Skip to main content

How to Build a Custom Web App for Your Website

It's hard to believe that it's been more than 30 years since the invention of the internet and the initial population of websites on the world wide web that followed. These innovations ushered in a technological revolution, permanently changing the way individuals and businesses exchange information and facilitate transactions. However, it wasn't until 2005 that website applications, or web apps, became regular use.

Web applications are essentially interactive computer programs that create functional features within a website, such as online forms, email, and shopping carts. Web apps can be incredibly useful in increasing website efficiency, improving business functions, and creating useful integrations. Web apps can even help to impact search rankings and conversion rates. Moreover, it's surprisingly easy to build a web app and customize its functionality. If you are interested in improving your website, consider this advice on building a custom web app for your website.

What is a Website Application?

A website application, or web app, is essentially a self-contained interactive computer program designed to perform specific tasks within a website, such as sending emails, editing photos, and sharing files. Web apps are stored on a remote server, rather than within the device, and are only accessible using a web browser.

In recent years, advancements in computer and internet technologies have led to a spike in demand for customized web apps. These apps are typically built from scratch and serve a purpose unique to the website of the individual or organization. Surprisingly, the steps to build a web application are relatively simple, even if you have no experience in coding or programming, and it can be well worth the effort.

Types of Web Applications

Static Web Apps

Static web apps are the most rudimentary of all web applications. They are built using HTML, CSS, and sometimes JavaScript. Because of this, they offer little to no flexibility. It is possible to include animated gifs and videos on static web apps, but unfortunately, these apps can be more difficult to update. Examples of static web apps include landing pages and digital resumes.

Dynamic Web Apps

Dynamic web apps instantaneously fetch data the moment the user initiates a request. Unlike static web applications, dynamic apps utilize a database to store and organize data. In addition, dynamic web applications are more sophisticated than static apps, allowing for multiple interactive elements. This level of interaction helps keep users engaged in the services offered through the app. Examples of dynamic web apps include eCommerce sites, Twitter, and online calendars.

Portal Web Apps

Portal web apps create an entry point, or portal, that allows access to an individual's information. These entry points are commonly known as login areas on websites. Portal web applications work best for businesses that want to direct users to an individualized home page. These applications work in tandem with a database that stores information on each user. Examples of portal web apps include patient portals, student and faculty portals, and vendor portals.

Ecommerce Web Apps

Ecommerce web apps aid businesses that sell products through an online store. These apps help add, remove, and track inventory, as well as facilitate and process payments. Ecommerce websites usually require a sophisticated management panel that works in unison with the installed eCommerce web apps. Examples of e-commerce web apps include Jumia, Alibaba, and Flipkart.

Content Management System (CMS) Web Apps

CMS Web Apps are extremely popular because they allow website owners to modify content without relying on a technical support team. CMS apps provide a user-friendly interface that can be easily navigated and changed without programming knowledge. There are numerous CMS web apps on the market, and they vary in the type of features they offer. However, they all have the same primary goal: to help you manage content on your website. Examples of content management system web apps include Umbraco, WordPress, and Sitecore.

Benefits of Custom Web Applications

Building a custom web app has numerous advantages, the foremost of which is the ability to make your website unique. If you are a frequent web user, chances are you have noticed that most websites look nearly identical, resulting from the overuse of web design templates. By learning how to make an app website and build a custom app, you will give your site a fresh experience, which will go a long way in differentiating it from your competitors.

Knowing how to build a website app also creates opportunities for SEO optimization. For example, when developing a web application, you can ensure that your website's structure is SEO-friendly. You can then top off the structure with keyword-rich texts, and together, they will give your website a chance to rank higher in search rankings.

User experience plays a significant role in the success of a website. If a site is tedious or difficult to navigate, it will decrease the overall conversion rate. Therefore, when planning a web application, you have the opportunity to address any concerns that you may have regarding the customer's journey by adding functionality.

Marcel Digital's Web Application Development Process

We at Marcel Digital understand that custom-built web applications are vital in ensuring the success of your website, and therefore we take the web application development process very seriously. We work closely with our clients throughout each phase of the development process, from designing a web application to launching the application, so you can be assured that the web app will satisfy the functional requirements for your website.

Our web application process involves the following steps:

Sourcing an Idea and Researching the Target Market

Communication is a key component in the development process, particularly during the sourcing and researching stage. When you come to us with a concept for an app, we will help determine its viability and what it will take to turn the concept into a workable product. Furthermore, we can assist in researching the target market by analyzing data provided by Google and other external sources. Understanding the target market plays a significant role in establishing the app's features.

Planning the Features and Functionality of the Web App

Once the target market has been established, we can move forward in planning the features and functionality of the app, as these concepts will determine the design of the app's user interface. The app must provide the necessary functions while at the same time being efficient and easy to use. Finally, we will examine similar apps and those of your competitors, noting the areas we can improve on.

Designing UI & UX

As mentioned, visitors to your website must find the web app easy to use. After all, the app's purpose is to streamline the task it's performing. Therefore, during the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design phase, we will map out the customer's journey or the path users follow when navigating the associated website. This method focuses on the customers and their habits, which will then dictate the design of the user interface.

With the customer's journey thoroughly analyzed, we can wireframe the app. A wireframe is a visual layout of the elements that will make up the app's front-end and back-end structure. After the wireframe is completed and approved, we can design an artistic mockup that incorporates all the elements, such as buttons, icons, screen sizes, and the color scheme used for the app.

Developing the Web Application

Once we have reached the development stage, the real excitement begins. Our highly experienced web app developers will start building the front and back-end components of the web app and create a database to manage the necessary files. The developers will also integrate APIs, facilitating communication between the server-side and client-side languages.

The final phase of the development process is critical: testing the app for bugs and malfunctions. Together with the development team, we will go through all the motions required to utilize the app, monitoring each step carefully to ensure that it functions seamlessly. If there are any issues, we will address them and retest the app until it functions without error.

Ready, Set, Launch!

At last, it's time to officially launch the app and get it in front of real-world users. After the app is up-and-running, we will continue monitoring its functioning and the effect that it is having on your website. We can run post-app analytics and compare them with the pre-app data, as this will indicate how efficient and effective the app is in increasing your website's conversion rates. Chat with a Web Development Specialist today to learn more!

Marcel Digital's Web Application Success Stories

At Marcel Digital, we value our customers above all else, and nothing makes us happier than knowing that our services have helped further their business goals. Over the years, we have had the honor of aiding dozens of companies and have put together a collection of their web development and web application success stories.

For instance, Marcel Digital was contacted by Kellogg's to address issues involving their employee portal web application. During the analysis phase, we determined several problem areas that were causing a delay in processing technical requests by employees. We remedied these issues by creating an easy-to-use employee portal where technical requests could be created and managed, and the results were amazing! Kellogg's noted a 57% decrease in support phone calls and a 75% decrease in support costs.

If you are interested in learning about similar success stories, then be sure to check out the case studies section on our website.

  • Web Design

  • Web Development

Alex Vilmur headshot

About the author

Alex Vilmur

Alex Vilmur is a wizard at development and also trumpet. He once auditioned for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, but found his passion for website development and Umbraco made it too hard to leave.