An Ultimate Guide of Web Application Architecture

Take a walk through our guide to explore about the web application architecture, its components, models, types, and the best practices to follow.

May 31, 2021
7 mins read
Last Updated September 09, 2021
Preview-Web Application Architecture

An Ultimate Guide of Web Application Architecture

An efficient, quality-induced web architecture has become the de-facto of a good product and is indeed instrumental for data and information flow to achieve desired business goals. It acts as a blueprint for data and information flow that can solve business problems effectively. An architecture with well-thought features and intuitive interface ensures seamless user experience. It also reduces the chances of the application from crashing to avoid downtime.

For any business to avoid paying through the nose to develop an application is an important goal. To accomplish that you should know what is a good architecture? Is your architecture future-proof? Can it scale and obtain market sustenance? And how do you identify which components and functionalities are significant to be added in a web app?

The list of questions is endless and determining answers to them might prove to be challenging unless you have an understanding of a good Web application architecture, its components, and modules. Fear not, in this blog, we will be addressing everything you need to know.

Editor’s note: Hiren explains the vital role of web architecture to help CIO’s in laying the foundation for their business app. If you need help with web architecture, consider Simform’s web application development services for your requirements.

What is Web Application Architecture?

Web application architecture is a blueprint of simultaneous interactions between components, databases, middleware systems, user interfaces, and servers in an application. It can also be described as the layout that logically defines the connection between the server and client-side for a better web experience.

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Why is Web App Architecture Important?

Market trends keep changing, user expectations keep evolving, and the growth of a business is never-ending. A web app needs an architecture to lay a strong foundation, and without it, your business app will be diving in the big ball of mud architecture anti-pattern.

A well-thought web app architecture can handle the various loads and adapt to the changing business requirement skillfully to deliver a fast user experience that further improves the app performance. You can also take on several development tasks at the same time by dividing the structure into several small modules, eventually reducing the development time as well. Furthermore, it becomes easier to integrate new functionalities without affecting the overall structure.

And how about security you may ask. Well, web architecture divides the application into several blocks that are secured separately to minimize security threats, including the risk posed by malicious codes. Apart from that, applications with a future-proof architecture provide the opportunity to add new features and maintain low latency, even when user count increases.

How does the Web App Architecture Work?

All applications are made up of two primary components: 

  • Client-side, popularly called: the frontend, where the code is written in HTML, CSS, JavaScript and stored within the browser. It’s where user interaction takes place.
  • Server-side, also known as the backend, controls the business logic and responds to HTTP requests. The server-side code is written in Java, PHP, Ruby, Python, etc.

Apart from this, there is an additional component i.e. database server, which sends the requested data to the server-side.  

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Let’s understand how an architecture functions:

You type a URL, for example, ‘walmart.com’ in the browser and hit enter. The browser will send a request to the Domain Name Server that will recognize the IP address and further send your request to the server where Walmart is located. The server then catches the request and sends it to the data storage to locate the page and requests for data to be displayed on the browser. The page is then displayed on your screen with the requested information.

Find out how you can build scalable web applications?

Layers of Web App Architecture

Modern web applications follow a layered architecture that consists of presentation, business, persistence, and database layers. Small applications have three layers, where, in some cases, the business and persistence layers act as one layer, while complex applications have five or six layers. 

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  1. Presentation layer, built with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and its frameworks, enables communication between the interface and browser to facilitate user interaction. 
  2. Business layer defines the business logic and rules. It processes browser requests, executes the business logic associated with the requests, and then sends it to the presentation layer.
  3. Persistence layer is responsible for data persistence and is also known as Data Access Layer. It’s closely connected to the business layer and has a database server that retrieves data from corresponding servers.
  4. Database layer, also known as Data Service Layer, holds all the data and ensures data security by separating the business logic from the client-side.

Each of these layers works in isolation. That means each layer works independently. Components of one layer are closed and deal with the associated layer’s logics. For example, components residing in the presentation layer deal with presentation logic, while the components in the business layer deal with business logic.

It also reduces the future burden while changes are required in the web application. Hence, changes can be made in one layer without affecting the components of other layers. 

Web Application Components

Web app components are broadly divided into two parts–

User interface components are a part of the visual interface of a web application and have no interaction with the architecture. They’re restricted to a web page’s display and consist of activity logs, configuration settings, dashboards, statistics, widgets, notifications, etc., to enhance the user experience.

Structural web components consist of client and server components. Client components exist in the user’s browser and interact with the functionality of web applications. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are commonly used for building these components.

On the other side, server components are bifurcated into a web app server that handles business logic and a database server that stores data. PHP, JAVA, Python, Node.js, .NET, and Ruby on Rails are some frameworks used for creating server components.

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Models of Web Applications

There are several models used to build these aforementioned components. Simform always believes in opting for the best model to serve your business purpose with excellent app performance. Our team of engineers is skilled in structuring the best architecture model according to the type of web application you want to build. Let’s take a look at all the available options:

Models of Web App Components

One web server, one database model might be a little outdated as it has only one server and database to handle all requests. This means if the server goes down so will your app. However, it is generally used for test practices and is a good option if you are a startup having budgetary constraints.

