The right web application architecture can significantly help you. You can provide great user experience, performance, scalability, security, etc., in your web app if you have the right architecture.
Take the following steps to choose a web application architecture:
1. Understand the objectives of defining an application architecture for your web application
Why define an application architecture? During a web application development project, you typically focus on the following key aspects:
- What your users will see on the screen and their interactions;
- How the app handles different operations internally.
You define an application architecture to specify how to handle the above aspects. An application architecture brings together all the necessary elements for this.
By defining a web application architecture diagram, you describe the relationships between the application, multiple databases, and web servers. You will decide how to distribute the functionalities and logic between the client-side application and web server.
2. Get clarity about the basics of a web app architecture
What exactly do you do when defining a modern web application architecture? You define how the client-side and server-side components of web applications come together during a web app development project.
The server-side contains code that runs on the server, and it’s also known as the back-end. Developers use programming languages like Java, Python, etc., to code the back-end.
3. Obtain clarity about the components of web apps
You need an in-depth understanding of various web application architecture components. These are as follows:
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3a. UI (user interface)/UX (user experience) components
These web app components are related to user interfaces and interactive user experience. They present a visual layout for the app.
User interface components influence user interactions. However, architects don’t include them in the architecture when undertaking a software development project.
3b. The client component
The client component of an interactive web app helps users to interact effectively with the client. It runs on the user’s browser. The client component could include widgets, etc. It is operating system-agnostic, and it doesn’t depend on the hardware.
3c. The server component
The server component of a web app manages the internal workings. This component includes the application logic, and it could include web services. It handles all database operations like retrieval and updates.
4. Understand the server-side implementation approaches for web architecture design
Learn about the server-side implementation approaches for web architecture design. These approaches are as follows:
4a. Monolithic architecture
The traditional web development process significantly utilized monolithic architecture. Web apps using this architecture have one single codebase. Web developers needed to update the entire codebase if they make changes.
This web application architecture works for small apps. However, updating the entire codebase for every change adversely impacts the scalability of the software development process.
This architecture pattern consists of the following tiers:
The presentation tier is the topmost layer of the web app. It’s the user interface of the app. The presentation tier translates requests from users, furthermore, it translates the results for the users.
The logic tier contains the business logic of the application. This layer processes the input requests and evaluates them.
It makes decisions and carries out calculations. This layer processes and transports data between the other two tiers.
The data tier manages data used in the web application. All CRUD (“create, update, read, and delete”) operations take place in this layer.
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The data access layer manages the communications between the application and the database. The data service layer might use cloud or on-premise servers to store data.
4b. Microservices architecture
You might find the microservices architecture suitable if your web app offers multiple distinct services. This software architecture requires each microservices to be completely independent of other microservices.
Individual microservices utilize distinct web servers, data storage, other computing resources, and code. Netflix is an example of such a model.
This web application architecture has the following plus points:
- You can form entirely separate teams to develop each microservice.
- Web developers can test one microservice independently without impacting other microservices.
- Deployment of one microservice doesn’t impact other microservices.
- You can scale your web app easily using this architecture.
This architecture pattern has the following disadvantages:
- Defining microservices can be a complex exercise. You need to have entirely independent services to categorize them as microservices.
- Securing the communication between microservices can be hard.
- Transitioning from monolithic architecture to microservices architecture can be hard.
4c. Serverless architecture
The term “Serverless” doesn’t really mean that you don’t need servers. Your web application might need multiple servers. However, you don’t manage these servers in this architecture pattern.
You outsource the IT infrastructure management to an MCSP (Managed Cloud Services Provider) like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform. These MCSPs provide and manage web servers and other computing resources for you.
This architecture pattern offers the following advantages:
- Your organization doesn’t need to invest in IT infrastructure. You save the IT infrastructure management manpower costs. Cloud service providers manage IT infrastructure-related tasks, and they provide 24×7 premium technical support.
- Web developers can focus solely on coding.
- You can reduce IT infrastructure costs due to the “pay-as-you-go” model.
Are you in a highly regulated industry? You need to review your information security requirements thoroughly before using the Serverless architecture.
