Web applications typically leverage web technology and use web browsers to perform tasks online. Instant messaging services, online auctions and retail sales, wikis and webmail are all different types of web applications. Today there are millions of such apps running online, as businesses strive to establish a strong online presence. However, the path is not strewn with roses – there are problems. Let’s take a look at the most common issues faced by developers.
Today the web is a different place – thanks to the existence of Smartphones and more discerning customers. Today’s customer demands more user-friendly web experiences, whether it’s for sites or apps; additionally, all apps and sites need to be responsive, so that the user has a great viewing experience regardless of the device they use to browse. The web app has to be unambiguous and simple to navigate, so that the visitor can find what they are looking for without any hassle. A simple, flawless user experience is the most important goal that you need to achieve.
Performance is mainly determined by the speed of the website or app – not only does the initial loading have to be fast, whatever processes happen, also need to happen quickly – like form submission, checking out shopping carts, displaying products when a user searches, and so on. Today’s customer is not going to wait for ages for stuff to happen; they will simply abandon your app and move on to another one that doesn’t make them wait. Performance problems are usually caused by traffic spikes, poor coding, third-party services that are not up to the mark, unmanaged data growth, non-optimization of databases, improper distribution of load, and so on. One way to overcome these issues is by using a content distribution network, which is a distributed network of proxy servers set up across several data centres, rather than a single web server. A CDN will ensure that requests to servers are routed to several servers, so that traffic is balanced, and requests will be attended to and executed swiftly.
Your web application needs to be scalable, so that when there is more traffic, you can add more servers to balance the load. Scalability is a golden word in IT. Everything you design and develop should be capable of expanding to meet the growing needs of your business. The software needs to be designed so that it is capable of working on a team of servers, rather than just a single one. Service oriented architecture or SOA, being flexible, helps in providing scalable solutions. In the SOA design, the components of the application deliver services to other components through the communication protocol.
Knowledge of Framework and Platforms
Frameworks help provide better performance and provide libraries for coding and enhancing capabilities, APIs, code snippets, models and so on, relieving developers from hand coding web apps from scratch, and helping boost performance. All you’ve to ensure is that you’re choosing any of the as they’d be already equipped with all the latest security, scalability and other important aspects . Some frameworks are more flexible than others; through external APIs, additional functionality can be included in the application. It is crucial that both developers and business owners or management be very clear about what they want the website to achieve. If you’re looking to just mark your presence online and spread awareness, a WordPress or Joomla platform would be ideal; however, if you plan to sell online, you need an ecommerce platform like Magento, CS Cart, OpenCart, Prestashop etc or a hosted solutions like Shopify, Bigcommerce etc. You also need to consider factors like pricing, analytics, level of customization you need and what’s available, technical skill required to develop, and so on, before choosing a platform.
Though security should be afforded the utmost importance, unfortunately, it is often forgotten in the larger scheme of things, mainly design and UX. This is another challenge that is all too common when developing web apps. Often, sensitive financial information of visitors is dealt with, especially during sale of products and payment. User data security, malfunctioning of databases, denial of service attacks, and unauthorized access to restricted sections of the website are some of the most important things you have to think about. Typical security threats include phishing, hijacking sessions, buffer overflow, cross-site scripting or request forgery, and so on. You need to ensure that the code takes care of all these security issues.
The integration challenge
Business applications are very different now from when they first appeared. For example, today an app may be hosted on the cloud, use in-house intelligence tools, and a SaaS based CRM. The cool fact about this is it gives you immense flexibility, but also poses a perplexing challenge. How do you integrate everything together; today’s challenge for developers is building an app that can integrate with other apps rather than putting everything inside an app. So the available of facilities like cloud hosting is both a blessing and a curse: there is no need to build elements like analytics, subscription payments, mail or storage, but you need to integrate with cloud services that provide these services. For every integration point, you need to learn the coding, testing, API and logging for troubleshooting any problems. Most businesses avail multiple systems that are hosted in the cloud, and the developer has to ensure integration with CRM solutions and every product that is specific to the particular industry.
For any business today, mobile is as important (or in most cases, even more) as the web. Ignoring the relevance of mobile at first, could turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes in shaping up and scaling of any application development. If the scope and importance of mobile is not properly perceived initially, it would even affect the stability of the application as the technology too has to be picked based on these usages. Technology has to defined based on its merit and the mobile app needs to be visualized by also considering the , so the application stays robust and scalable. The decision to whether go with a native application or a hybrid application also depends on these factors.
The over-saturation challenge
Today, with every business big and small, wanting to get on the app bandwagon, there are tens of thousands of developers who are fighting for a slice of the market pie. The web is literally overflowing with apps – and very few of them are actually a financial success. Users are living it up, with multiple choices for every single type of service or product. In this era of over-saturation, developers have it doubly tough, as they have to make their app stand out in the sea of apps.
Ignoring Quality Control
This is a hidden challenge actually. More often than not, developers are under immense pressure to deliver magic in a very short time; and to comply with that, they may overlook the best practices and code review, and resort to quick-fix measures. However, in the long run, this can lead to the app not performing as well as it should.
The right team
It may seem unimportant, but believe me, it is vital that you have the perfect team working on any web application project. An ideal team will have professionals with varying expertise so that every aspect of the app development project can be taken care of. Sounds obvious, huh? Well, it is easy to say, but extremely difficult to achieve in reality.
This is not to say that web app development is past its prime; on the contrary, it is very much a game changer for many businesses. But yes – it has definitely become more challenging for developers as they have to tackle all these challenges and deliver an app that pleases, builds customer loyalty, is technically sound, and above all – performs the way it is supposed to.