web application design and development

What is a web application?

Software that was traditionally installed on a user’s machine is now commonly delivered via a web browser. This web application revolution has huge advantages for both end users, wanting to be device independent and software vendors, wanting to provide the latest tools and services. You only have to look at Microsoft Office or Sage accounting software to see just how much the management and delivery of software is changing.

With mobile becoming the dominant platform for web users, creating applications that work across multi devices is becoming the Holy Grail for web application developers. Removing the need for a user to install software directly onto their PCs allows access to the latest revisions, functionality and security updates. Many web applications now come with built in backups or cloud storage. This centralised data approach allows the user to work from anywhere a browser and internet connection is available (and in some cases working happily offline, where no internet connection is available). No more carrying around hard drives and software CD ROMS.

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Web applications need not be complex.

The definitions can get a bit blurry but we use the following rules to define a web application:

  • Websites primarily provide information
  • Web applications primarily allow the user to perform action
  • But, the two are not always exclusive
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Web application development can bring huge benefits to an organisation, either by delivering better services to their customers or streamlining internal processes. Linking internal systems or replacing previously manual tasks are making web based applications the way forward to all types of businesses, large and small.

There are number of ways to approach the production of a web application. Size of the application and the budget usually drive a client down one of two routes. There are benefits to both processes but we’ll always aim for the same target – to meet the requirements and business objectives (even if this is different to the initial perceived requirement).

1. Detailed and complete specification

Through a thorough briefing and scoping process we will work with you produce a detailed and complete specification before any designer’s pens touch paper or the developers start cutting code. Through an iterative process of wire-framing and prototyping we will work with you to develop the application one step at a time. We will question and test at every stage to make sure we stay true to the specification but also ensuring that the end goal or business objective is being achieved – test, review, test, review.

This is the best approach for smaller web applications where the requirement is well established and unlikely to change throughout the design and development process. A good example of this is an online calculator we designed and built for Fraedom (Spendvision). Rouge delivered a responsive, interactive, global, multicurrency application to help sell Spendvision services. The specification was developed with the client and agreed upfront, before production begins.

2. Agile / Scrum approach

It is not always possible to predict the best solution to a problem without rolling up your sleeves and working on prototypes or getting development underway. Rather than spend time on specification writing and planning (especially on larger projects) it is often more beneficial to work through options by starting development, on paper or with code. It is essential that the business requirement is understood and clearly defined before any other work begins – what problem are we trying to solve? Once this is clear and agreed, we can break the requirement down into manageable, deliverable chunks and start to attack them in order of importance – most important first. Working in “Sprints” of 3-4 weeks gives us regular review points. At the beginning of each Sprint we set out the goals for the coming weeks and review the previous Sprints' work. The intention is to deliver working code at the end of each Sprint and keep the project on track through continuous, gentle realignment. This way we spend precious client’s time and budget on collaboration and delivery rather than trying to stick religiously to a previously and more than likely out-of-date plan.

With an Agile approach we work closely with DataSift to continuously develop and improve their Web Developer’s portal.

Get a quote for your web app project

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