Anyone can build a simple web app. Understanding the basics of its working mechanism, web technologies, servers, and databases is all you need to kickstart your journey.
What is a web application?
Web applications are accessed through your internet browser. They are stored on a remote server and are responsive based on the device they are being opened on. For a web app to run, it needs a web server that allows the application to manage inputs from the clients. It also needs an application server to execute the task. All the needed information is stored in the web database.
There are many benefits of building a simple web application with its handy medium and endless possibilities.
- Compatibility: Web apps can be used on any operating system. It is supported by most modern internet browsers, web browsers and desktop environments.
- Easy accessibility: With their easy accessibility through the internet browser, and web browser, it makes the application user experience much more convenient. With no hassle of downloading, users are more likely to use a web app.
- Responsive nature: Most web applications are responsive and, therefore, user-friendly in all devices.
- Inexpensive: When comparing application development, web app development is much cheaper than mobile app development as it incorporates common code and remote servers.
- No storage requirement: Web applications don’t need to be downloaded. Therefore, they don’t take up any storage space in the device and can easily be used in the browser. All information is stored in the user’s database.
- Multiple accessibilities: A web app can be opened in more than one browser simultaneously.
- Security: Simple web applications are simple systems that include data sources, unlike complex systems, like mobile apps, that have separate systems and data sources. As a result, web applications allow no access to data and back-end servers to an external source, making it more secure.
Prerequisites of building a simple web application
If you are considering building a web application, there are certain things you need to be familiar with to construct a strong base for a high-quality application.
To create a practical, user-friendly, interactive and engaging web application, you need a basic understanding of the three web technologies that serve different purposes:
- Structuring your web app.
For a web application, you need the content and a way to put content into it. HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is a markup language that gives structure to your content. It allows you to use elements that help you place content to make it appear in a particular way in your web app, from choosing the heading size and text appearance to text styles and image placements. A basic understanding of HTML will help you structure the content of your web app as per your needs and preferences.
- Styling your web app
Putting together an application requires styling your content with a certain design choice and needs in mind. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a style sheet language that helps you to style the content you put out through HTML. For example, it will help you determine which colour background you want or choose the font colour of your preference.
- Dynamic client-side scripting
- Familiarity with a text editor or code editor.
Text editors and code editors are tools to give you a platform to write and edit code. Notepad and TextEdit are the two most common examples of text editors in Windows and Mac traditionally used to write codes. In contrast, a code editor is a modern tool specifically designed for coding. They are facilitated with a wide range of features like syntax highlighting, indentation, and auto-completion to make coding more efficient. Some code editors also have language translators. Visual Studio Code is the most popular code editor. It is lightweight and has many plugins to which it can be optimised to give a comfortable environment for development.
Now that you have a basic understanding of languages and the tools to write them, here is a step-by-step guide to walk you through everything you need to build your web app.
Step 1: Set up a development environment.
To build a web app, you need a server. When you’re still structuring it, figuring out what works for you and what can be done better, you need a platform to see what your app looks like so far. Local hosts are used to hosting your drafted application and storing all its databases locally.
Creating a local server
A local server is a server that exists locally on your device. You need to download a server for your OS. As you write code for a web application in a code editor, you will be able to execute that code with the help of a local web server. Your local server is only accessible to you and gives a local address to your application that only your computer can open. It allows you to run the web app and acts as a platform to see how your app is executed and how it looks. Apache, Nginx, etc., are free local web servers available.
Create a database
Similarly, a database server is a machine running database software that stores all the data of your web app. A database server also allows you to enter additional data or content into your application. When building a web application, you need software to create a database to keep, insert, organise, and manage all the data. MySQL is an open-source data management system that helps you organise and manage your data. SQLite is a relational database management system embedded in your local server. It is used to create and manage a database while also being an in-process library.
Step 2: Create the basic structure of the web application.
With your local and database servers all set, you will now move on to create a basic structure for the web application. As mentioned earlier, you can create a basic outline of the text element of your website using HTML. From setting the heading, and inserting logos and images, to where you intend to place different paragraphs, outline texts, and products name, this stage is when you brainstorm the presentation and design aspects.
