Web App Development for the Modern Web

Whether their goals are to shorten development cycles or simply reach as many users on as many devices as possible, more companies are relying on the web as a platform for deploying their most visible and mission-critical applications. WillowTree’s web application development team has a deep and broad understanding of the newest and best tools to help you deliver first-class web experiences to your users.

What’s Changed?

The modern web isn’t just for static websites and content consumption. It’s the most open, flexible, and immediately accessible application runtime available today, both via mobile and desktop browsers. Modern web applications use architectures that make them more like their native app counterparts on iOS and Android than apps of the web’s old guard. Business logic, instead of living on the server, now resides primarily in the
browser. This change results in:

  • Reuse of back-end systems and APIs across native and web platforms
  • Faster development timelines
  • Reductions in build and maintenance costs
  • Increased flexibility
  • Advanced user experiences (UX)

Over the past five years, the tools available to developers to help build these kinds of applications have proliferated and matured.

Our Web Applications team has deep experience with Backbone.js, a lightweight framework that we still use whenever its particular strengths are a good fit for the project at hand. We’ve launched dozens of apps that use Backbone, from high-profile media streaming applications to sophisticated HTML5 games.

The Next Generation

In 2013, Facebook announced ReactJS, a front-end web framework that radically reimagined how web apps can be built. In
particular, React helps optimize for:

  • Performance: Users get smoother scrolling, faster response times, and less “jank”.
  • Reusability: Developers get a clear way to reuse code intelligently – and, as a result, our clients get features built faster for less money.

Our Web Apps developers are experts in bringing React’s considerable strengths to bear for our clients. Our experiences deploying large-scale React applications and developing a shared and battle-tested toolkit of components have positioned us as thought leaders in the space. We’re continuing to innovate with new ways of using the game-changing set of tools that have grown up around React, including pioneering development work on React Native.

Identifying the Best Web App Development Company

The key to finding a good web app development company is paying attention to the details. Start with a strong portfolio and user-facing capabilities, of course. But much of modern web development is hidden from plain view. Poor software is the outcome of lots of cut corners along the way; a great team ensures every application is highly performant, maintainable, and is measured against key metrics of software quality.

The best teams:

  • Don’t work in a vacuum. When building great software, integration between web development teams and their UX/Design and QA/Testing counterparts is critical. Quick, iterative feedback loops help keep products on time and on budget. Just having the right processes – daily stand-ups, regular implementation reviews, etc. – is important, but so is having the infrastructure in place to support this kind of collaboration.
  • Understand UX is a top priority. Apps that excite and engage users are responsive, intuitive, and focus on features that are immediately indispensable. The best agencies take both a quantitative and qualitative approach to assessing how well an app is doing. Whether measuring frames-per-second in a scrolling list view in the Chrome developer tools or conducting in-person usability testing sessions, assessments should be based on real data and the experiences of people most likely to use your app.
  • Take security seriously from day one. Put simply, security cannot be an afterthought. Modern web applications do more in a user’s browser than they ever have before, and it’s important to know where common pitfalls lie. Using SSL encrypted connections wherever sensitive user data is involved, implementing cautious caching schemes, and making use of standard and battle-hardened authentication schemes like OAuth – all of these can play an important role in ensuring your app stands up to the worst the world can throw at it.
  • Work efficiently even when writing highly-customized apps. A great team knows how to balance the adoption of bleeding edge tech with the benefits of knowing how to wield a small set of tools efficiently. Shared libraries can be built to abstract out logic common to nearly every app; WillowTree’s react-formable, a library that provides an easy interface for collecting and validating user input, is an excellent example. And leaning on modern third-party tools like webpack for script bundling and Gulp for managing your application’s build pipeline lets developers focus on writing killer features instead of preparing the next release by hand.