How to Develop a Web Application [A Detailed Guide]

Published On: July 6, 2022
Last Updated: March 5, 2024
How to Develop a Web Application [A Detailed Guide]

In today’s digital world, having a web presence is crucial for any business or organization. Whether you want to sell products online, provide services to your customers, or simply showcase your brand, a well-designed and functional web application can help you achieve your goals.

At GuruTechnoLabs, we specialize in developing web applications. We understand that every business has unique needs and requirements, and we work closely with our clients to deliver customized solutions that meet their specific goals and objectives.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the key steps involved in developing a web application. From planning and design to development and deployment, we’ll cover everything you need to know to create a successful web application that engages your audience and drives results.

So whether you’re a small business owner or a large enterprise, we’ve got you covered. We will explain how to develop a web application.

Before that, you should know the basics of the web application.

Here, we will look at benefits of web development, types of web apps, and then compare web applications with website and mobile apps.

What is a Web Application?

A web application is mainly a computer program that leverages a web browser and web technology to perform things on the internet. It interacts with the server-side for handling data via HTML, AJAX, or API requests.

It usually consists of two parts: server-side & client-side. A server-side is necessary to store and retrieve data. After which, it utilizes client-side scripting to show data extracted from the server-side on the UI.

Some well-known web applications are Gmail, Adobe Flash, Pure Formulas, etc.

Now let’s look at the difference between a web application and website.

Web Application Vs Website
A website is linked to a single domain name and published on at least one server. Whenever a user accesses the website, the first thing that appears in their mind is information like articles, product information, and more.

On the contrary, a web application is a dynamic platform that enables users to interact effectively.

To know the detailed comparison between a website and a web application, check out this blog on website vs web application.

Let’s see the difference between web apps and mobile apps.

Web vs Mobile App
Web apps can be accessed using a web browser. A web app doesn’t require much space. It is also cost-effective and more adaptable compared to mobile apps.

Also Read: Web App Vs Native App

Benefits of Web Application Development

Here are some of the essential benefits you can get when you build a web application for business:

  • Web app is a cost-effective solution compared to the native app for most entrepreneurs and businesses to reach customers on any platform.
  • If you build a web application, you can easily customize it for multiple devices simultaneously.
  • You can maintain the web application without any headaches. In the case of a web app, you only have to make changes to the host server, and later it will get reflected in the entire web app.
  • It provides more flexibility & scalability. If any issue happens, you can replace the entire server.
  • A web app allows you to enhance your business traction, build brand awareness, present business ideology, and gain a leading position in a specific industry.

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Types of Web Applications

There are two types of web applications:

Static Web Applications
These are built like static web pages wherein all the visitors will find similar information. These web apps are made using CSS and HTML and are not flexible in their functionalities.

Dynamic Web Applications
These web apps are highly interactive and use server-side and client-side programming. Due to this, these web apps offer different results based on the input you have made.

The dynamic web applications are further divided into different web applications.

  • eCommerce web apps:These web apps are considered online stores, such as eCommerce sites. These web apps can handle transactions and consist of highly secure payment gateways.
  • Progressive Web Apps: Progressive web apps are websites that give a look and feel like an app. These apps are built using primary web technologies such as JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Some of the leading companies worldwide have created their PWAs. To know more, check out the PWA examples.
  • Portal Web Apps: It is an interactive tool anchored to a secure website that allows the user to do some specific task. Here, users login into a secure area directly from the homepage. One example of a portal web app includes an educational portal that requires the user to log in.

Apart from these, there are various other types of web apps. To know in detail, read our blog on types of web applications.

Now, we will provide a step-by-step process to develop a web application. You can follow this process to build a highly functional and feature-rich web application from scratch.

How to Develop a Web Application

Are you wondering how to develop a web application? The web application development process doesn’t differ from any other software development life cycle. Here are 14 steps to build a web application.

Step 1: Source And Validate Your Idea

The process starts with identifying and defining the problem you want to solve through your web application.

Follow customer problem-solving approaches and brainstorm ideas. Identify the problem you are facing that others might face too.

Once you have identified the issue, the next step is to think about the following:

  • For what purpose will people use this app?
  • Will this web app make life easier for your user?
  • What solutions does your app offer more than others?

Your web app idea doesn’t have to be pathbreaking. You can enhance an existing idea by adding new functionalities and features.

Once you have researched for best web app ideas and finalized a best one, validate it. Validation will help you find out which idea will actually work. But how? First, start researching about the target audience and get their perspective.

Contact different people in a particular niche and discuss their issues. Leverage social media and find relevant information.

Step 2: Conduct Market Research

After you select an idea, initiate market research to see the following:

  • A product already exists
  • A market exists for that product

A Product Already Exists

If a product exists in the market, don’t worry. It is a good sign to know your market exists, so do deeper research.

Discover the solution offered by them and what are the user’s expectations. Try to find loopholes and how you can improve the quality of your solution, whether it needs design, functionality, or performance-wise improvement.

