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6 tips for designing and developing powerful web apps

19th October 2020 Print

Web apps, which typically take on the form of software as a service (SaaS) delivered over the internet, have completely redefined the software industry over the past decade. This includes both consumer-grade software, as well as business applications. 

From a development side of things, the bar has been raised. You can no longer get away with web apps that are just okay. With as much competition as there is, you have to create something exceptional, frictionless, and useful. How you do that is up to you. But you’ll learn a lot by studying what others are already doing well and using their principles as models.  

Try These 6 Tips

As you seek to improve the usefulness, functionality, and simplicity of your web apps, consider the following principles:

1. Keep Track of Inspiration

Every web app developer should get in the habit of collecting examples of other projects that they like or admire. Some call this a swipe file, while others refer to it as an inspiration board. The lexicon isn’t important. What matters is that you have some system for tracking good examples of UI, websites, and apps so that you can tap them in times where inspiration is needed.

2. Begin With a Wireframe

No matter how many web security apps you’ve developed in the past, it’s always helpful to start the process with a wireframe. Simple wireframing lets you visualize the end product without getting caught up in all of the technical details and finicky adjustments that are required when actually coding the software. How you wireframe is up to you, but it’s highly suggested that you begin with this step.

3. Less is Always More

Speed and efficiency matter much more than having the most advanced or contemporary look. It doesn’t matter how advanced your application is today. Users will always want another feature. With this in mind, don’t try to implement every feature under the sun. Instead, focus on simplicity.

As counter intuitive as it may sound, you may need to disregard your customers’ requests and instead focus on what’s essential. (At least for now.) This will lead to a much more efficient end product - one that people enjoy using.

4. Invest in Proper Security

In today’s landscape, you need strong security. A failure to properly secure your apps could lead to both legal and financial issues (not to mention serious problems for your app’s reputation).

Be mindful of the platform you’re using and use solutions that are tailored to it. If you’re running AWS, for example, an AWS web security app is a must. (Amazon’s security products do not cover all web threats. You must supplement with the right third-party solution.)

5. Choose the Right Typography

It’s helpful to think with a mobile-first mentality. Responsiveness is a must and you should develop your web application in such a way that device/browser types become a moot point. This means hiding unnecessary elements, choosing easy-to-read typography, and spacing out buttons so they don’t fall victim to fat finger errors.

6. Go with an MVP...Then Iterate

You have to get over the notion that the first version of your web app has to be the best - because it certainly won’t be the last. Instead of trying to get it perfect, focus on keeping the first version as simple as possible. This means developing a minimum viable product (MVP) and iterating from there.

“Producing an MVP has many benefits, but the primary reason is to validate your web app idea as quickly and as cheaply as possible,” developer William Craig writes. “If you keep the web app to a very strict and defined set of core features, you can test out whether or not those core features are what your users need.”

An MVP allows you to launch, which permits you to gather feedback. Only then can you understand how people use the app. (This takes time, but it’s extremely efficient.)

Make Beautiful Things

It’s one thing to develop a useful app, but can you make it beautiful and aesthetically pleasing? Can you develop an app that’s so intuitive, someone can pick it up and use it right away without any prior experience? That’s the mark of a good web app developer. And if you implement the tips outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to reaching that level.