Are Web Applications Popular?

Data Visualisation Laptop

Picture this scenario, you’ve just created your business. You’re looking to create a brand with your web presence to connect with your customers.

Your research unveils that there are two different types of hosted web properties. Websites and web applications.

Well, you already know a lot about websites but what about web applications?

Are web applications popular?

In the current state of web development, web applications are very popular. It is no longer possible for a business to reach peak growth without a proper web application.

Web applications are popular because they play a crucial role in the branding process. Using this technology, a business is able to maintain a proper communication between potential customers and other business organisations. 

Web applications also increase a user’s interaction with a business or product, this leaves the user feeling more engaged and can improve conversion rates, user retention and revenue generated.

Web applications have now become a staple for sizable business or brands and are slowly taking over static websites as the leading web option to showcase a business capabilities.

But why exactly are web applications popular?

Lets explore some of the main reasons for the surge of popularity of web applications.

But first of all.

What is considered a web application?

The definition of a web application is a contested topic. Many consider web applications to be similar to standard websites.

However, we must consider that web applications are built with completely different technologies when compared to standard websites.

Because of this, web applications have far more functionality than its standard website equivalent.

So what is considered is a web application? Well, a definition from Google can help us out here.

“Progressive Web Apps use modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience. They evolve from pages in browser tabs to immersive, top-level apps, maintaining the web’s low friction at every moment..”

So what does this mean? Well, web applications mimic the behaviour and functionality of mobile apps. This differentiates them from what many consider to be a standard website.

They provide a far more seamless experience.

Its important to note that while they are defined differently, a website and a web app are fundamentally very similar and contain many overlaps in purpose and functionality.

But the technologies used in a web app are very specialised and, as a result, have features that could give your business or service an advantage over a static website.

All web apps are web sites, but not all web sites are web apps. But why exactly are web apps better?

This is a very common question when clients are considering spending the extra money to purchase a web application. The benefits can be clearly demonstrated to your customers, including those with little or no technical experience.

What are examples of web based applications?

There are countless of web based applications available to use today. I’m sure that you’ve come across one without even realising it.

Here is a curated list of web applications that I think provide meaningful interactivity. These options should give an insight into a web applications key features:

Wordcounter.io

This is a beautifully designed word counting application. It oozes style while having smooth layers of interaction. All the animations blend seamlessly and as a result the interactions feel very fluid.

Its an impressive design and a lot of effort has gone into it. But notice how smooth the transitions are from page to page. The visual effects seem seamless in comparison to a static website. Everything loads faster and the user experience is increasingly positive because of this.

Evernote

If you have ever used note taking applications before you might have comes across Evernote.

It’s versatile, easy to use and stylistically on point.

I personally, enjoy the green colour schemes. And again, a common pattern of fast and fluid interaction is apparent here.

The app is also capable of doing a variety of different functional tasks related to note taking which would not be possible using standard web technologies.

Netflix

A web application that you may have been using without realising it.

Netflix continues to update their web app with state of the art technology in order to provide one of the best streaming experiences out there.

They are the propriters of that latest in the web application technologies so they remain as a point of reference when looking for examples of a cutting edge web brand.

Coin Profit

An application that has been worked on here at JSdiaries. In terms of web applications, we practise what we preach. We’ve tried to put in as much interactivity as possible and the technology of web applications enables us to do so.

Trello

A comprehensive team note taking application, Trello provides a nice dashboard like feel using the latest in web application technologies.

Trello gives the user the feeling of interacting with a intrigute software product inside the browser.

The feeling of being an app really removes the notion that you are still inside the confines of a web browser.

Note that in all these applications that I’ve mentioned, they all have a common pattern of fast and fluid user interaction.

I hope this list demonstrated that brands that use web applications are constantly trying to evoke meaningful interactivity that you can’t simulate with a run of the mill static website.

What are the advantages of using a web based application?

 

So I’ve demonstrated some of the aesthetic aspects of web applications but what are the actual advantages?

Performance

Performance plays a major role in the success of any online brand or business. You users need to have fast experience or they will simply click away or not bother.

This can be extremely costly to a business that is communicating with their users through websites using old technology.

To demonstrate this, I’ve researched some case studies that show how even the smallest of site speed margins can make all the difference when it comes to generating revenue.

Pinterest Study

Pinterest undertook a study to better understand their own websites performances. They were able to analyse where their site was lacking in terms of page speed.