If a similar product doesn’t exist, you are a genius innovator. But there is also a possibility that someone has tried this path and terribly failed.

A Market Exists for that Product
Find the gaps in the market. To understand market presence, go through the following:

  • Google Trends – A search of your web app and finding trending ideas
  • Social Media & Forums – Present your idea to social media & forums related to your target market. Take validation if anyone works within your target market.
  • Google Keyword Planner – Write a keyword list related to your web app. It indicates how many people are searching for your terms, helping you know the target market.

After knowing the market’s existence, understand the target audience’s problems, as an established competition exists. So if your potential users still face issues, a good opportunity is there in the market for you to grab.

Step 3: Define Your Web Apps Functionality

In this phase, you are passing from your aspirations (regarding your web app) to identifying those features that your app should offer.

Now it’s time to mention the core functionalities of your web app. Only add those features that will be helpful for your users.

To help you prioritize key features and functionality, follow the MoSCoW approach and list down all the major & minor features.

  • Mo — Must have features
  • S — Should have features
  • Co — Could have features
  • W — Won’t need features

Only define the functionality that solves your target market’s problems and offer a better solution than an existing web app.

If you keep adding the functionalities, it will make your web app more complex. These features will be used in later planning, so to help get the product released early, keep it with basic functionality. It saves your cost & time.

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Step 4: Sketch Your Web App in Note Book

There are multiple stages of designing a web app, and you must start by sketching the design. If you want to go old school, use pen and paper, or another way is to use sketch designing software to sketch the interface.

When sketching, consider the following:

  • Navigation
  • Elements of branding
  • Forms
  • Social media icons
  • Buttons, scrolls, transition windows
  • Other interactive components

Sketch different versions of your web app and interpret functionality and how your app should work. Take notes that help you understand why you have designed these elements at a later stage.

Keep it simple as your sketch design is for communicating. Complicating the design will lead to frustration.

Step 5: Plan Your Web Apps Workflow

Now it’s time to map out the user journey and create a flow of your web app. It helps to understand users’ needs and issues and how your design will resolve those difficulties. Mapping each step of the user journey includes:

  • User Signup
  • Login sequence
  • Navigation through a web app
  • Making payments
  • Changing settings
  • Downloading
  • Logging off
  • Canceling subscriptions

The goal is to have a quick idea about the working flow of your web app. For example, understanding that Logged in users will see a different page than Logged out users.

Step 6: Create Wireframe and Prototype

A wireframe is similar to a sketch but created on a computer. It gives you a much more detailed representation of your web application design.

The wireframe you designed gives a perfect idea of how web apps will look.

After wireframing, the next step is to build your web app prototype. Here, you enhance interactivity to your wireframe so that it acts as a web app.

A prototype has limited functionality, and you can use it to test your idea.

Multiple prototyping tools help you to demonstrate your web app concept. Some of these include the following.

  • Sketch.
  • Invision.
  • Adobe XD.
  • Balsamiq.

To create a modern and attractive design for your web app, refer to our guide on web application design.

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Step 7: Seek Early Validation of Your Design

Your prototype is ready; to validate it, present your web app to potential users. It helps you know whether people are interested or not in what you have in store.

Go to your target market’s forums, verify their issues and present your solution. Get constructive feedback from them. Build a rapport as they could become your customers.

Take notes and document all your feedback, as it helps in the development of your MEP (Minimal Excellent Product).

Validation done! It’s time to start developing your web app.

Step 8: Choose Right Technology Stack

You need to choose the right set of the technology stack to build a web application. A tech stack has frameworks and languages that build the front-end and back-end.

The front end (client-side) has elements of visual representation of how the web app looks.

  • Programming languages: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Frameworks: React JS, Vue JS

The back-end (server-side) has everything on the server, the backbone of the web app of how it works.

  • Framework – Laravel
  • Server-side languages – Python, PHP, Ruby, C#, C++, GO, Java, Perl
  • Database – MongoDB, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server
  • Web server – Apache, Nginx
  • Operating system – Windows, macOS, iOS, Linux, Android

There are popular tech stack combinations that are best for web app development.

  • LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP / Perl / Python)
  • MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, Node.js)
  • MERN (MongoDB, Express.js, React, Node.js)
  • Ruby on Rails (a “full stack” language covering the front and back end, with no fixed stack).

To know in detail about choosing a proper tech stack for your web app, check out this blog on the tech stack for web app development.

Step 9: Architect Your Database

The database is the code repository for your web or mobile app. It is responsible for storing, processing, collecting and managing data while providing secure access.

Choosing a database is quite easy as the entire market is captured by two MySQL and other options, including MongoDB and PostgreSQL.

Which one to use depends on your app, time, budget, and functionality considerations. But keep the security factor in mind.

After deciding, create the architecture following MVC(Model-View-Controller) architecture.

Step 10: Develop Your Front-end

All the things visible on the browser are included in front-end technology. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are used for modern front-end development.

