There are thousands of software as a service (SaaS) apps on the market. Sometimes they work great for what you need; other times, your business requires a more custom application.
See 11 things to think about before you dive into custom web application development.
Web apps are all around us. You probably have one open in another tab right now. It’s any system you use in your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari) that goes beyond simple website functionality.
For example, iEmergent, one of our partner clients, has a marketing website to show customers what they do. It features information about Mortgage MarketSmart, which is their custom web
application. It requires a paid subscription, is behind a login, and has an entirely different database and backend than the website.
With functionality increasing on websites across the board, the lines are blurry between where a website ends and a web app begins. The terminology is, for the most part, irrelevant. Whatever you call it—custom web app, custom software—the
goals remain the same: to use technology to solve business problems and capture opportunities.
Many businesses don’t need custom web applications. There are thousands of SaaS (software as a service) platforms out there that can get the job done.
But for some businesses, a custom application can be a differentiator—for customers, for internal processes, for the organization as a whole.
It’s important to think about every application you use, both SaaS and custom, strategically. How does each system fit into your overarching software strategy?
Even if a SaaS platform doesn’t meet 100% of your needs, it doesn’t mean you have to jump right to custom application development. There could be an in-between solution: buying an extensible platform as a base and extending it with your customizations.
That’s called buy+build.
See the signs.
When we started in custom software development, desktop apps were central to our work. But through the years, web-based applications and mobile apps have taken over and reduced the use cases for desktop platforms.
But when we talk about “custom software,” we’re talking about a type of system that can come to reality in many different ways: desktop app, responsive web-based application, mobile app, or a combination of those. Much of our custom software development these days is building custom web applications. (Read about how it’s all just semantics.)
We recommend clients take a cross-platform approach to software development that involves understanding users and building a system that meets their needs, whether that’s a desktop app, a web-based application, or a mobile app—or all three.
Web apps can help businesses with everything from accounting and project management to customer service and workflows. In some cases, a web app is the business’s product.
Here are some ways web apps help companies work smarter:
Customer Self-service: Online banking systems, appointment scheduling portals, and order management systems —they’re all types of web apps and they all allow customers to complete interactions with a business, on demand.
Internal Project Management: For businesses with custom or unique workflows, off-the-shelf project management tools can be frustrating. Custom web apps for an internal team to manage work can take into account complex rules and exceptions in ways
an existing tool never could.
Software as a Service (SaaS): For many businesses, the web app is the business. The company builds, maintains, and enhances the web app, and customers pay to use it. Everything from Spotify and Netflix to Quickbooks Online and Squarespace can be considered
web app SaaS platforms.
System Integrations: If your business runs on several web apps (most do), system integrations can help
bring the data and functionality of those systems together to improve workflows, decrease rework, and reduce the occurrence of human error.
If you decide a custom web app could set your business apart and help you better serve your customers, there’s a lot to think about before you even consider diving into code.
You should think about:
The goals of the system
What stakeholders and users will want to accomplish
What tech stack to use
How you’ll prioritize features and functionality
What the system’s value is to the organization
What the system’s value us to its users
What you’ll budget for the application, for initial development and for future maintenance
There’s a lot to consider. Learn 11 things to think about for your next web app project:
If you think a custom web app is the right route for you, how do you go about finding a partner to talk through the project and bring your system to life?
There are several different options for outsourcing web app development. You can hire an independent contractor, you can use a staffing company that provides the developers, or you can work with a development company.
You can validate a partner’s expertise by reviewing past projects and customer reviews. And nothing helps you evaluate the fit of a potential partner like getting into a room (even a Zoom room) and having a conversation.
Far Reach is a development partner—we bring a full team to your project to build it and even to support it for the long-run, if needed.
Here’s how we’ve helped clients build custom web apps.
iEmergent provides mortgage forecasts and analytics, and now Mortgage MarketSmart helps lenders visualize and analyze that data.
A custom web application that helps sports teams run digital fundraising campaigns.
The custom Powers Manufacturing uniform builder helps coaches create their perfect uniform and helps Powers save manpower.
Want to dive deeper into custom web applications? Read some of our blog posts on the topic.
Custom web application development is complex, especially when you aren’t entrenched in it daily as we are. A consultation session with our experts can shed light on any questions you may have about how a web app could help your business.
We can help you plan a web application that meets your company’s goals. Let’s talk. No obligations and no strings attached.
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