Creating a Web App

You want your app to work on all devices across the board, but paying two or more developers doesn’t quite fit into your budget. A web-based app may be the route you want to take. Web apps use HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery to display information and media on the device. These are the same coding languages websites use to display information and media.

Like anything else, there are pros and cons to developing a web-based app:

PROS

  • The app will look and function the same on any device that has access to the internet.
  • All the app’s data is stored in a database, and accessible for management and maintenance from anywhere via the internet.
  • Developing a web app from start to finish takes significantly less time than a native app deployed on each device platform.
  • Web apps are great for businesses and enterprises that need a consistent application across all systems.

CONS

  • The device requires a WiFi or data connection to the internet to view the content of the app, or access the data.
  • Mobile web apps have a limited scope as far as accessing a mobile device’s features is concerned.
  • Users may sometimes find it difficult to discover a web app, as it is not systematically listed in any app store.
  • Since web apps require a connection to the internet, their performance is affected by the connection speed.

Web Apps – the four D’s

When beginning new project, the developer thoroughly reviews the application specification to learn about what he/she is going to be creating. Before any programming begins, the developer needs to know exactly what the app is expected to do. The design, data, development, and deployment specifications all need to be taken into consideration.

DESIGN

There are three main branches to the design phase of development: general look and feel, user interface (UI), and functionality. All three of these branches come together into a collection of elements called the user experience (UX). The developer is typically not the person that will be providing the UX. This is supplied by a graphic designer or, in many cases, the customer themselves.

DATA

It is possible to integrate content with existing databases, or create a standalone database dedicated to the app exclusively. There are data hosting websites such as parse.com, heroku.com, and apigee.com that offer reliable and secure service. The developer integrates the web app with the data host typically through JavaScript, but PHP or another programming language may also be used.

DEVELOPMENT

In the development phase of creating a web app, the UX is coded into HTML and CSS, and the data is coded into its respective coding language–JavaScript or PHP, etc. The developer brings it all together into one masterpiece that works the same on all major devices with internet connectivity.

DEPLOYMENT

There are a variety of ways to deploy a web-based application. The route you choose depends mostly on the purpose of the app. Was it built for use by a business or enterprise, or are you hoping to sell it on the App Store/Play Store? A deployment in a business or enterprise can be as simple as an email containing a hyperlink sent to all users. More complex business/enterprise deployments can be managed through Multi Device Management (MDM) software. App Store/Play Store deployments require more time, as they need to be distributed through their respective native software. This can be an easy process if the web app was made using PhoneGap, because it uses the Apache Cordova library to create hybrid web/native apps that run on all of the following platforms: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Palm WebOS, Bada, and Symbian.

Now that you have a brief understanding of the way a web app works, you may consider this as an option to reach a broad audience with the least amount of leg work.  Good luck on creating your first mobile web app!

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