What are Web Applications?

At Hallnet, one of our core services is bespoke web application development.

But what does that actually mean?

It’s really just another word for software

Applications (or ‘apps’ for short) and software are pretty much interchangeable terms for the same thing.

At a fundamental level, software is a general term that describes computer programs. If you’ve used a computer then the idea of software/programs will be familiar to you.
Word, Excel & Outlook are examples of commonly used programs. You have to install them, either from a disc or after downloading from the web (or they may be preinstalled when you buy the computer). After installation, the programs then sit on your computers hard drive for you to use whenever you need to.
The same is true for a lot of business-related programs. Many businesses already use one or several software programs to run their operations, from simple spreadsheet tools to systems that handle invoicing, stock management, candidate tracking, resourcing and more.
In most cases, these programs will be installed on each of the businesses computers, potentially with a licence for each installation. Maybe they will also have different versions of the software depending on whether they use PC’s, Mac’s or a combination of the two.

But here’s the key difference

Web software takes away the headache of having software installed on individual computers.
When you visit a website, you can visit the same website from anywhere with an internet connection. You didn’t have to “install“ the website first.
Well, web software works in exactly the same way. It lives on the web rather than on your computer.
Instead of opening up the program from your menu, you simply access it on the internet from your favourite web browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.)

So what are the benefits of using the web rather than installed programs?

Well there are probably too many to list but in most cases:

  • No need to install programs on multiple computers (or any in fact)
  • Updates happen in the background so no more updating several copies of the same program.
  • Because the only access requirement is an internet connection, the same web software can be accessed from many devices including desktop PC, Mac, laptops, tablets and smartphones, even when on the move

OK, now I understand what a web application is. What’s the ‘bespoke development’ bit?

We talked about examples such as Excel and Word earlier. These are examples of existing, ‘off-the-shelf’ software. They even have web-based versions themselves now too. In the commercial sector, there are also many hundreds of other examples of generic & industry-specific ‘off-the-shelf’ web software.
In some cases, this might be the perfect solution. These existing systems might do everything you need and work exactly in line with how your business operates.
We say ‘some cases’ though, as in practice, that’s somewhat unlikely.

In most conversations we’ve had with business owners, we’ve found that off-the-shelf solutions:

  • Might do around 50% of the things that you need so the rest is still manual and/or time consuming,
  • Include loads of features that you have to pay for but don’t even use,
  • Often require adapting business processes to fit the software rather than the other way around,
  • Come with hefty licence fees (often on an annual per-user basis),
  • Make change and feature requests almost impossible or extortionately costly.

Bespoke software solves all that. We start from the ground up to create a software solution that works how your business does. Whether it’s a small piece of your process, such as an automated invoicing solution or reporting suite, to a system to manage your entire infrastructure, the end product works the way you want it to and doesn’t include lots of unnecessary, confusing features.

Granted, in terms of costs, building software from scratch will likely involve a larger up-front investment than something ‘off-the-shelf’, however consider the following:

  • No ongoing annual fees
  • No restrictions on volume of users
  • You own the system outright, not a licence to use it
  • New features, process changes and tweaks are simpler to implement
  • These facts alone can provide a much better return on the investment over the medium to longer term.

In addition, there’s no need to go all out straight away. In fact we often suggest a more lean, phased approach. This reduces the initial investment by only addressing particular functionality in phase 1.
Then, while your business uses the shiny new functionality, you can make more informed decisions on what phase 2 should be. In many cases, real-life usage data and insight will often make the functionality somewhat different to what you might have asked for at first. Yet another way to guarantee a system that perfectly complements your business.

Being web-based, this type of software is also perfect for integration with your website(s), taking efficiency to a whole new level. Think of the possibilities of:

  • Website sales feeding directly into your dispatch system & accounting software
  • Online job applications automatically filtered into your candidate tracking software
  • Real-time project or product tracking information available to your customers via your website and so much more...

In conclusion

Every business uses software programs, every day.

Wouldn’t it be great if you owned the software outright, had the flexibility to change how it works and critically, if the software worked exactly how your business does?

Furthermore, wouldn’t it be even better if you could access your software from anywhere, in the office, from home, or even on the move?

And finally, wouldn't it be brilliant if you didn't have to renew your licenses every year and also have to watch the fees increase as your business grows?

The answer is bespoke web applications.

Interested in finding out more?

Why not give us a call and we’ll talk through the options...