What is a Web App? Exploring the Definition and Features

Web Apps have become an important part of our digital lives, with millions of people using them daily for various tasks, both personal and professional. In fact, statistics show that as of January 2021, there are over 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide, opening up an immense market potential for web applications. With the rapid advancements in technology and the internet’s vast accessibility, the term “Web App” has become quite popular in the IT industry and software development fields. This glossary page aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of what web apps are, how they work, their benefits and use cases, best practices, and recommended books on the topic.

“The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past.” – Tim Berners-Lee

What is a Web App? Definition of Web application

A Web App, short for Web Application, is a software application that runs on a web browser and can be accessed through the internet or an intranet. It uses a combination of server-side scripts (such as PHP, Python, or Ruby) and client-side scripts (such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) to deliver a dynamic, interactive, and responsive user interface with robust functionality. Web Apps differ from traditional desktop applications as they require no installation on the user’s device and can be accessed on multiple platforms such as Windows, macOS, and Linux, as long as there is an internet connection and a compatible web browser.

ℹ️ Synonyms: online application, browser-based application, web-based application, internet application, cloud application

How it Works

Web Apps function through a three-tier architecture, which includes a user tier, a logic tier, and a data tier. The user tier consists of the web browser, which renders the user interface and interacts with the user. The logic tier, commonly known as the application server, is responsible for processing user requests and managing server-side scripts. Finally, the data tier consists of the database server, which stores and retrieves the data needed for the application to operate. When a user interacts with a Web App, their browser sends a request to the application server, which processes the request and communicates with the database if necessary. Once the processing is completed, the server sends the response back to the browser, which is then displayed to the user as an updated view.

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Benefits of using Web App

  • Accessibility: Web Apps can be accessed on any device with an internet connection and a web browser, making them highly convenient for users.
  • Cost-Effective: Developing and maintaining a Web App is generally more cost-effective compared to creating and managing native applications for multiple platforms.
  • Easy Updates: Updating a Web App is simpler, as it only requires modification of the server-side code, eliminating the need for users to download and install updates on their devices.
  • Platform Independence: Since Web Apps run on browsers, they can work seamlessly across various operating systems and devices.
  • Scalability: As a Web App runs on a server, it can be easily scaled up or down to accommodate user traffic and resource requirements.

Web App use cases

Web Apps have a wide range of use cases across various industries, such as:

  • E-commerce platforms, like Amazon or eBay, which facilitate buying and selling online.
  • Project management tools, like Asana or Trello, which help teams collaborate and track their work progress.
  • Communication tools, like Gmail or Slack, which enable users to connect and exchange information with ease.
  • Content management systems, like WordPress or Drupal, which allow users to create, publish, and manage website content.
  • Streaming services, like Netflix or Spotify, which provide on-demand access to media content via the internet.

Best Practices

To maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of web applications, it is essential to follow best practices like implementing responsive design for optimal user experience across various devices, ensuring accessibility to cater to users with disabilities, prioritizing performance optimization to reduce page load times, adhering to secure coding practices to minimize vulnerabilities and potential security breaches, and conducting thorough usability testing to identify and rectify any issues before deployment. These best practices ensure that a Web App not only meets user expectations but also functions reliably, securely, and seamlessly across multiple platforms.

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Most recommended books about Web App

For those interested in learning more about Web Apps, here are some highly recommended books:

  • “Web Design with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery Set” by Jon Duckett
  • “Progressive Web Apps: Building Faster, Safer, and Better Mobile Web Experiences” by Jason Grigsby
  • “Web Application Development with R Using Shiny – Third Edition” by Chris Beeley
  • “Getting MEAN with Mongo, Express, Angular, and Node” by Simon Holmes and Clive Harber
  • “Web Application Security: Exploitation and Countermeasures for Modern Web Applications” by Andrew Hoffman


Web Apps have revolutionized the way users engage with digital content and interact with various services online. By understanding what Web Apps are, their advantages, use cases, and best practices, businesses and developers can capitalize on the vast potential they offer and deliver user-friendly, accessible, and powerful applications that cater to the diverse needs of their target audience.

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Back in 2013, I founded Echo with the simple business idea: "Connect great tech companies around the globe with the brightest software engineers in Eastern Europe." We've employed hundreds of talents so far and keep going.
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li-url Lou Reverchuk

IT Entrepreneur

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