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Planning a web application.

Launching a web app is a noble ambition to pursue, but your hard work will be in vain if you don’t pay particular attention to how well it performs. Let’s talk about how to plan the launch of a web application.

Modern users are especially sensitive to app responsiveness, and they also expect browser-based software to be easy to access while offering excellent compatibility.

This can all sound intimidating, particularly if you are in the early stages of putting together your latest web app project.

Thankfully there are some steps to take and tools to use which will allow you to launch a web app that looks good, delivers on the promised functionality, and most importantly feels snappy and slick at all times.

Let’s explore the main talking points in this context, and hopefully give you some useful, actionable pointers to take onboard.

Cartoon of man starting to plan the launch of a web application.

Get Serious About Database Performance Monitoring

All web apps need an underlying database to fuel their core feature set, and so of course the responsiveness of the user-facing aspects of the software is largely reliant on the performance of the backend elements.

Lots of developers choose SQL Server as their database platform of choice, and the point to consider here is that this type of solution is only going to give you the results you want if you get serious about tracking its performance.

The appeal of SQL as a database solution is that it can handle concurrent requests, which is obviously advantageous in a web app context. So long as it is operating optimally, the server should cope with the queries fired at it with ease. But as soon as trouble starts brewing, performance can plummet.

You should endeavor to launch an app with a view to continuing to monitor database performance for the long run. That way, you will be alerted to issues with things like index fragmentation, deadlocking, I/O bottlenecks, and more besides before they spiral out of control.

Proactive maintenance of your app’s database will steer you clear of unwanted outages, let alone minor performance hiccups.

This is all the more important when you consider that good response times can make or break the reputation of an app, especially one which is newly launched and still trying to establish itself as a viable option among its target audience.

Reputation and branding are obviously less relevant in the case that the web app is intended for internal use within your organization. But in this case, you should still care about responsiveness and accessibility, because sluggishness can hurt productivity and thus cost your company cash over time.

While it’s possible to scan database performance metrics manually, this is both time-consuming and unnecessary. SQL Server has its own integrated performance monitoring capabilities, but third-party tools expand upon these in a major way. And with the addition of automation, your post-launch web app upkeep will be a relative breeze.

So while you cannot completely escape from the ongoing costs of keeping an app as responsive as possible, there are solutions and strategies to mitigate this and deliver cost benefits in the long term.

Think About Scalability Sooner

Another aspect of web app performance is that if your server resources are overwhelmed by the volumes of requests that they are expected to handle, then even a well-optimized backend will not save you from a slowdown.

This is where a lot of people get caught up in the need to make sure your app is scalable, both from a coding perspective and in terms of the raw hardware powering it.

Creating a web application with paper cutouts.

First, it is worth saying that scalability is definitely better to investigate as soon as possible. However, it can also be unconstructive to go overboard with this aspect of development before you even know whether it will be necessary.

If your budget is not especially flexible, then it might even be better to build your app and allocate resources according to the anticipated workloads at launch, then make adjustments for scalability if it does manage to take off later on.

Otherwise, you might invest time and money in ensuring scalability, only to find that you quickly hit a manageable plateau post-launch, and stay there indefinitely.

Of course, it is easier to embrace scalable app design today, once again thanks to the wealth of third-party tools which are specifically tailored to provide affordable options for projects of all sizes.

Being able to add extra server capacity to cope with a sudden spike in load, then move back to a more cost-conscious package when this dissipates, is just one example of this.

Of course, if your app is only going to be hosted on in-house hardware, then such on-the-fly changes are costlier and more complex to achieve, hence the popularity of cloud hosting in the modern era.

Don’t Skimp On Hosting

Talking of hosting, it is an unavoidable fact that the approach you take will be crucial in either making your web app seem speedy and user-friendly or a laggy mess.

We have touched on the option to outsource hosting to third-party vendors, and it is definitely a good idea to avoid being cheap on this aspect of your backend. Likewise, if you select a fully managed package, you can offload a lot of the admin to an organization that is better equipped to stay on top of maintenance duties and even improve security.

Aside from picking a reputable hosting solution for your web app, you also need to look into things like the reliability and resilience of the infrastructure, as well as the geographic location of the datacenters that will house the hardware itself.

High availability hosting is preferable for mission-critical apps, since if you have a low tolerance for unplanned outages then you will want your software to be up to the task. Availability rates, usually expressed as a percentage, can be misleading, because even if 99% uptime is promised, in a year this will potentially equate to days of downtime.

From a location perspective, app responsiveness will be lessened if a vendor’s infrastructure is in a far-flung place that could result in higher latency and a worse user experience. Top hosting services should be able to account for this, but it should not be taken for granted by their customers.

Server room interior in datacenter.

Minimize Bloat

Finally, think about whether web app performance will be compromised by a combination of poorly optimized and streamlined code, along with an excess of plugins and superfluous elements within the wider site that houses it.

You might want to go all-out with flashy CSS elements and JavaScript components, for example, but this could mean that it takes longer for the app to initiate, and could even create performance and compatibility issues in certain browsers and devices. Instead, aim to reduce bloat and keep your site lean, mean, and manageable.

If in doubt, a thorough approach to testing your app both pre and post-launch will stand you in good stead. And even if your own internal testing does not throw up evidence of subpar responsiveness, you can bet that users will be quick to alert you to any issues once it goes live. So mix internal monitoring with external feedback and your app should be primed to make a splash for all the right reasons.

Author Bio: Jessica Perkins

A growth hacker at heart, Jess helps SaaS companies rapidly scale their inbound leads through lean marketing strategies. She views content marketing and advertising as the perfect concoction of growth and loves to write about her insights and experiences.