7 Golden Rules of Modern Web Application Development
There are lots of things to keep in mind when considering what makes a productive developer. Contrary to popular belief, speed of development doesn’t always guarantee a quality result. In order to develop a truly quality application, we believe there are 7 key principles to keep in mind.
Principle 1: The User Comes First
If you take nothing else out of this article, let this rule be the one you remember. Over the past decades, especially the past few years, the Internet has been evolving. New devices have come out and been completely remodeled; tools and methodologies have been introduced and expanded upon. However, the driving force for all of this improvement is and has always been the user. The marketing has to be targeted towards a specific audience. The website has to be easy for the general public to navigate. The terms have to be clear and easy to understand. The details are endless. Sadly, if even one or two things slip through the cracks, the user experience can be made unnecessarily difficult, hard to understand, or just plain unpleasant.
“The principles remain the same as they always have, though some may not realise or practice it,” says Andrew Johns, Founder of Larkswood Digital.“The web should be accessible to all people on all devices, just as it was originally meant to be. Everything else should be layered, progressively, to improve the usability and user experience. The user should come first and not at the expense of chasing the latest and greatest technological advances.”
Principle 2: Security is not a Feature!
Did you know that hackers prefer to attack business’ web applications out of all their online assets?
It’s an unfortunate reality that most web-based applications seriously lack dependable security. User authentication, confidentiality, and access control are all imperative to keep track of. It’s common for web applications to be plagued with popular malware and misuse such SQL injections and cross-site scripting. These threats are preventable – why does this keep happening?
The short answer is that many application developers take a laissez-faire approach to app security. Developers must have a more serious attitude about security and not treat it like a bonus feature that can be quickly added on at the end. Security factors should be built into the application from its conception.
Principle 3: Tools, Tools, Tools
“Use modern tools available to you,” says Marc Weiner, Founder of Ciro. “These include, but are not limited to GitHub, smart IDEs, build tools, and cloud computing. Gone of the days where programmers think they’re too good to use these ubiquitous and well-designed tools and services. They are now a quintessential part of a web developer’s setup.”
Principle 4: The Multi-Screen World
If you ask the average smartphone user, they’re likely to tell you that they prefer using apps optimized for smartphones rather than a brand or company’s mobile website. Mobile digital marketing is almost always more successful in the app sphere than mobile Internet pages. You’ve probably heard brands boast about their “new mobile-friendly design!” and still been disappointed by the awkward formatting, long lag time, and more.
That being sad, as the world continues to evolve people are on the go now more than ever. It’s not enough to market towards a desktop-based audience, and it’s no longer safe to assume that consumers are only accessing the Internet through a PC. In order to be taken seriously, your web applications be better optimized to work on every screen size out there – phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.
“Assume that your web application will be used across a number of different types of devices and screen sizes,” says John Turner, CEO and Founder of UsersThink. “It used to be that you could assume that a user was getting to your web app from either a desktop or laptop computer, which had a mouse or trackpad, and you could assume at least a 13′ monitor. But those days are long gone, and all varieties of device size and types will be used to access your web app. Because of this, you need to make sure your web app can adjust to a number of different types of devices, and while you can’t assume what’s next, this flexibility of mindset will help you whenever you have a new consideration to take into account.”
Principle 5: The Need for Speed
There are a few different reasons applications are expected to work at lightning speed. First, from an interesting social and scientific standpoint, studies have shown that humans have shorter attention spans than the average goldfish. To be clear, human attention spans have decreased a whole 4 seconds over the past 13 years! Unfortunately, this decreasing attention span coincides with a period of rapidly increasing data input. Modern applications and programs must arm themselves with the ability to store and process more data from multiple sources or risk slower application run time, which will turn away prospective users.
Next, it’s known that slower-running pages generally rank lower in search engine result pages. It’s just a fact by now that fast page speed is a good business move. With Google’s AMP project, there’s pressure on developers to make sure their pages load quickly.
Principle 6: Don’t Underestimate Architecture
Harkening back to principle 1, one of the most important and dependable ways to optimize user experience is to have a clear, neat, easy-to-navigate format on your website or application. Well-designed applications that are easy to use across age groups are considered standard, not exceptional, and anything less won’t get any attention. Good website architecture will create a better foundation for security, flexibility, maintenance, scalability, and more. The database design might take longer, but it’s more than a worthy investment of your time.
Principle 7: Everything Has its Place
Developers used to use a monolithic approach and build every single feature directly and equally into their application. But these days, micro-services have become the preferred method for software development. As noted here, “the micro-service architectural style is an approach to developing a single application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API.”
To reiterate, micro-service creates apps from multiple, smaller services. Then it’s combined with REST APIs to allow the services to communicate with each other, resulting in a much more organized application.