Web App Architecture: Components, Layers, and Types

01 DEC 2020
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When you start a new web project, there’s always a question of what architecture to choose. The picked architecture determines all the further logic of developing the app, the interaction of its elements and functionality. Picking the right components is significant for a project’s tech success.

You can learn the fundamentals of web application architecture from this guide. We’ll discuss how the web app architecture works, what components, layers, and models are there.

Table of contents

What Is Web Application Architecture?

Web app architecture basically represents relationships and interactions between such components as user interfaces, transaction processing monitors, databases, and others. The primary goal is to ensure that all elements work together correctly.

The logic is quite straightforward — when a user types an URL into the browser and hits ‘enter’, the browser makes a request to a server. The server responds and then shows the required web page.

All these components create a web application architecture.

How Does System Architecture for Web Application Work?

All applications consist of two parts — client (front-end) and server (back-end).

The front-end is a visual part of the app. Users can see an interface and interact with it. The client-side code responds to the users’ actions. The back-end isn’t visual for users, yet makes their requests work. It handles the business logic and responds to HTTP requests.

So when you enter your credentials into a registration form, you deal with the front-end, but once you hit ‘enter’ and get signed up — it’s the back-end that makes it work.

Working correctly, client and server sides make up a web application software architecture.

Web application architecture

How does a web application architecture work?

Layers and Components of Web Application Architecture

To better understand web application architecture, you should dive into its components and layers. Web applications separate their primary functions into layers. It allows replacing or upgrading each layer independently.

Basis Components of Web Application Architecture

Web architecture has user interface components and structural components. The last ones are also divided into client-side and server-side.

User interface components

The user interface components stand for all the interface elements like activity logs, dashboards, notifications, settings, and more. They’re a part of the web app’s interface layout.

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Structural components

Structural components consist of client and server sides:

  • The client component is developed with HTML, CSS, or JavaScript. Web browsers run the code and convert it into the interface, so there is no need for an operating system adjustment.
  • As for the server component, it’s built with Java, .Net, NodeJS, Python, and other programming languages. The server consists of two parts — app logic and database. The app logic is the control center of the web app. The database is responsible for storing the information (like your login credentials).

Layers of Web App Architecture

There are four common layers of web applications:

  • Presentation layer (PL)
  • Data service layer (DSL)
  • Business logic layer (BLL)
  • Data access layer (DAL)

Presentation layer

PL displays the user interface and makes user interaction more straightforward. The presentation layer has UI components that render and show data for users. There are also user process components that set the user interactions. PL provides all the required information to the client side. The primary goal of the Presentation layer is to get input data, process users’ requests, send them to data service, and show the results.

Business logic layer

BLL is responsible for the proper data exchange. This layer defines the logic for business operations and rules. Logging in the website is an example of a business logic layer.

Data service layer

DSL transmits data processed by the Business logic layer to the Presentation layer. This layer guarantees data security, isolating the business logic from the client side.

Data access layer

DAL offers simplified access to data stored in persistent storages like binary and XML files. Data access layer also manages CRUD operations — create, read, update, delete.

Layers of web app architecture

Layers of web app architecture

Types of Web Application Architecture

It’s possible to single out several types of web application architecture, depending on how the app logic is distributed among the client and server sides. The most common web application architectures are:

  • Single-page web apps
  • Multi-page web apps
  • Microservices architecture
  • Serverless architecture
  • Progressive web apps

Let’s figure out the details of each type.

Single-Page App or SPA

SPA stands for a website or a web app that loads all the required information when you enter the page. Single-page apps have one significant benefit — they deliver an amazing user experience since users don’t experience web pages reloading.

It’s common to develop single-page web apps using JavaScript frameworks like Angular, React, and others.

Well-known SPAs: Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Slack

Multi-Page App or MPA

Multi-page applications are more popular on the Internet since all the websites used to be MPA in the past.

These days, companies choose MPAs if their website is pretty large (like eBay). Such solutions reload a web page to load or send information from/to a server via the users’ browsers.

