Web Application Architecture in 2024: Best Practices & Trends

Developing and launching a successful web product is impossible without understanding web application architecture. Web architecture determines the performance and reliability of your product. But learning about the basics is not enough if you want to create a top-notch web app. The software engineering industry constantly evolves and changes, so new approaches and methodologies arrive daily. Learn more about the main trends in web application architecture and best practices that will help you and your team develop a strong foundation for your app. 

Understanding web application architecture

The architecture of a web application is a model of interaction between its different components. The architecture ensures that an app will be structured, efficient, secure, and scalable. Almost every architecture consists of two main components: 

  • Front end (user side). This is a visible part of a web application that users interact with. It refers to everything users experience directly, from web pages to interactive forms. The main programming language for front-end development is JavaScript, and the most popular web application frameworks are React, Angular, and Vue.js. 
  • Back end (server side). This is a hidden part of an iceberg where data processing happens. The back end includes the app’s servers and databases and is responsible for managing user connections, data storage and retrieval, and necessary computations. The most popular programming languages for the back end are Python, Ruby, Java, and PHP. 

Today, web app programmers create applications using three tiers or layers: presentation layer (client side), application layer (business side), and data access layer. Each tier represents one of the app’s principal functions and can be replaced or upgraded independently. This approach enables software engineers to create more secure, efficient, and scalable web applications. 

Types of web based application architecture

Several common architectural patterns are widely used in web-based software development, each with its advantages and limitations. Now, let’s take a look at the most popular types of web application architecture.

  • Single-page applications (SPA). This type of web application is designed to show relevant content on one page, updating it dynamically according to users’ requests. In other words, SPAs don’t refer to the server for loading new pages and only for necessary information. This approach leads to smoother performance and a more intuitive user experience. Among the setbacks are increased testing time and slower first-time speed. 
  • Progressive web applications (PWA). Progressive web apps are one of the latest and most promising trends in web app development. With this approach, your website will behave like a mobile app, taking advantage of user’s devices’ resources and storage, but without the need to download anything. PWAs can run offline, send push notifications, and interact with users’ device APIs; some of them can even run as desktop applications. This type of architecture has such disadvantages as restricted browser support and narrow utilization of native APIs. 
  • Serverless architecture. This model enables web app developers to optimize their budget by outsourcing some operations, such as server and infrastructure management, using cloud-based services like AWS or Azure. By choosing a serverless approach, the development team can focus on UX/UI, web design, and other front-end development tasks. There is still a low number of completely serverless web apps, but more and more companies use this model for certain operations. This approach raises some security concerns and can be very complex for some development teams. 
  • Monolithic architecture. This is the most traditional model. With this approach, the whole app is written as a single, cohesive unit. This type of architecture is more cost-effective and easier to deploy. Also, using web application development frameworks, testing tools, or templates with monolithic architecture is more straightforward due to the entire code being perceived as a single program. Of course, this model has its setbacks. If one part of an application malfunctions, all other parts will be affected, too. Scalability is also often a problem with monolithic web apps. 
  • Microservices. This model is often the most suitable for large and complex web applications. With a microservices architecture, a web app benefits from dispersing functionalities, which makes testing and maintenance much easier. Also, this approach leads to higher scalability. Successful web application architecture example that uses microservices is really easy to find. Netflix, eBay, and Amazon, among others, use this model in their applications. Among the cons of microservices are difficulties with debugging and complex deployment. 
  • Containers. These light, portable environments allow applications to easily move between environments and run independently. This model ensures consistency across different environments and makes deploying and managing web applications much easier. Containers first became popular as a part of microservices, but now many developers build whole architectures around them. 

Main trends in modern web application architecture

Technologies always evolve, and web-based application development is no exception. A deep understanding of the main trends in web app architecture will enable you to create great digital products.  

  • Cloud technologies. Cloud storage services have played a vital role in web app development for a long time. They provide scalable and cost-effective solutions for storing data, hosting files, and delivering content. But now, cloud-native technologies have become even more important. Docker and Kubernetes provide containers for web development, and AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud offer more than a hundred services for IT professionals. Leveraging the power of a cloud, applications become more scalable and resilient. 
  • Increased focus on user experience. In the competitive web apps development industry, there is a growing emphasis on integrating advanced client-side programming techniques and web design principles. Adoption of such frameworks as React and Vue.js, AI implementation, and serverless models enable developers to create more intuitive and user-friendly apps. 
  • Emphasis on security and compliance. Constantly evolving cyber threats led to heightened focus on robust cyber defense measures and compliance standards in web app architecture. To develop a web application with impeccable cyber defense posture, IT professionals need to implement advanced encryption methods, authentication protocols, and adherence to international standards like GDPR or HIPAA. Blockchain technologies also will play a vital role in cyber security in the next few years. 
  • Integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Web app programming will rely more and more on Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. AI coding tools already play a significant role in web development, but this trend will continue to grow. The implementation of AI and ML features within web apps can enhance user experience, automate procedures, and enhance the responsiveness of applications. 
  • Progressive web apps’ increasing popularity. PWAs are already popular, but they will continue to rise even further. Combining the functionality of web and mobile applications, progressive web apps are beneficial for user engagement and user experience. Today, more and more social media, eCommerce, and news websites are transitioning to the PWA model to attract more users. 
  • Low-code and no-code web app development. According to Statista, in 2027, the global low-code platform revenue will reach 65 billion dollars. Countless people without web development skills use low-code and no-code technologies to write small portions of code or even develop MVP. But in the next few years, we will see an emergence of whole web app architectures created using these tools. It will allow companies to minimize technical debt, saving money on web developers’ salaries. However, at this moment, low-code and no-code solutions are still not perfect for complex apps and offer limited scalability and flexibility. 

Web application architecture best practices

Based on the main trends in web application architecture, we can recommend best practices to adhere to for enhancing performance and ensuring the security and scalability of your app. 

  • Prioritize security. From the start, incorporate cyber security measures at every level of application architecture. During the web application development process, use secure coding practices, conduct regular audits, and implement comprehensive authentication and authorization protocols. This proactive approach will protect you against numerous cyber threats in the future. 
  • Embrace microservices and serverless architecture. As we already mentioned, microservices and serverless architectures are some of the most popular today, and for a good reason. These models enable you to increase the scalability and flexibility of your app. Also, using cloud services instead of on-site hardware can save money and allow you to focus more on other aspects of app development. 
  • Optimize for performance. Ensuring that your application architecture is optimized for speed and efficiency is crucial. Use such techniques as caching and load balancing. Optimize database interactions and reduce latency. Faster and more responsive apps enhance user experience and engagement level, which is critical in this competitive market. 
  • Plan for scalability. Creating web application architecture with future growth in mind will ensure that your product will remain adaptable to changing business needs and tech advancements. To ensure scalability, use cloud services, containers, and web application design patterns that support seamless updates and modifications. 

Conclusion 

Understanding web application development is crucial for every business owner or individual with ambitions to create a successful app. There is no better place to start than an application’s architecture. Deep knowledge of the main types of web app architecture, emerging trends, and best practices will significantly raise your chances for success in this dynamic and competitive landscape.