Multiple web servers, one database model reduces the risk of data failure as a backup server is always available if one server goes down. However, the chances of the website crash may still exist due to the availability of only one database.

Multiple web servers, multiple databases model reduces the app’s performance risk since there are two options for database storage. You can either store identical data on all the databases or distribute it evenly among all servers. 

Types of Web Application Architecture

It is always a good practice to select the most appropriate architecture considering various factors in mind, such as app logic, features, functionalities, business requirements, etc. The right architecture defines the purpose of your product as a whole. 

Web applications are  broadly divided into four types, as listed below:

Single Page Application Architecture

SPA (Single Page Applications) has been introduced to overcome the traditional limitations to achieve smooth app performance, intuitive, and interactive user experience. 

Instead of loading a new page, SPAs load a single web page and reload the requested data on the same page with dynamically updated content. The rest of the web page remains untouched. They are developed on the client-side using JavaScript frameworks as the entire logic is always shifted to the frontend.

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We worked with Food Truck Spaces to build a tech solution that could act as an automated directory between event organizers, property owners, and food entrepreneurs. We developed a single-page web application using AngularJS and ASP.Net API to automate the process of booking, advertising, and online transactions.

Microservice Architecture

Microservice architecture has become the best alternative to Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and monolithic architecture. The services are loosely coupled to be developed, tested, maintained, and deployed independently. Such services can also communicate with other services through APIs to solve complex business problems. 

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Deployment of web apps using monolithic architecture is a cumbersome task because of its tightly coupled components. Microservices has resolved this issue by separating the application into multiple individual service components. It further simplifies the connectivity between service components and eliminates the need for service orchestration. Some tech giants who are popular for using microservices are Amazon, Netflix, SoundCloud, Comcast, and eBay.

Serverless Architecture

It’s an architecture where the whole execution of code is taken care of by cloud service providers– no need to deploy them manually on your server. Serverless architecture is a design pattern where applications are built and run without any manual intervention on the servers that are managed by third-party cloud service providers like Amazon and Microsoft.  

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It lets you focus more on the quality of the product and complexity to make them highly scalable and reliable. Broadly, it is categorized into two types – Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) and Function-as-a-Service (FaaS).

BaaS lets developers focus on the frontend development tasks, eliminating the operations performed on the backend. AWS Amplify, for one, is a popular BaaS product. FaaS, on the other hand, is an event-driven model that allows developers to break the applications into small functions to focus on the code and event triggers. The rest will be handled by the FaaS service providers such as AWS Lambda and Microsoft Azure. 

We partnered with Fédération Internationale de Hockey (FIH) to develop a highly scalable and interactive web app. Tech stacks like headless CMS, React, and integrated APIs were used to support the serverless features. Our experts also leveraged Amazon EC2 to handle the colossal traffic, Amazon S3 to store videos, and Amazon CloudFront as a Content Delivery Network (CDN). 

Progressive Web Applications

Google introduced Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) in 2015 to develop apps that offer rich and native functionality with enhanced capabilities, reliability, and easy installation.

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PWAs are compatible apps with any browser and can run on any device. You can easily adjust an app’s function to a tablet and a desktop as well. These apps can easily be discovered and shared through URL instead of the app store. Installation of these apps is also effortless and can be quickly added to a device’s home screen. These apps work efficiently on poor internet connectivity and in offline mode as well. 

Uber, Aliexpress, Alibaba, Pinterest, and Starbucks are few famous companies who are known for developing their products in the form of PWAs.

Web Application Architecture Best Practices & Tools

Designing an architecture is just the first step, but the success of your web application depends a lot on the architectural patterns you choose. Mind you, replicating strategies of popular web apps can do more damage than good, for oftentimes they don’t complement your business requirements. To avoid such circumstances, there are few best practices you can follow. Ensure that your web app’s architecture has:  

  • System flexibility and efficiency
  • Component reusability
  • Well-thought structure of code
  • High Scalability
  • Stability and reliability
  • Easy bug-detection through A/B testing
  • Utilization of security standards
  • Sections to collect user feedback

In addition to this, here’s a list of tools and options that can help deliver the best web app experience:

  1. IDE tools: Webstorm, Github’s Atom, NetBeans, AWS Cloud9 are a few IDEs for productivity enhancement.
  2. UX Builder tools: Invision, Figma, Sketch, etc., are commonly used today to design and improve user experience.
  3. Integration tools: MuliSoft, Cleo, JitterBit, Automate.io deliver a seamless, engaging, and unified experience.
  4. Frameworks & Libraries: React, Angular, Python, Veu, Express, Django, etc., are the most popular frameworks to deliver quality end-products.

Conclusion

The success of a modern web application is always closely connected to its architecture. Keeping pace with changing requirements is a challenging task and a minor mistake can cost you the life of your product.

Designing a modern web application architecture requires a professional and qualified architect who can understand the limitations and challenges that come along with it. We at Simform have qualified architects that can help you in deciding which framework and what architecture can empower your business purpose. If you are also at a crossroad looking for a web architect for your business application, we are ready to help you out with your product requirement. Let’s connect today! 

Hiren is VP of Technology at Simform with an extensive experience in helping enterprises and startups streamline their business performance through data-driven innovation.

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