When working on the front-end development, you must check the app’s usability and responsiveness. Your app’s design should be easy and attractive to use, irrespective of the size and shape of the screen.

Now, all you need to start by setting up a development environment:

  • Choose a code editor, like VS Code
  • Compilation framework and packaging, e.g. Webpack
  • Frontend framework, e.g. React, Vue, Angular etc.;

Apart from these, developers also take the help of different front-end frameworks to enhance the web app development process.

Set up packaging tools to communicate with the backend, which runs on different ports on localhost and is done using an HTTP proxy Node. Most have this option built-in or available as plugins.

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Step 11: Develop Your Backend

Back-end development is the server-side logic that boosts your web app from “behind the scenes.” It includes the database, the server, and the web application’s logic (code).

The back-end operations will decide the working of the app. So programming languages meant for building the back-end components are PHP, Python, Java, C# & more.

While there are many choices, the back end begins with choosing either:

  • Multi-page Application: Web app where a new page is requested from the server to display when data is exchanged forward and backwards.
  • Single-page Application: It interacts continuously by dynamically rewriting the current page rather than loading a new page from the server.

Popular back-end frameworks include Ruby on Rails, Node.js, Flask, Django, Laravel, Swift, and Flutter. There are many web app frameworks available in the industry. To know the list of popular frameworks and choose the best, refer to this blog on web application frameworks.

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Step12: Test Your Web Application

The testing of the web application is a continuous process. It not only happens during the development phase but also after it.

Testing is possible automatically or manually. In testing, it is necessary to check the usability, functionality, compatibility, performance, and security of a web app.

Let us understand these things in brief.

Usability: Test the entire user experience of the web app.

Functionality: Test various things like internal links between all pages, database connections, user provided details, and connectivity.

Interface: Check whether the communication between the app server and the web server is okay.
Compatibility: Check compatibility across various browsers and devices.

Performance: Verify web app performance in slow & fast internet connections. Moreover, verify web app performance with massive data.

Security: Check web application vulnerabilities and resolve them as soon as possible.

Also Read: Best practices to keep your web application secure

Step13: Host Your Web Application

Once you have developed and tested your app, you need to find a server hosting your web application. When you host a web app on the server, it can be accessed from anywhere.

For this, you have to buy a domain and set up an SSL certificate. Now choose a good cloud provider like Google Cloud Platform, MS Azure, Amazon (AWS), etc.

Step 14: Launch Your Web Application

Once you have found the host of your web app, you are all set to go live. In the final step, move your web app from the source control system to the cloud hosting provider.

In development, many other tools are available to help, including GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, and Jenkins.

However, the ultimate goal of any product development is deployment. The principles of Agile and DevOps applied to the deployment are not one-time steps. It’s the start of continuous feedback, refinement and delivery process to ensure any feature updates and app enhancements are constantly being released.

How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Web App?

In general, the cost of the web application relies on the complexity and the overall time needed to create it. The estimated cost of web application development ranges from $2000 to $50,000 or more.

A web application is divided into three categories considering its complexity. Let us look at the cost of building different categories of web applications along with their features.

Complexity Simple Web App Medium Web App Complex Web App
Cost $2,000 – $12,000 $12,000 – $40,000 $40,000 – $1,00,000
  • Basic landing page
  • Static content
  • Not much interactive
  • Basic functions
  • Landing page
  • Highly interactive content
  • Plugin integrations
  • Database Integration
  • User sign up
  • Landing page
  • Highly interactive content
  • Plugin integrations
  • Database Integration
  • User sign up
  • Better personalization
  • Online portfolio
  • Basic calculator
  • eCommerce web app
  • Online portals
  • CRM
  • Social media web apps

Here is the list of essential factors affecting web application development costs.

  • Complexity
  • Functionality
  • Composition of the development team
  • Hiring opportunities
  • Developer’s location
  • Timeframe

To know in detail about the factors, check out this blog on web application development cost.

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Wrapping Up

Web application development is not going to end soon. Various organizations and businesses globally would go with web app development because they offer better interactivity, a range of functionalities, and top-notch performance. Moreover, a web app allows businesses to reach a wider audience.

You must have understood the process of how to build a web app.

If you have an excellent web app idea & want to convert it into reality, then don’t hesitate to contact us.

Guru TechnoLabs is a well-known web application development company. We have delivered some of the best web apps to clients worldwide. Hence, we can understand your idea and provide you with the most suitable solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

The time required to build a web application ranges from 3 weeks to 25 weeks. This difference in time depends on the complexity, and developer location & experience.

The cost to build a web application starts from $3,000 and goes up to $1,50,000. The cost is heavily dependent on a range of factors like complexity, functionality, development team, whom you hire, and location & experience of the developer.

Ravi Makhija
Ravi Makhija

Ravi Makhija is an entrepreneur, an IT professional, tech geek, founder & CEO at Guru TechnoLabs - Globally Trusted Web & Mobile App Development Company. He loves writing about new technologies and the latest trends in the IT field.