnerabilities in the system, including their severity and impact level.

A manual penetration test involves analyzing a system’s code manually by a professional hacker so that he can find vulnerabilities that an automated scanner cannot detect. You can also use manual penetration tests to see if there are any other vulnerabilities that an automated scanner cannot detect.

6. Deploy Your Web Application to a Server

The final step in building the app is to deploy it on a web server. This process includes copying over all the files from your development environment to the staging or production environment and setting up all the necessary settings so that the app can run properly.

When deploying your application, the steps you follow will depend on the server you’re using. If you have a dedicated server, you have root access, which means you can install software directly on the server. If you’re using shared hosting, you’ll need to use an FTP client to upload files to a directory on your host’s servers.

Once you’ve got your application running on a server, there are several things you should do. First, set up security on your web app, including passwords for logins and firewalls so that only authorized users can access your site. As bugs are found, or features are added, updates need to be pushed out so that all users have access to them.

Build a Flawless Web App With RD Global’s Professional Team

RD Global’s team of experts has experience building large-scale applications for clients across various industries from Insurtech and finance to retail and manufacturing. Our team can help you build your app by providing expert guidance at every stage of development, from planning to testing and deployment.

Some of our web development services include:

  • Web application development
  • Mobile app development
  • Custom software development

With RD Global’s team of talented developers, designers, and marketers, you can create a flawless website that gets your brand noticed. Contact RD Global today to learn more.

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"Insurance Technology leader and Software entrepreneur with decades of experience leading technology initiatives for fortune 500 organizations. Rajesh Nambiar founded RD Global to create a unique digital consultancy offering high quality software solutions with an extreme commitment to customer experience."

MAY 20, 2022
RD Global Empowers Insurance Companies to optimize total digital experience, unify data, and harmonize processes by developing high impact technology solutions infused with a 5-star customer experience.