7-step web app development process you should follow

11 min read
July 4, 2024

So, you’re thinking about building a web app but don’t know how to do it?

That’s where we come in.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the 7 steps you should follow to build a successful web app.

We’ll also give you key tips for each step to make sure you do it right.

Let’s dive in!

What is a web app?

Let’s quickly cover the basics – what exactly is a web app?

A web app is an app that runs on a web server and can be accessed through a web browser.

Browser access is what separates them from mobile and desktop apps and it means they can be accessed from any device with an internet connection.

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But, you need to keep this in mind – web apps aren’t the same as websites.

Here’s how they’re different:

Web app vs website

The main difference between the two are their functionality and complexity.

Web apps are highly interactive and handle complex tasks and functions while websites are usually static and informational.

And a complex web app will have more in common with mobile and desktop apps than with a simple website.

Next, we’ll show you exactly how to build one.

Web app development process in 7 steps

Now, we’ll go through the 7-step web app development process in detail.

Research your market

You can’t build a successful web app without knowing your market and target audience.

And that’s where market research comes in.

Market research is all about validating your idea and getting to a product-market fit.

It will help you find gaps in the market and better position your product.

And that’s crucial because having no market need is one of the top reasons startups fail:

Top reasons why startups fail

But, if you thoroughly research and understand your market, you’ll get to a product-market fit and prevent that from happening to your web app.

If you want to learn more, we recently hosted Davor Culjak, co-founder of user research and design agency Resonate, on The Roadmap and discussed why product-market fit is so important:

In short, researching your market is the essential first step that will lay a strong foundation for the rest of your web app development process.

And that’s why you should never skip it.

Key tips for market research

  • Do competitive analysis – competitive analysis, i.e. analyzing your competitors and their products, is a key part of market research and will help you better position and differentiate your product
  • Identify user segments – you should break down your target audience into user segments for more targeted and specific insights and feedback
  • Engage directly with your target audience – make sure you get feedback from your web app’s target audience to validate your market research

Create a software requirements specification (SRS) document

Creating a software requirement specification (SRS) document is a non-negotiable step in the web app development process.

And there’s a very good reason for that.

Projects that have clear requirements before starting development are a staggering 97% more likely to succeed than projects that don’t.

But, what goes in an SRS document, anyway?

The SRS covers all the requirements for your web app – think of it like a blueprint for your web app.

Here are the elements a typical SRS document contains:

SRS document components

But, by far the 2 most important elements here are your app’s functional and non-functional requirements.

In simple terms, functional requirements cover what your app does while non-functional requirements cover how it does it.

Having both types of requirements laid out clearly will help you easily align your development team.

It will also help you avoid scope creep and act as a handy reference point during development.

And that’s why it’s so important.

Key tips for creating an SRS

  • Be clear and concise – your SRS document should written in simple, concise language to avoid misunderstandings down the line
  • Do a feasibility study – doing a feasibility study will ensure your requirements are realistic and can actually be made into a working web app
  • Use visual aids – visual aids like flowcharts and diagrams will help your whole team better understand complex requirements and processes

Design your web app’s UI

Your web app’s user interface (UI) design is one of its most important elements, if not the most important.

One of the reasons it’s important is because it reflects your brand, so create a logo and branding elements that will fit the UI carefully and make them memorable.

Also, a well-designed UI and a great user experience (UX) can mean the difference between success and failure.

And that’s not just idle talk.

94% of users’ first impressions of a website are design-related – the same logic applies to web apps and a bad design will drive users away.

So, it’s no surprise that for every $1 invested in UX design, you get $100 in return – that’s an incredible ROI of 9,900%!

UX ROI

So, what should your design process look like?

Here are the steps you should take:

We won’t get deeper into each step here, but we’ll leave you with this important tip – you should iterate based on user feedback after each step.

That’s the best way to create a web app that’s truly user-friendly and gives them a great experience.

And a great UX is key to its success.

Key tips for designing your web app’s UI

  • Create a design system – creating a design system, i.e. a collection of reusable components (typography, color schemes etc.), will ensure your web app has a consistent look and feel
  • Follow accessibility guidelines – make sure you follow the latest accessibility guidelines so that all users, including those with disabilities, can use it without friction
  • Do thorough UX research – UX research is the best way to create a user-friendly web app that actually meets their needs and can succeed in the market

Choose the right tech stack

Choosing the right tech stack is a crucial step in the web app development process.

And making the wrong choice can completely derail its development.

But, what exactly is a tech stack, anyway? And how do you pick the right one?

A tech stack is the set of tools and technologies your team uses to build your web app.

Here’s what a typical tech stack looks like:

Tech stack

To pick the right tech stack, you need to consider several factors, like:

  • Your web app’s requirements
  • Your team’s expertise
  • Scalability
  • Performance

For example, if you want to build a high-performance web app, your top choices should be frameworks like React and Angular (front-end) and Django and Node.js (back-end).

But, what’s even more important is choosing tools your team has experience with and has used before.

This will speed up development and get your web app to market faster.

And that’s exactly what you should be looking for.

