Understanding web app development as a beginner can be a little daunting. Whether you are new to web development/coding, an entrepreneur, a business owner, or you like to tinker around in app development, this article aims to carefully break down the web app development process.

Unfortunately, this is not a full guide, like what ​Budibase​ has laid out. Instead, we want to provide you with the framework for how web app development works so that you have an understanding of this process, whether you are looking to build one yourself or you are looking to partner with a web development company for building software.

Read on to learn more about web app development and the main stages.

 

Web App Development Overview

In general, web app development is a multi-stage process:

  • Define the problem you are solving as this develops the goal of the web app and the basis of the web app design
  • Map out the web application’s actual workflow (and not the workflow of the project)
  • Wireframe​/prototype the web application
  • Receive feedback from potential users, like clients and customers
  • Choose the app build tools (most web apps require tools for coding)
  • Build your web application
  • Test and sandbox your web application
  • Host your web application on a server and deploying the software

If you’ve never looked into coding at all, then understanding what this process looks like can be a bit murky. However, understand that this is the general order of operations that a developer will follow. Differences come into play when the problem being solved is different (such as a mobile app needs to be created instead of a web-based application), different methodologies are required, and different tools are necessary.

To provide a more detailed overview of this process, we’ve organized the development into four main stages of software development: the pre-design stage, the design stage, the development stage, and the support stage.

Web App Pre-Design and Design Stage

The pre-build stage of software development involves defining the problem, mapping the software workflow, wireframing, getting feedback, and then preparing for the web app build stage.

Depending on the current thoughts surrounding your software, this stage can take a long time or it can take a few days or weeks. Ideally, if you are working with a software development team, then they will be able to guide you through the process of software ideation and then provide all of the key materials moving forward.

The design stage is crucial to the development of a fully-functioning web application because it lays out what the software should look like, the problems it will solve, and user experience and functionality. You then need to prototype this idea to ensure that the ideas for the software make sense. Showing these ideas to a potential user in a realistic way will you give a better sense of how the product works and therefore its viability.

Once the software prototype has been approved, then you can move forward into the web build stage.

 

Web App Development Stage

Once you or the ​development team ​has been approved through the software prototype stage, then you can begin to build the software. In order to build the software, you should have some idea of the application functionality, the tools needed to build the software, and coding specifics.

Keep in mind that there are a number of web application development frameworks to use, and deciding which one is best for your software needs can be difficult. However, once you’ve found that framework that works best for your software development needs, then you’ll notice that the framework actually makes life easier.

Common frameworks include:

  • Rails, written in Ruby (otherwise known as Ruby on Rails)
  • Django, written in Python
  • Laravel, written in PHP

When understanding these frameworks, recognize that the first word (like Rails) is the tool being used and the second word (like Ruby) is the programming language. If you are looking to use any of the above programming languages, then these programming frameworks would work well for you. Note that some projects will do better in certain programming languages. For more complex needs, like scientific programming or data manipulation, it is recommended that you go with Django written in Python.

In actually building the software, you are looking to:

  • Build the database​: This includes determining the type of data you need to store and data sizes. If you need to store financial data, for example, then the database requires certain requirements and it may need additional licensing.
  • Frontend development​: Front end development might occur at the same time as backend development, and this might involve a back-and-forth process to nail down details. The frontend development should mirror the wireframing done in the pre-build stage as this determines the look and layout of the software. The front end might be build using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Backend development​: This is probably one of the most difficult aspects of web app The backend is the meat of the software and it needs to provide HTTP endpoints to your front end. It will also need to authenticate users, provide authorization, and serve the front end.

Once the software has been built, then you can work through testing and sandboxing the software so that it functions seamlessly and in the way that it was designed to.

Eventually, the web app is ready to be deployed. Since this program will be hosted online, you’ll need to source a server and launch the application. If the program uses any additional services, like APIs, then you’ll need to integrate those and connect the necessary services.

 

Web App Finalization and Support Stage

For the most part, this part of the process suggests that your application is live and can be used by real people! In going through this process, you’ll have a fully functional app on your hands!

Once the web application build is done, this does not necessarily mean that the job is done. Most ​web application developers ​still stay on top of the product updates, providing additional services after the deployment of the software like application management, updates, and improvements.