Web Application Architecture: The Ultimate Guide

Gartner defines the web application market as an environment that is continuously evolving, incorporating new technologies and increasing safety standards.

In this regard, the proper attention to the foundational design of a web app contributes to maintaining the required robustness, responsiveness, and security of this software. In a web app, this is what solid web app architecture is responsible for.

Web application architecture refers to the way in which the various software components of a web application interact with each other and the hardware they run on.

Web application architecture team

This article will provide an overview of modern web application architecture, including its key components, types, and models so that you can invest in this type of architecture with confidence.

What Is Web Application Architecture?

The definition of web app architecture is broad and depends on the focus of building web applications. Technically, it’s the skeleton of a web app, including its elements, databases, systems, servers, interfaces, and all the communication happening between them. In more abstract terms, it indicates the logic behind responses to client and server requests.

When it comes to business benefits, web application architecture refers to the process of creating web applications and planning for their needs in terms of speed, scalability, and security.

In short, web app architecture refers to how web applications are structured and how they’re deployed on a server. As opposed to most desktop software, which users download and install, an Internet-based service must operate seamlessly over HTTP.

Why Is Web App Architecture Important?

Ensure customer satisfaction: Investing in web application architecture, or a solid blueprint of its functioning, is needed from the standpoint of user experience.

Being an important part of developing any web app, it makes sure your design is efficient and scalable, which means it will work well under a variety of conditions and avoid downtime. Otherwise, a business app will irritate users with numerous bugs and turn them away from cooperating with it.

Greater business results: The right web application architecture can save your company time and money over the long term, making sure that your website operates at its optimal capacity and runs smoothly without any problems.

In particular, web app architecture allows web developers to create websites that scale well as traffic increases; it also provides features such as offline access (e.g., Google Docs) that are increasingly expected by today’s consumers.

Better app performance: A solid web app architecture introduces a great degree of flexibility, meaning its adaptiveness to dynamic market fluctuations and customer demands.

The vision on the overall structure makes it easier for developers to work on an app in several modules and introduce new features without interrupting the web app’s work.

Improved app security: By envisioning a web app as the system of several blocks, modern web application architecture protects each of its structural elements separately.

This way, overall security increases, making the software stand all the common safety threats like malicious attacks. Thanks to the solid structure, adding new elements won’t ruin the achieved security level.

web app architecture scheme

How Does It Work?

The exact way how web application architecture operates differs between projects, as many of its aspects aren’t dictated by technology but by your project’s needs and business objectives. In other words, web app elements can be adjusted or changed entirely without affecting the overall success of your web app.

At the same time, the typical process of communicating with web app architecture is the following:

  1. You as a client type an URL in the relevant browser field.
  2. The browser sends the request to the Domain Name Server to recognize the IP address.
  3. If successful, the browser sends a request to the server to respond.
  4. The server directs the request to the data storage to locate the page, request data display.
  5. If successful, the initially requested data appears in your browser.

In this web application architecture diagram, you can see 3 main sides of the process:

  • Client-side, or the frontend for user interaction
  • Database server, or an extra component for sending client’s data to the server
  • Server-side, or the backend storing business logic, processing requests, and sending responses

Correspondingly, there exist 3 web application architecture layers:

  1. Presentation layer: The place with static content and dynamic elements that assist interaction between users and browsers. Programming this layer requires knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, as it stands for the app’s frontend.
  2. Data layer (Data Access and Data Service): The Data Access layer is closely linked with the business layer as it gets needed information from the servers. In this environment, there can also be serverless cloud platforms like MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, Oracle RDBMS, Redis. In its turn, the Data Service layer separates business logic from the client-side while processing requests.
  3. Business layer: The web app’s backend that determines business logic and responses to browser requests that are sent to the presentation layer. The programming languages include Java, Python, PHP, JavaScript, and Ruby, and the environment contains servers, IaaS, PaaS, or serverless cloud platforms.

All the layers work independently and communicate with each other through the relevant components.

web app architecture request response cycle

Web Application Architecture Components

The applications differ in complexity and functionality, and the number of layers and components changes accordingly. It may happen that an app is so simple that it works as a monolith storing all the web app architecture in one place.

Nevertheless, a typical web app will consist of multiple components (or tiers) that interact with each other. Usually, the two major groups for web application architecture are user interface and structural web components.

User Interface Components

This group of components composes a visual interface and has no ties to the architecture itself. Being a part of the interface layout design, the set of UI components includes activity logs, dashboards with analytics, and notifications.

Structural Web Components

Client components: The frontend part that appears in the browser and serves as the field to interact with a web application. The client components are developed with HTML, CSS, and Javascript and don’t need an operating system or device connectivity to operate. Simply put, these components are the web app representation.

Server components: The backend part of the web application architecture that is built using Java, Python, .Net, NodeJS, PHP, and Ruby on Rails to create app logic. Also, server components compose the database, meaning a control center for data storage.

web application deployment diagram

Models of Web Applications

Web application architecture models differ based on two criteria: the number of servers and the number of databases. To pick the best one, you should carefully revise your aims and constraints and find the most appropriate one for the current stage of business development.

