11 smart tips for web app development in 2015

Expand your user base and boost customer satisfaction with these 11 web app building tips:

Focus on the user experience design.
Today, you can tap into decades of accumulated knowledge on how to create the best user experience. Learn from strategies utilized by top sites like Amazon and SalesForce. The design behind their layouts and the software that runs within offer a great stepping stone from which to build your own unique portal. Why re-invent the wheel when it’s not necessary?

Expand on this foundation by adding third-party cloud services, assembling a system as a collaboration of in-house-developed and cloud-based functions. This will reduce operating and development expenses, allowing you to deliver products faster. Some specific ideas to help improve the user experience include:

  • Make every digital function the user engages in an effortless task. If they step away from their cart, make sure that when they return, they can pick up from where they left off.
  • Provide superior user support by using a cloud-based service like Zendesk, Zoho, or Kana support.
  • Create seamless login functionality by supporting logins through social media outlets. Users should not need yet another user id and password to remember.
  • Offer two-factor authentication to protect users from stolen passwords.
  • Take advantage of open source code when you can. Amazon offers a multitude of APIs and snippets of code that are free for the taking. Why rewrite when it’s available for use?
  • PayPal and Netflix also offer open source code that works with cloud services. They also offer the added bonus of accepting payments and streaming optimized video, two things you will want to take advantage of
  • Expand market base by accepting new forms of payment like Apple Pay.
  • Use in-page analytics to track user movements. This will help you determine activity levels on each function, which functions are working and which need improvement. Examples include Foresee, SAS, and Kana.
  • Ensure your content is king by hiring an experienced professional who knows proper English. Anyone can write content, but it takes the right person to write it well.
  • Let a third-party take a stab at your site. Letting a fresh set of eyes test out your site will give you the insight you may miss in term of usability, functionality, and overall success in customer experience.

Custom Responsive design is critical
Whether your customers are consumers in the general marketplace or employees in a workplace, you need a design model that accommodates changes easily and responds to shifting business requirements quickly. Most companies have recognized this and rely on Agile and Scrum and other nimble project management methodologies. This approach delivers new functionality faster and easier by dividing the work into smaller chunks. Rewards are reaped sooner with new features and fixes that are released in a continuous stream.

Move software to the cloud
This one is a no-brainer. Anyone who is not already using the cloud will have a tough time explaining that to their CEO or CIO. You cannot purchase storage cheaper than Amazon S3 can provide it. Virtualization has made it unnecessary to buy your own hardware. The dangers of denial of service and the need for redundant data centers have created a market for companies like Dyn.com.

Plan for solution scalability
The cloud and the cloud billing model provides the ability to scale up quickly and at a reduced cost. Whether you need more web, messaging, application, video optimization, or database servers, hypervisor tools provided by cloud vendors make this easier.

That said, you still need a plan for solution scalability. Your plan should measure end-user application performance, setting thresholds to determine when to scale up or down. Use analytics and basic statistics to calculate thresholds instead of using empirical evidence or experience, as many people do, which is no better than guessing. Only statistics can tell when an event is considered significant.

Expose your data APIs
As we pointed out above, the wide adoption of the cloud and use of cloud-based APIs have emphasized the need for software exposed as a service (SaaS). Anyone who has worked with object databases and Amazon S3 knows that some platforms are service-oriented. REST has made building this easier.

Exposing data APIs is helpful in many ways:

  • Easier transitions between cloud vendors and database types (e.g., Oracle to MongoDB)
  • Faster mobile development by leveraging web application components
  • Increased possibilities for future apps with the Internet of Things
  • Innovative ways to engage with customers and vendors

Secure your application
The world’s largest banks, the military, and governments are hacked seemingly every day. This means no system is 100% secure. So the best defense is to assume that you have already been hacked and work from that vantage point. Then:

  • Secure a strategic forensics partner to step in and help when customer or company data is compromised.
  • Keep a communication plan to alert customers during worst scenario.
  • Employ two-factor authentication.

Single-page apps for performance
If users are geographically dispersed, use a content distribution network, like Akamai, to cache static data at strategically placed remote locations to reduce latency. Speed up your app by making it single-page instead of many. A page driven by JavaScript and the MEAN Express MVC will work faster than something written in Struts.

Componetize everything
Architects have pushed the message of component architecture since Bell Labs invented C++. The ideas are the same even if the technology has changed. Java allows for interfaces so that, for example, a “ball” could be a “basketball” or “football” but newer tools like Node.js make such abstractions simpler. Ruby and other languages let you instantiate objects in different languages, so you should use different languages and not just Java. Everything should be an object, so it can be a component.

Automate your testing – now
The standard Jenkins build to the pipeline includes both Assert unit testing and natural-language scripts for functional testing. The TDD and BDD approaches have pushed testing ahead of coding. Running tests automatically frees testers to focus on designing smarter tests and makes regression testing much easier.

Create a mobile application for your site
Every website should have a corresponding mobile app to increase interest and customer engagement. It does not have to be related to the site, it simply needs to be an effective engine for reeling in and securing consumer interest.

For example, a power company’s mobile app most likely would not be used by its customers to pay bills, but imagine the possibilities if it provided unique ways to save on energy costs. Look at what Clorox did with its MyStain app. It’s a runaway success and a clever way to engage more with your customers. If a 100-year-old company can get customers excited about sodium chlorite, then you can certainly come up with something to pique their curiosity.

Write with MEAN
Finally, you might have been using the LAMP stack, which is Linux, Apache, MySql, and PhP. But as you probably know, Node.js has made it possible to use JavaScript as both a back and frontend development tool. Node.js lets you write entire applications using JavaScript, eliminating the need to use more than one programming language.

MEAN takes this approach. It includes the MongoDB database, Node.js, Angular.js framework, and Express MVC user interface. Moving your entire development shop onto a single platform simplifies development. MEAN is a cleaner approach and lends itself to the component mix-and-match design discussed in detail above.
BrieBug Solutions a Denver based website and mobile application development agency that specializes in Angular and Full Stack development. If this is a technology that you would be interested in to boost your business, feel free to contact us so we can get you started on your vision!

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