5. Review the key factors for choosing a web application architecture
You choose the right web application architecture pattern based on your project and organizational requirements. Keep the following factors in mind:
- Scalability: The user base of your web app might grow. The right web application architectures should offer scalability.
- Performance: Whether on mobile devices or desktops, your web app should offer industry-standard performance. Opt for an architecture pattern that supports high performance.
- Security: Data exchanges and communications between multiple web servers can be very common in many web apps. You need to secure these exchanges and communications. Select an architecture pattern that supports robust security.
- Maintainability: Assess how frequently you would enhance your web app. Keep maintenance requirements in mind. Your web application architecture should make these easy.
- Automation of testing and deployment: Testing and deployment automation is a crucial need in the agile world. Choose an architecture pattern that aids this.
- Data management: You need to ensure effective storage and error-free data management. Pay close attention to this when deciding on the web application architecture.
- Future development: The right architecture pattern should make future development projects easy to execute.
6. Study the client-side web application architecture approaches
We talked about the server-side code and architecture approach, however, you also need to decide on the approach for the client-side. Review the key client-side approaches, which are as follows:
6a. Progressive web applications (PWAs)
Progressive web apps are web applications. However, users can also view the web pages of PWAs as pages of mobile apps.
PWAs incorporate a few features typically expected in mobile apps, e.g., push notifications. You need to implement a web application architecture pattern to develop PWAs though.
A progressive web app architecture offer the following advantages:
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- Users can access it on any device that supports a browser.
- They don’t need to wait for the app installation.
- Web developers create PWAs focusing on the mobile user experience. Therefore, PWAs offer a better user experience to mobile users than traditional web apps.
- Apart from having features like push notifications, you can access PWAs offline.
- PWAs don’t need to support compatible APIs like native mobile apps.
There are a few limitations of PWAs, which are as follows:
- Browsers like Edge and Safari can’t display PWAs very well.
- Organizations offer PWAs to cater to mobile users, however, PWAs can’t match the native user experience.
6b. Single page applications (SPAs)
A single-page application has all functionalities on one page. A SPA will dynamically update the content of a segment of a page without reloading the entire page. It only updates the segment of the page that’s being used by an app user.
SPAs offer the following advantages:
- SPAs are fast since they only reload the segment of the page that’s being used.
- Users don’t need to navigate to different tabs, therefore, they find SPAs easy to use.
SPAs are ideal for utility apps like Gmail that offer limited functionalities. However, they have the following disadvantages:
- You can offer only very few functionalities in a SPA.
- Developers need to find ways to remind users to save their changes since there’s only one page.
- Preparing tests with automation tools become harder since timeouts become factors in the case of SPAs.
6c. Multi-page apps (MPAs)
Multi-page applications are quite common, and web developers use traditional web development practices to create them. The app communicates actions by users to web app servers. Subsequently, the MPA triggers reloading of the web page based on the response.
MPAs offer the following advantages:
- You can incorporate many features since there are multiple web pages.
- Most web developers know how to develop an MPA.
- Commonly available analytics tools can easily track MPAs.
- MPAs are SEO-friendly.
The disadvantages of MPAs are as follows:
- Developing the server-side code of MPAs tends to be complex.
- MPAs might have performance issues due to many features and web pages.
- Web developers need to test many web pages even if they change only one web page. That’s because of internal relations between different pages in an MPA.
Many DevTeam.Space developers have done considerable work on web architecture. The following are a few examples:
- Viktoria improved the architecture during the Dressmate web development project.
- Andrey designed the architecture for the American South Storage project.
- Igor has designed the architecture for the Floodlight Studios Retail Health project.
Building web applications? Contact DevTeam.Space to hire developers with extensive experience in modern web app architecture and web development.
Netflix, Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Spotify, PayPal, Uber, Etsy, and PassportScan are some of the leading websites that use the microservice architecture.
Some examples of progressive web apps are Starbucks, Debenhams, BMW, Flipboard, Soundslice, 2048 Game, MakeMyTrip, Uber, Kopa, Pinterest, Yummly, and Spotify.
Some examples of single-page apps are Gmail, Facebook, Trello, Google Maps, Twitter, Airbnb, Grammarly, and Google Drive.