Web Application Architecture: Choosing the Best Option for Your Project
It's hard to imagine today's world without the internet. Millions of people use it every day. The web pages on the internet today are no longer static; they have become more engaging, functional, and visually appealing. Modern web applications are very similar to desktop applications, the only difference is that they operate on the internet.
Before opting for web application development services or starting to build your own, it is essential to choose the most suitable web application structure. In this article, we will have a closer look at web application architecture, its types, layers, and components. Plus, we'll discuss the latest trends in web app development.
What Is Web Application Architecture?
Web application architecture describes the interaction between applications, middleware systems, and databases on the internet so that they all can work together.
For example, when a user types in a URL and clicks 'enter', the browser requests a particular web page from the server. Then the server finds the necessary files and sends them over to the browser. After that, the browser executes the received files and displays the page to the user. Finally, the user is able to interact with the website. All of these actions happen in seconds. The most important part here is that the code is parsed by the browser.
Custom web applications work similarly. The main aim of web application architecture is to carry out the user's requests in an efficient way. Due to the wide usage of the internet, almost all applications and gadgets use web-based communication. That is why web app architecture is essential in the modern world.
Notably, the web application structure influences not only the efficiency but also the reliability, scalability, and security of any app. This is why it is an important thing to consider during the project discovery phase.
How Does System Architecture for Web Application Work?
Any typical web application consists of client-side code and server-side code. The client-side code is the code in the browser that responds to user requests. And the server-side code is situated on the server and responds to HTTP requests.
The client-side code is also known as the front-end. It is the part of the website that the user can see and interact with, and the code responds to the user's actions on the website. This part uses the following languages:
The server-side or back-end part of the website receives the user's data and processes it. The server-side code involves drawing up the page the user requested, data storage, and other tasks. The server-side code is the part not visible to the user. The back-end part has a different tech stack and requires using such languages as:
- Ruby, etc.
Web Application Architecture Layers
Today modern web applications have a layered structure. Usually, there are four layers, though small apps can sometimes have three, and the complex ones up to six.
- Presentation layer
It enables the communication between the interface and the browser to facilitate user interaction.
- Business layer
This layer defines business logic and rules. It is responsible for proper data exchange between the front-end and back-end.
- Data access layer
This layer is responsible for data persistence and offers access to data storage.
- Data service layer
The database layer stores all the data and makes sure that it is secure. It is also responsible for transmitting data.
Web Application Architecture Components
Web application architecture components can be divided into two groups: user interface components and structural components.
- User interface components
Represent the visual interface of a web application. They include activity logs, configurations and settings, dashboards, widgets, notifications, and all the things that help make the user experience better.
- Structural components
Models of Web Application Components
There are three different models of web application components, depending on the number of servers and databases they use.
- One web server, one database
This is the simplest web application component model. This model uses one server and one database. If the server goes down, the application built on this model will stop working as well. That is why this method is less reliable and is used mainly for test projects.
- Multiple web servers, one database
This model requires at least two web servers in order to avoid failure. If one of the servers goes down, the other will be able to take over the workflow. All the requests will be automatically redirected to the remaining server, and the web app will continue working. This model is more reliable than the first one, though in case the database crashes, the app will inevitably fail as well.
- Multiple web servers, multiple databases
This model uses several web servers and several databases, which makes it the most stable of the three. Both the servers and the databases have a replacement, so if one of them breaks down, the whole web solution will still be working.
Types of Web App Architecture
The web application's architecture is the way its components interact with each other. The type of modern web application architecture depends on the application logic on the client and server sides. There are several main types of web app architecture, which is usually chosen by your hired CTO early on.
1. Single-Page Applications (SPAs)
Single-page applications allow updating content on the same page instead of loading new pages for each user action. They work without interruptions in the user experience, resembling traditional desktop applications. SPAs request the most necessary content and information elements from the server to provide a seamless and intuitive user experience. Some of the single-page web applications include:
2. Multi-Page Applications (MPAs)
Multi-page apps reload a new web page at each user's request. This solution is mainly used for larger web applications. A few of the examples:
Microservices are small services that fulfill a single function. A traditional monolithic app consists of a client side, a server side, and a database. The back-end and front-end logic are generated into a single codebase. So, to edit or update any app component, the developers need to edit the whole application. And microservices, on the other hand, consist of a set of small services that are built and deployed separately. This approach can be handy for complex applications, marketplace development, building social network solutions, etc. Many eCommerce businesses also use ecommerce microservices architecture, as it allows them to create scalable and modular systems that can easily adapt to the changing demands of the market. Some of the widely popular microservices include:
4. Serverless Architectures
This type of web application structure uses cloud infrastructure from third-party providers. Cloud providers like Amazon and Google offer virtual servers that can dynamically allocate machine resources. If there is a significant growth of traffic your servers are not ready for, your app still won't be down. This approach is a good idea if the company doesn't want to bother with managing and supporting servers and the hardware they require.
