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Web Application Architecture: Definition, Models, Types, and More

web application architecture
By James Rose. Last Updated September 18, 2023
Web Application Architecture

Web applications are comprised of several components, all coming together to create a functional, seamless online experience for the user. Today, we cannot afford to create web apps that are inefficient with long loading times. The amount of competition out there leaves little room for error. But what does it take to build web application architecture? How can you ensure that you make the right choices in constructing your web-based application to create the best user experience possible? To answer these questions, it helps to know what web application architecture is so you can make an informed decision about how best to go about your project.

What Is a Web-Based Application?

Let’s start with the basics – what is a website application?

A website application (web-based application, website app, etc.) is essentially a software program that runs through an internet browser. That said, it is not the same as a website. A web application is considered interactive while a website is not. A website app contains a variety of interactive aspects, including shopping carts, online forms, file scanning, and email programs.

A great example of a website application would be Google Apps – here is an application run by your browser which contains multiple different functionalities, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, and online storage.

What is Web Application Architecture?

Web application architecture can be defined as the glue that holds a web application together. It’s the framework of a website app and is responsible for the interactions between various application components., including user interfaces, middleware systems, and databases. The general rundown of this web application framework looks like this:

  • A user types in the URL into a browser or searches for it through a search engine such as Google.
  • The browser locates the URL and requests access by sending data from the server to the browser. The requested page is displayed by the browser’s execution.
  • The user views the website and interacts with the webpage.

Website application development must include all the sub-components and be able to perform all of the external application communications for the entire website for it to communicate correctly. It has to deal not only with making sure the process runs smoothly but also in making sure it stays reliable, stable, and secure.

Models of Web-Based Application Components

There are three models of web application development and the model is selected based on the total number of servers and databases needed for a web application, a number that depends on the complexity of the web application. These three possibilities are:

1. One Web Server with One Database

This option is clearly the most simple but it is also the least reliable. A single server and a single database mean that there isn’t anything for your web application to fall back on if the server goes down. If you know anything about technology, you know this a common occurrence. Even though this is an option for web applications, it is rarely used. The only time this option is advisable is when you are running a test model to further learn and understand how to create and run a web application, checking scalability, load balancing, and effectiveness of the interface.

2. Multiple Web Servers with One Database (Stateless Architecture)

Multiple Web Servers

With this option, the web server does not store any data. Instead, when the web browser receives information, it processes it and writes it to the database.  The information is managed outside of the server. To use this option, at least two web servers are required purely to avoid complete failure, which is a risk of using just one web server. If one web server crashes, all requests are redirected to the remaining web server.

3. Multiple Web Servers with Multiple Databases

This is the ideal option when choosing a web application framework. Although it is clearly the most complicated, there is no single point of failure for either the web server or the database which makes it the least risky. With this model, there are two possibilities. You can choose to either create the web application with the same, identical data in all databases or you can distribute the data among them equally. When identical data is stored in all databases, only two databases are required but when data is distributed among databases, more may be required. Either way, DBMS normalization is used with both options. When more than five web servers or databases are needed, installing load balancers is advisable.

Types of Web Application Architecture

As we explained, web application architecture is the pattern of interaction between the components of web application and the glue that holds it all together. When it comes to choosing a type of web application architecture, it comes down to how you need the application logic to be distributed when it comes to both the client and server sides.

There are also three options when it comes to web application architecture. These include:

1. Single-Page Applications (SPAs)

Single-page applications are ideal in the way that they prevent interruptions in user experience. This is because SPAs do not require entirely new pages to be loaded every time the user performs a new action. Instead, updated content is provided to the current page without requiring the page to reload. Single-page applications provide the most interactive user experience and are made a reality by AJAX, which is a form of Asynchronous JavaScript and XML.

2. Microservices

The idea behind microservices is breaking down applications into smaller, more digestible pieces so that they’re easier to build and maintain. These small, separately maintained pieces work together to run the application as a whole. Microservices can be incredibly useful in speeding up the process and aren’t dependent on each other. This type of web application architecture is exactly the opposite of the traditional application development, where it is created in one piece.

3. Serverless Architecture

The serverless architecture is one where the web application is hosted by a third-party service so there is no need for server software or hardware management by the development company. The developer consults a third-party cloud infrastructure service provider to outsource the server. This is an ideal option for a company that develops the application and does not wish to support the servers or hardware that they have created to run the web application.

When it comes to web application architecture, it’s important to make sure you’re making the right choices for your project from the ground up. Paying close attention to the model and type of web app architecture you chose determines how your web app runs and what it’s capable of.


James Rose

James is the co-founder of Content Snare - a software platform that helps professionals collect content & files from clients.

Once an automation engineer, his new priority is to help business owners regain their lives, be more productive and get more done in less time.