You can style the texts and images you structured with the help of CSS. Now is the time to decide how you want the users to perceive the content of your website. From the colour of the text to place the background elements, you will have the creative freedom to style the web application as per your needs, taking a direction that serves the purpose of your app well.
Step 4: Connect to a database.
With a dynamic web application comes tons of data like text, images and multimedia. A database stores all of this information. While your web application runs and you enter more data, it is stored in the database. Therefore, it is necessary to connect to a proper database.
The easiest way to connect your web app to a database is by using management systems like MySQL and SQLite. After downloading it, you need to make your account by entering a username and password and setting a location for the database to stay on your computer. With the help of some codes, you will connect to your web host’s database to assess and store the information. Now your application will support data, and you will be able to use a basic code presented in the web application on your local web server.
Step 5: Test and debug the web application.
After tons of practice and preparation of your web app’s basic structure, style and dynamics, you will have an end product to view in the local host. Now is when all the efforts will come to test as you execute the program.
At this stage, you will debug any web application errors. Errors or bugs can be of different types. Runtime and logical errors happen when the output is not as per the plan due to coding mistakes. You need to carefully review what went wrong and try ways to resolve them. After correcting the errors and working your way through to match your expectations to the output, your web application is ready!
Step 6: Deploy the web application.
The application must be hosted on the webserver so it can be accessible to the users. This is called deploying. Until now, you were only doing that in your local server, where only you could open it. Lucky for you, there are many tools you can use to do the work for you. Vercel, Netlify, Heroku, and GitHub Pages are some examples of the most popular deployment tools used in Australia. These tools will help you receive a link you can share to view your web app and are essential before the official launch to help users reach your web application.
How long does it take to make a simple web app?
After you are familiar with building a simple web application, the actual work is no walk in the park. The entire front-end design and back-end development require much logic and trial and error to figure out what works and fits best with your initial plan. Then comes the debugging process and improving parts of your app you aren’t satisfied with.
On average, it takes around four and a half months to build a web app, give or take a couple of months based on the design, debugging process and necessary improvements. The period also depends on the skills and experience of the one building it. The process might be faster if your developer has a better grip on the codes and a concrete concept of the end product. If not, the development may take longer than expected.
How much does it cost to make a simple Web app?
Building a simple web app can range from $40,000 to $60,000. This range varies depending on the type of application you need. If it is more on the simpler side, the codes are comparatively less complicated to write and execute, and the price can drop to around $20k. But if your app requires more work, attention to detail, advanced features, and inclines more towards the characteristics of advanced or complex applications, the price can exceed the range.
Building a simple web application, while easy, can be overwhelming because of the intense process of learning how to code and creating strategies to execute them. Doing all the work yourself will give you the creative freedom to bring out exactly what you, or your company, wants. This blog article will be a great help if you want to build a web app but don’t know where to start and how to go forth with it.
Even after building a web app, you need to consider more aspects to help improve the user experience. Addressing user demands, regular updates, and timely corrections of possible errors will help your app be more user-friendly. For now, pat yourself on the back as you are five steps ahead to building your web app. If you need help with your application, contact Wolfmatrix for professional web app development services.
FAQs on How to Build a Simple Web Application
How to make a simple app for free?
You can make a simple web app for free by learning to do it yourself. There are hundreds of free resources and tutorials available online on basic knowledge of app development, programming, UI/UX design and many more.
How to make a simple iOS app?
You can make a simple ios app using code editor Xcode via a mac OS where you can write down the code. You will also need a User Interface (UI) to run the code.
How to make a simple iPhone app?
You will need a mac OS and code editor Xcode to build a simple iPhone app. A user interface (UI) is also needed to execute the program.
What is required to build a web application?
Can I make an app with no experience?
Yes, you can make an app with no experience! All you need to do is learn. Hundreds of free online platforms can guide you through building your web application.
Can a mobile app be a web app?
Yes, a mobile app can be designed to run on the web browser as a web application. Facebook, for example, can be downloaded and used as a mobile application, and it can be opened on the web browser as a web app.
Passionate engineer who loves talking about Machine learning and ways to improve Software development practices. CEO and Director of Software Engineering of Wolfmatrix.