They formulated a plan to do a complete overhaul of the way their web application was being implemented. In the process, they began to track robust metrics in order to keep on top of these improvements.

Their main focus, was to track the loading time from the minute the user enters or clicks on their url. They then note which images are available and which still take awhile to load.

And while Pinterest was already using a web app, these performance metrics indicate that even minor tweaks can increase user retention and overall revenue.

After rebuilding their pages, Pinterest reduced their user wait time by 40%.

As a result, they were able to provide a much better experience for their users that have slower internet speeds.

These were the benefits that they saw:

  • 15% increase in SEO traffic
  • 15% increase in conversion rate to signup

Keeping this in mind, imagine the possible improvements of a business coming from a standard website to a web application.

From this Pinterest study, it would be a safe to assume that the improvements here would be significant.

Zalondo

A case study from the Zalondo noted that they saw a 0.7% increase of revenue by they decreasing their loading times by 100ms.

While this article is quite technical, its another piece of evidence that loading time are so crucial to businesses today.

Google

Google provided a detailed article on industry benchmarks

Perhaps the most significant statistic mentioned was the following:

 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.

Just think about that for a second. Can you imagine the amount of revenue and users that is being lost from this?

And without the technologies that web application provide this wouldn’t be possible.

Zitamm Wonen

Zitmaxx Wonen, a furniture retailer aims to reduced the overall time of their mobile users loading speed.

After making some amendments to the way their home pages load and reducing the time taken to only 3 seconds.

They saw  increases of 51% from their customers conversion rate. This is an incredible stat and really speaks to the overall financial vision of the company.

While some business lack the awareness to take initiave and increase development resources to make these technical improvement. Others, like Zitamm Wonen saw this opportunity and delegated resource to speed improvements.

It’s clearly such a vital part of online branding, digital ecommerce and user retention. It speaks volumes about an already established business who can recognise this opportunity and take advantage of it.

Why use web based application?

Lets say that your business doesn’t rely on conversions of users but is rather a showcase for your product and what you do.

In this case, perhaps the case studies mentioned weren’t compelling enough to convince you of the power of web applications.

The cases I mentioned were mainly for high level business at a large scale.

So if you are small business, why use them?

Data

A web application can really benefit your business when it comes to handling data.

If you have content that is subject to change, web applications will allow you to dynamically update your data through content management systems.

This is particularly useful when you know your data will be updating regularly.

Web applications allow the implementation of real-time data, resembling that seen in a real-time dashboard.

New information will automatically update on screen without having to refresh the page. This can be extremely valuable when you are trying to depict real-time information to your clients.

All changes to your content or to the external real-time data will be reflected in the interface of your web application.

SEO

When trying to get your business exposure to a wider audience Search Engine Optimization is paramount

In fact, it should be a business biggest consideration in order for a product or service to meet its target audience.

In order to rank high in search engines the structure or markup of a website must meet certain criteria.

Now admittedly, this used to be considered a shortcoming of web applications.

But the technology has now caught up to the point where any web app expert can provide the correct markup that will put your product or service in its correct rankings in search engines.

A developer with expertise in server side rendering will ensure your purchased web application will match what a standard website is capable of in terms of its SEO capabilities.

Lets not forget that the strength of your SEO is dictated by website performance. With fast page loads being one of the most notable perks about having a web application.

Competitive edge

Lets be honest, a lot of business are still using older technologies on the web to depict their brand.

And while these platforms are still perfectly viable to show content, services and location it can still hold back a brands potential.

Having a web applications with improved user interactivity, load times and design can give a competitive edge agains competitors.

Its logic to think that having a platform with the better technology will allow the popularity of the organisation to be boosted and lead generation to improve. 

Overall, web applications are an achievable platform for any business owner to have for themselves.

By taking the next step up and commissioning a web application rather than a website, they are improving their branding and reputation for their product, service or niche.

At the end of the day, web apps aim to amplify a user’s experience on the web.  If your business has a low scale website, small media content as well as users easily accessing their info/service of their interest, sticking to a responsive, traditional website can work just as well for you.

But as we’ve established, it is limiting your brands potential. If you’re looking to increase the capabilities of the platform that you are using, to demonstrate your product and service as well as upgrading the image of professionalism that you are depicting to your clients. 

I would highly recommend a web application for these purposes alone.

Web applications are the future of how users consume and interact with data and brands on the web.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if are looking to upgrade your business platform.

Gareth Dunne

Full Stack Developer and creator of JSdiaries. Passionate about the latest in web technologies and how it can provide value for my clients.