One Web Server, One Database Model

  • The simplest: You have only one server and one database for all the requests and responses.
  • Relatively unreliable: If the single server goes down, your app will shut down immediately.
  • Relevant for testing: These days, one web server, one database model is too old for real apps. However, it’s a great way to test your web app idea and overview the fundamental design of your web app as an MVP.

Multiple Web Servers, One Database Model

  • Stateless architecture: There is no single web server for data storage. When a client inputs information, the relevant server writes it to the sole database managed outside.
  • Relatively reliable: As there are more than two servers in the model, a backup server is always available.
  • One database availability: Dangerous in terms of possible website crash.

Multiple Web Servers, Multiple Databases Model

  • The most efficient: No single point of failure, as there are several web servers and databases.
  • Flexibility: You have at least two options for database storage, so you can choose to keep identical data in all of them or distribute information.
  • Some information can be lost: In the case of a crash, you won’t lose your entire web app. Nevertheless, some data will be lost. To prevent this scenario from happening, it’s better to install load balancers.

Types of Web Application Architecture

Progressive Web Apps

A web application architecture type is a particular pattern under which the components interact with each other. In other words, it shows the way app logic lets the client side and server side communicate.

To make the right choice here, it’s also relevant to check your business requirements, along with technical information about features, functionalities, and the desired app logic.

Single Page Application Architecture

This web application architecture is designed to show relevant content only. To make this happen, it first loads the relevant web page and then dynamically updates the representation of its content with the requested information only.

In other words, it doesn’t refer to the server for loading new pages but sends requests for the needed parts of the webpage only.

Single Page Applications contribute to smoother performance and a more intuitive user experience.

Microservice Architecture

Being the frequent alternative to an unreliable monolithic web application architecture, microservices disperse the functionality to deliver small and lightweight services separately.

In particular, they are loosely coupled and use APIs for communication if a sophisticated business problem arises. This peculiarity eases the developer’s life since it’s possible for individual service components to be built in different programming languages.

Thanks to its flexibility and stability, microservice architecture has gained popularity these days, with businesses like Amazon, eBay, and Netflix adopting it for their complex needs.

Serverless Architecture

In this web application architecture type, you outsource both server and infrastructure management to a third-party cloud service provider. This way, a web app logic execution won’t intervene in the infrastructure running.

Choosing a serverless architecture is good for companies that want to delegate server and hardware management to a reliable tech partner and concentrate on front-end development tasks instead.

Also, this web application architecture type allows working on small functions in apps. The service providers that assist in server management are Amazon and Microsoft, among others.

Progressive Web Apps

Being among the most promising web app trends since 2019, progressive web apps offer a convenient and effective user experience available from any browser and device through a shared URL.

The application of progressive web apps is wide, including industries like entertainment, finance, and eCommerce. Their key benefits include lightweight, cost-effectiveness, cross-device nature, ability to attract web traffic, and a fully functioning app experience.

Web Application Architecture: Best Practices and Tips

Here, we’ve gathered the top 5 recommendations for business owners to consider while working on web app architecture for their projects and building cooperation with tech partners.

1. Think of a proper web application architecture at the earliest stages

Without a comprehensive structure, your application will turn into a labyrinth of messy elements and components that are too hard to handle.

2. Don’t copy somebody’s success

The top mistake is to pick a web application architecture of a successful company and simply replicate it. In reality, a successful architecture is one that corresponds with your business goals and ideas, not theirs.

3. Pay attention to your technical limitations

It’s not always possible to get the best and most successful elements in your web application architecture. However, with the proper attention to quality attributes and realistic business expectations, you will get the maximum from all the components you have.

4. Eliminate the problems right away

Don’t wait for the web app release to fix the problems in its architecture. The earlier you address the issues, the more reliable core features it will have.

5. Create a checklist of successful web app features

To make sure your web app has achieved its goal, it’s good practice to note your expectations from it at the very beginning and discuss their possibility and measurable KPIs with your tech partner.

The possible checklist may include these features:

  • Overall system flexibility
  • Components can be reused
  • Well-written code
  • Ability to scale
  • System stability
  • Easy bug detection
  • Sticking to security standards
  • Fields to work with user feedback
  • No crashes
  • Easy-to-use
  • Responds fast
  • Can be deployed automatically

Web application architecture development

Refer to Intellectsoft to Get a Web App

So, the success of a web app is always closely connected to its architecture. In this regard, we recommend each business owner and their software development team dedicate attention to picking the best architecture design for the project.

In the future, the time spent on this stage will lead to thousands of dollars and lots of time and nerves saved on fixing errors in the core app functionality.

If you need professional help in building a modern web application architecture, we’re here to help! Contact the Intellectsoft team, and we’ll build together the software solution that perfectly fits your exact business needs.

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