5. Progressive Web Applications
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) offer rich and native functionality, reliability, and easy installation. They are compatible with any browser and can work on different kinds of devices, which is one of the factors for comparing a mobile app vs mobile website. Such web applications are designed to act like native apps on mobile devices. They offer push notifications, offline access, and the possibility to install the app on your device. A few examples of PWAs:
Web Application Architecture Best Practices and Trends in 2023 and Beyond
In order to create a successful web application, it is important to take into account the latest web app development trends and web application architecture best practices.
- Progressive Web Applications
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are represented by websites that have features that were present only on desktop apps before, like offline access and push notifications. PWAs are more user-friendly and easier to maintain. Also, they have higher security standards, are more flexible and cost-effective, and allow SEO promotion.
- Cloud Migration
This approach allows to separate the data – it can be maintained and managed by a cloud service and a local server. This means that these solutions are more secure and reliable.
- Artificial Intelligence and Bots
Apps based on artificial intelligence (AI) are able to self-learn and extend their databases to fulfill their tasks more effectively. There are plenty of AI product ideas out there, and such applications can be helpful for virtual assistance and enhancing the user experience.
- Voice Search
Voice search is becoming more convenient and less time-consuming than typing, so web applications with this option are getting more and more popular. Voice search can become a vital part of almost any web app in the nearest future.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of Things is a system of interconnected smart devices that need less or no user actions to operate together effectively. Forecasts suggest that by 2025 there will be more than 75 billion connected IoT devices in use. That is why there is going to be a growing demand for such technologies over the next few years.
Web Application Architecture Requirements
A quality web application can make the development process faster and more efficient. There are some essential factors that contribute to a web app's quality:
It is crucial to consider the possible scaling options if there is a need for a more complex application.
Efficient web-based applications evaluate the actual and projective speed of an application and the possibilities for its optimization.
The chosen architecture should provide an approach for solving the development problems, and you should pick a solution that covers your development goals in the best way.
Whenever possible, it is best to create an app with a minimalistic structure and to choose the simplest options possible.
- Reusable components
Code reusability means that it is possible to use the ready code for creating new applications based on the existing sample.
- Clear and well-structured code
The code should be clear and readable for other members of the team in order to be efficient and operate correctly.
- Fast response time
It is a good idea to have a look at some of the best web apps of your competitors, their page speed and responsiveness, to see what standards your product should follow.
How to Choose the Most Suitable Web Application Architecture
Choosing a suitable system architecture is the foundation of the development of the application as a whole. That is why it is crucial to consider all the development processes and the possibility of future expansion before making a decision. So, it is a good idea to do some research beforehand or turn to an outsourced CTO for a consultation to ensure that the chosen way to architect a web application is the right one for your needs.
- Multi-page applications are a good option if your app contains a lot of content. It is suitable if you want to build a marketplace, for online stores, company websites, online catalogs, etc.
- Single-page applications work well for dynamic applications with small amounts of data.
- Microservices are an excellent option for large and complex projects because each of the services can be updated and modified separately without affecting the whole application. For example, if you need to update the payment logic, you won't have to shut down the entire website to do so.
- Serverless architecture is the best choice if you don't want to support and maintain the servers and hardware necessary for the application.
- Progressive web applications can be a good alternative to a mobile app. This type of architecture can be helpful for services used on a regular basis, like food deliveries, beauty salons, cleaning companies, or online stores. Also, this would be a good option for online media.
Web application architecture is the foundation of the development of the app itself. Application architecture determines how the solution will be developed, the interactions between its elements and functionality. This means that it is crucial to consider the characteristics of each type of modern web application architecture and choose the one that fits your aims and requirements in the best way possible.
Not sure which web application structure is the best for your project? Contact our experts, and they will help you find the right solution. And if you need a hand with development, Upsilon provides services for early-stage startups and team augmentation for growing businesses, plus our sprint-based pricing allows for flexibility. So, don't be shy to reach out for a consultation!