Well-known MPAs: eBay, Amazon

Single-page application vs. multi-page application? There are multi-page and single-page application disadvantages and advantages.

Microservices Architecture

To understand microservices architecture, it’s better to compare it with the monolithic model.

The traditional monolithic architecture of a web application consists of three parts — a database, a client-side, and a server-side. It means that back-end and front-end logic just like other background tasks are generated in one codebase. To change or update the app component, software engineers have to rewrite the whole application.

As for microservices, this approach lets developers create a web app from a set of small services. Developers create and deploy each component separately.

Microservices architecture is beneficial for large and complex projects since each service can be changed without damage for other blocks. So if you needed to update a payment logic, you wouldn’t have to stop the website’s work for a while.

Well-known projects: Netflix, Uber, Spotify, PayPal

Types of web application architecture

Monolithic vs. microservices

Serverless Architecture

This type of web app architecture makes developers use a cloud infrastructure from third-party service providers like Amazon and Microsoft.

What does it mean?

To keep a web app on the Internet, developers should manage a server infrastructure (virtual or physical), an operating system, and other server-related hosting processes. Cloud providers like Amazon or Microsoft offer virtual servers that dynamically manage the allocation of machine resources.

In other words, if your app experiences a huge traffic spike your servers aren’t ready for, the app won’t be down.

Progressive Web Apps or PWA

One of the primary trends in web app development of the last years is progressive web applications. They are web-based solutions designed to act like native apps on mobile devices. PWAs offer push notifications, offline access, and an opportunity to install an app to your home screen.

To make a PWA, developers use ‘web programming languages’ like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. If the app needs access to devices' features, developers use extra APIs — NFC API, Geolocation API, Bluetooth API, and others.

Well-known PWAs: Uber, Starbucks, Pinterest

What are the PWA websites? We’ve explained how a progressive web app works, its advantages, and limitations.

How to Design Architecture for Web Application

A high-quality web app architecture makes the development process more efficient and straightforward. The web app with an elaborate architecture is easier to scale, modify, test, and debug.

There are some common criteria for a well-built web application architecture:

  • Efficiency
  • Flexibility
  • Extensibility
  • Compliance with the open-closed principle
  • Scalability of the development process
  • Easy to test
  • Reusability
  • Well-structured and readable code

Bottom Line

As you can see, web application architecture has a lot of peculiarities. I’ve covered only basics like components, layers, and types.

If you want to create a web app, we can assist you. Cleveroad is a software development company located in Eastern Europe (Ukraine). Our software engineering team has in-depth background in developing web applications of all architecture types.

Feel free to check our portfolio to find out more about our previous projects and read what our clients think about us on Clutch or GoodFirms.

Questions about web architecture?

Contact our development team to get consulted. It’s free of charge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Web app architecture basically represents relationships and interactions between such components as user interfaces, transaction processing monitors, databases, and others. The primary goal is to ensure that all elements work together correctly.

All applications consist of two parts — client (front-end) and server (back-end).

The front-end is a visual part of the app. Users can see an interface and interact with it.

The client-side code responds to the users’ actions. The back-end isn’t visual for users, yet makes their requests work. It handles the business logic and responds to HTTP requests.

Web architecture has UI/UX and structural components.

  • UI/UX components. UI/UX components stand for all the elements included in the interface like activity logs, dashboards, notifications, settings, and more.
  • Structural components. Structural components consist of client and server sides.
  • Single-page web apps
  • Multi-page web apps
  • Microservices architecture
  • Serverless architecture
  • Progressive web apps

There are several web app architecture types:

  • Single-page web apps
  • Multi-page web apps
  • Microservices architecture
  • Serverless architecture
  • Progressive web apps

To choose the right type of web app architecture, you need to consider your project requirements and business goals.

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Comments

EM
Edward Molstad
07.12.2020 at 12:20

Web application architecture is complicated. Thanks for sharing useful information in simple words. I liked your clear explanations and examples. You've made this topic straightforward.

TF
Troy Fitzpatrick
12.12.2020 at 04:08

thanks)

EW
Everett Ward
11.12.2020 at 09:07

Useful text

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