Key tips for choosing the right web app tech stack

  • Pick tools and technologies your team is familiar with – using tools and technologies your team has already worked with will significantly speed up development 
  • Choose a scalable tech stack – the tech stack you choose should be scalable and easily handle an increase in data volumes and traffic as your web app grows
  • Pay attention to integration – make sure your tech stack can easily integrate with other systems and services like third-party APIs

Develop your web app’s front-end and back-end

This step is where everything comes together and your web app goes from idea to reality.

Here, your engineers will take your requirements and design and turn them into a functional and usable web app.

They’ll build your app’s front-end, back-end, and the APIs that connect them.

For reference, here’s the difference between the front-end and back-end:

Frontend vs backend

In the simplest terms, the front-end is the part of your web app that users can see and interact with while the back-end is the part they can’t see.

The front-end is crucial for your web app’s UX, while the back-end is key for good performance and scalability.

And you need both to work well together if you want a successful web app.

Key tips for developing your web app’s front-end and back-end

  • Use Agile methodologies – Agile development methodologies like Scrum or Kanban will both speed up development and improve the quality of your product
  • Do regular code reviews – regular code reviews are a great way to maintain high code quality standards and continuously improve your web app
  • Build a CI/CD pipeline – building a CI/CD pipeline will help you make future updates faster and more reliable

Thoroughly test your web app

Excellent quality should be non-negotiable.

And the best way to get there is to thoroughly test your web app before launch.

This will save you a lot of time and money, too.

Here’s an (almost) unbelievable statistic:

Poor software quality costs U.S. companies $2.42 trillion annually.

Having strict quality assurance (QA) and testing protocols will help you avoid becoming a part of that statistic.

Also, you’ll save a lot of money if you start testing early.

Fixing bugs and defects after launch can be up to 100x more expensive than fixing them at the start of the development cycle:

Cost of bugs

So, you should integrate QA from the start – but, you need a detailed testing strategy, too.

This will help your QA engineers better plan tests and help them choose the right testing methods.

And that’s key if you want a bug-free app.

Key tips for testing your web app

  • Use both manual and automated testing – you should use both manual and automated testing methods to ensure full test coverage
  • Monitor and test APIs – doing API testing will make sure the APIs your web app uses are reliable, bug-free, and perform well
  • Test on real devices – testing on real devices will ensure your web app is compatible with different devices and browsers

Launch your web app

Once you’ve made sure it’s bug-free, all that’s left to do is to launch your web app.

This is a make-or-break moment for your app and you need to do it right – you only get one shot at this.

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So, how do you prepare your web app for launch?

First, you need to choose the right hosting platform.

If you don’t expect high traffic volumes you can go with traditional hosting services, but your best bet is going with cloud computing services like:

They make scaling much faster and easier, so they’re the best fit for modern web apps.

Next, you need a detailed launch plan and strategy.

And this also means choosing between doing a hard launch or a soft launch:

Product launch

A hard launch is a good choice if you’ve thoroughly validated your idea and you’re confident your app is stable and ready for a wide audience.

On the other hand, a soft launch is the better choice if you need more data and you prefer iterative development and improvement.

Ultimately, your choice will come down to your specific needs and the situation in your target market.

Key tips for launching your web app

  • Set up customer support channels – you should have a customer support system in place before you launch your web app so you can quickly solve any issues they run into
  • Build a community – building a community through forums, social media, or email marketing will help you generate interest and get early users more easily
  • Set up tutorials and product demos – tutorials and product demos are will help your users learn how your web app works and they’re essential, especially if you have a complex product

Web app development process: FAQs

Your choice of programming language for your web app depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • Compatibility with your requirements
  • Your team’s expertise
  • Scalability of the language

But, the most important factor is your team’s expertise – choosing a language they’re already familiar with will significantly speed up development.

There’s no simple answer to this question.

The cost of your web app’s development can vary wildly, depending on:

  • The type of web app you’re building
  • The team building the app
  • Its complexity
  • Updating and maintenance costs

But, on average, here’s how much web app development usually costs:

  • Simple web apps – $20,000-$50,000
  • Medium-complexity web apps – $50,000-$90,000
  • Complex web apps – $100,000+

Luckily, there are ways you can cut these numbers – we’ve covered 6 different ways to reduce web app development costs.

The time it takes to develop a web app from start to finish mostly depends on its complexity.

Other factors like team size and team expertise also impact development time so it isn’t easy to pin down.

But, we can give a broad range:

  • Simple web apps – web apps with basic functionalities and limited features, 2-4 months
  • Medium-complexity web apps – web apps with more features and API integrations, 4-6 months
  • Complex web apps – web apps with advanced features and custom functionalities, 6-12+ months

Need help building your web app?

Do you have a great web app idea but don’t have the team to build it?

You’re in the right place.

We can help you build your web app from the ground up, from validating your idea all the way to launch and post-launch maintenance.

If you want to learn more, feel free to reach out and we’ll set up a quick call to see how we can help make your idea a reality.

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Written by

Tarek Saghir

JS Team Lead

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