From Website to Web Application
Back before the printing press, businesses had an extremely hard time communicating with their customers. They had to rely solely on word of mouth to reach new potential customers, and the feed back received from the customers who had problems and issues more times then not consisted of never seeing the customer again. We have come a long way since those times, and several technologies are available to leverage now it comes to deciding when and how to use them.
Many business today must collect a massive amount of information. Many still have data entry positions that exist to collect that data and enter it into a database. This outdated practice has many hidden disadvantages. Accuracy is a bid disadvantage, a data entry position can never be as accurate as the customer themselves can be. Creating a web application to bridge the gap between the customer and the business will not only save the time it takes to enter data into a database, the money it costs to pay a person to enter the data directly into the database, the mistakes the person entering the data will make but it also provides better service to the customer and makes them appreciate doing business with that company.
So how do we decide what to put into an web application? The answer can be somewhat complex, but it's always worth exploring! It starts by creating a list of requirement for you web application. Like a shopping list, your list should outline the features your application requires so you can gain a big picture prospective of the application. Once you clearly see the big picture, you can outline the pros and cons of the solution currently being used, and the new web application.
Once the steps above have been completed, it's time to talk to the development team. Developing an application is a process, simplified the design process is:
- Understanding the Problem
- Planning the logic
- Coding the program
- Testing the program
- Putting the program into production
Understanding the Problem
This is a big one, since the web application is going to be developed for you the development team must have a good understanding of what problems the application must solve, but you already have a head start on that since you have already outlined the needs of the web application now it's all about conveying that to the development team. Once the development team understands the needs of the application its time to move to the next step.
Planning the Logic
Let's face it computer programs solve problems, most programs today have to solve a variety of problems so planning is a big issue. An application may need a database, it may have to perform complex mathematical equations or combinations of both. In this phase we break down all of the problems and come up with the step by step solution to each problem.
Most of the hard work should be done by this point, we understand all of the needs of our application and have a step by step plan on how best address each need. Now we have enough information to decide what technologies we need to leverage to successfully develop our program.
Coding the Program
Most people think of this part of the process when talking about application development, but the more work put into the steps above the easier this step is. Simply put, coding is the process of translating each step by step solution in to the appropriate programming language.
Testing the program
When developing an application mistakes are made, in this process the application is gone through with a variety of information to flush out the mistakes. Depending on the scale of the application this can be broken into two smaller steps.
Alpha Testing refers to internal testing or the development team testing the application prior to releasing a beta or prototype version of the application.
Beta Testing is when the users start to get involved. Often times the information in the beta version of the application is fictitious or mocked but each function can be rigorously tested against known results to make sure the application is performing to expectation.
Depending on the results of the testing phase of the application, the application may need to go back to coding phase or even back to the planning or understanding phase of the program and progress through the steps again.
Putting the Program into Production
A lot of software requires installation on each computer that will need to use the software, but with web applications the once the application is installed on the web server, the application will run through the browser on any computer no installation necessary!
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into any successful application, but with the right planning an web application can save time, money and help you server your customers better.