What is a web app?
When the smartphones started taking off, many companies were quick to jump on the mobile app bandwagon. Every business worth its salt seemed to have its own iPhone and Android app – regardless of whether customers actually wanted or needed it. Today, we know more about how users engage with apps and can focus more on genuine user benefit. While the mobile app still plays a central part in business delivery and innovation, organisations sometimes need an alternative platform. This is where the web app comes in.
What is a web app?
A web app is a software application that runs in a web browser. It can be a standalone program, or it can be a feature that is embedded seamlessly into an existing website. The user can access the app’s functionality easily with just a regular browser connected to the internet, often without having to actively download or install any software, from a desktop as well as a mobile device.
The challenge of app development
Whether you want a mobile app or a web app, creating one doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. With the help of a skilled development team, you can get a fully branded app up and running in a matter of weeks. But of course, just having an app is not a goal in itself! The difficult part is creating a service and a user experience that actually adds value to the customer – which takes more than just development skills. It requires that you know your audience and understand how to meet their needs in a simple, accessible way.
Examples of web apps
There are countless ways in which you can use a web app to create a useful, informative or entertaining user experience. Some of the most popular uses of web app technology include:
A self-assessment is an excellent use of a web app, as it can provide a genuinely interactive user experience – while often also collecting valuable data for the service provider. It can be used for testing and training, evaluating data, creating visual reporting, and much more.
Example: Risk strategy and management providers Apomatix launched an online cyber security platform for collecting IT related information and then creating a strategy and recommendations for improving an organisation’s cyber security.
Many of us expect to be able to instantly make bookings and reservations online, without having to phone up a booking agent or wait for an email response. This entire process of booking and ticketing can be easily managed with the help of a web app, where the user can see live availability, make a payment, and get their ticket delivered immediately.
Example: Beauty brand Forever Living Products has an online event ticket management system that users can access via a web application. The app allows users to make a booking and instantly receive a digital ticket. This entire e-commerce and ticketing system was built to replace a system where tickets previously had to be manually processed and sent out in the post – incurring costs in staff time as well as postage.
Shopping is another area where we have become used to the ability to instantly view and buy products online. This has led to a huge amount of e-commerce solutions, and today it’s relatively easy to set up an out-of-the-box e-commerce tool on a website. However, there are often issues with using a ready-made solution as they won’t necessarily integrate with other internal and external systems and are rarely able to adapt to changes in the business.
Example: Musical instrument retailer GAK had a whole new, customised e-commerce web solution built, to replace its previous rigid and outdated system. By simply improving a few key aspects such as user friendliness, image processing and payment options, GAK saw an instant 10% jump in sales – which shows that it’s not just about having an e-commerce solution in place, but quality does matter.
Another great usage area of web apps is the visual display of data. These days transparency is becoming increasingly important for making good business decisions, and having access to the right information on clear, visual dashboards can make a huge difference.
Example: Hospitality start-up Smart Space Strategy uses an application for strategic insight, analytics, and performance mapping to their clients. With the help of this smart online app, the business was able to shift from manual Excel sheet input to fully automated data processing and real-time dashboards that their clients love to use.
While many of us still aim to be paperless companies, we still do need documents and records – which can be time-consuming to create. But a web app can easily become a tool for pre-creating some of our most common business documents and automatically producing the final version with just a few data entry fields.
Example: i-Cert is a business that specialises in helping organisations with their export documentation. By creating a web app for document creation, i-Cert was able to provide a large number of businesses with a simple, user-friendly and fully compliant step-by-step process for document creation – directly in their web browser.
Web app or mobile app?
In some scenarios, the web app is a better starting point for delivering online services. However, there are many benefits to working with mobile apps – especially when it comes to capitalising on the unique ways a smartphone can interact with software using things like the built-in GPS tracker, camera or gyroscope.
Regardless of which path you’re interested in, ensure you embark on your development journey with the user in mind. As long as you are 100% clear on what results you want your customers to see, you will be able to select the perfect platform!