Main Thoughts

  • Nowadays, the most significant Web development challenges are scalability, security, and stable performance.
  • In ensuring Web applications’ scalability, one can use not only Load Balancing, but also other approaches, like using multi-tier architecture and databases of a certain type.
  • Using a Content Distribution Network (CDN) is the main vehicle of maintaining robust and sufficiently fast system performance.
  • To solve security-related Web development challenges, one should use safe coding practices like OWASP, strong conventional passwords, two-factor authentication, advanced Face Recognition with the right anti-spoofing protection and Biometric Identity Verification methods.
  • Using Biometric methods like Iris Recognition or Voice Recognition dramatically enhances the quality of the security combination you use to protect access to your Web application.


Web development is constantly evolving at a staggering rate, creating many new opportunities and making the increasingly diverse related choices all the more difficult.

The fast pace of change continually impacts the existing development approaches and creates new scalability and security requirements and new means to respond to them. The need to opt for the right platforms and technologies and to choose the more suitable architecture design solutions makes it necessary to involve seasoned IT consultants, who can secure your strategic choices and optimally shape your app.

What are the main Web application development challenges you need to effectively deal with when developing something beyond a relatively simple website?

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Ensuring Scalability of Web Applications

Nothing can hamper the growth of a Web application and derail the related business plans as a lack of scalability. The inability to add features,a larger number of users, roles, or some other attributes can first become a nuisance and then create a snowball effect.

To prevent a Web application from reaching any of its limits, your Web developers must ensure its horizontal (adding more nodes), diagonal (replicating the current nodes as are), and vertical (increasing the RAM, CPU, or some other capacity of the existing nodes) scalability during the Web development process.

In Web development, scalability can be ensured using several approaches, and it is always best to use a combination thereof.

The choice of software architecture can be fundamentally important here. For greater overall scalability, one should pick a multi-tier software architecture, i.e. one that consists of a Web server tier, an application tier, and a database tier. Having three separate tiers allows replacing any of the software or hardware components for any of these tiers without having to overhaul the entire solution. By the same token, it is much easier to scale some part of a microservices-based architecture than that of a monolithic solution.

When it deals with larger-sized modular applications, it makes sense to take an API-centric approach. When regarded as a fundamental component of your application, APIs can allow you to scale only the required part of the solution. You can also use API gateways to scale separate functions through the corresponding API endpoints.

Database design can play a role in the scalability of Web applications too. NoSQL databases store data in multiple nodes and perform the required computations within the corresponding node. This trait of NoSQL databases helps scale a Web application without extending the response time for user queries.

One of the biggest scalability issues in Web development is the inability of a Web application to support a growing number of users. Basically, there are two options here: use Load Balancing, or opt for Cloud Computing.

Load balancing is a technique that allows one to use multiple backend instances. You can add such instances gradually, one by one, as the number of your users grows.

Cloud Computing allows using the calculation capacity of a Cloud provider and this way provides virtually limitless scalability.

Overall, Cloud Computing is a less cumbersome option, as with Load Balancing you need to buy more hardware and conduct load testing to measure the newly added capacity.

Ensuring High Performance of Web Applications

Modern Web applications need to serve large audiences, support large numbers of concurrent users, and perform unfailingly and fast enough to be in sync with the competition and today’s short attention spans.

One of the major and more common problems here is traffic spikes. Caused by various reasons, including viral digital content, substantial software updates, and hacking attempts, traffic spikes can be a very major reason for performance flops and the resulting user frustration.

The techniques to deal with traffic spikes include image optimization by reducing the image resolution (for example, to the more recent WebM and WebP formats), ZIP file compression and file unpacking on the user’s side, and other “tactical” means. Simultaneously, more strategic and effective solutions exist, and one must be aware of them yet at the early stages of the Web development process. What are these solutions?

First off, one can use a Content Distribution Network (CDN) – a geographically distributed network of servers. The servers a CDN comprises share the content load and cache the content. Each of these servers can be tasked with serving a different content type-specific queue, for example, an image or video queue. All this will allow making the stored content a lot more accessible during traffic surges.

Another fundamental approach to counter traffic spikes is using load balancing. Unlike a CDN, load balancing allows alleviating the traffic load, and not the content load.

In a vast number of instances (in particular, when, for some reason, one cannot use Cloud Computing), using load balancing is indispensable. However, the need to use Load Balancing to stagger an excessive amount of traffic creates another problem that affects system performance – that of poor load distribution.

When a solution uses several servers to process client requests, it also needs to use a load balancer to distribute the load and prevent overloading one of the servers. To stagger this load, a load balancer needs to attribute certain weights to the resources it is managing. If a load balancer is configured to assign a fixed weight to different resources, the system performance usually degrades.

To be able to efficiently use load balancing, one needs to implement resource-type specific balance loads. This requires some additional effort, time, and resources. The load balancer must also always have high availability.

Ensuring Security in Web Applications

Fraud is increasingly rife and hacking attempts are never on the wane. New types of fraudulent activities, like for example, scams with 3D masks, have come into being of late. All this signals the need for an even greater and more diverse security measures in the development of Web applications. These measures need to be implemented on several different levels, and should start with secure coding practices.

The well-known standard secure coding practices include OWASP secure coding practices or SEI Cert Coding practices. They span a number of areas in the development of Web applications (for instance, OWASP covers a total of 14 areas) and list the security requirements that relate to them. For example, the Security by Design section of the OWASP practices states that the security-first approach must be taken at all times even if it negatively impacts the development speed, while the Access Control section stipulates that the “default deny” approach to sensitive data should be adhered to.

It is necessary to implement Role-based access control (ROA), which means that only users with corresponding access privileges are entitled to gain access to some parts of the application and any of its sensitive data.

As we have mentioned before, for scalability reasons, it makes sense to opt for multi-tier software architecture. However, under this option, the components on the different layers need to interact with one another, which may create certain vulnerabilities too. Because of this, one should secure such interactions between the different tiers using IP validation, the Kerberos protocol, or Mutual SSL authentication.

As hacking and fraudulent attempts to take over accounts grow more and more sophisticated, less sophisticated user authentication becomes a serious hazard.

In addition to the password composition rules, imposed by OWASP (we, in turn, would recommend no less than 13 characters, including capitals, symbols, and digits), as an absolute minimum, one must use two-factor authentication (2FA).

However, it is essential to know that the robustness of a two-factor combination to a significant extent depends on the second factor and not all of them are equal. For example, the wide-spread two-factor authentication with a SMS as a second factor is less reliable than that with a call to the client’s mobile device.

Over recent years, the growing need to secure access to Web applications more reliably has given rise to several advanced user authentication technologies. In particular, they include several Biometrics techniques (Fingerprint Scanning, Iris Recognition, Voice Recognition, and Vein Recognition) and a technique called Face Recognition that scans the traits of a human face to verify identity.

It should be said that options like 2FA with a client selfie can hardly be regarded as a serious means of securing access to a Web application. As to the other variations of Face Recognition, one can only opt for Face Recognition apps that have strong protection against advanced presentation attacks, like spoofing attacks with replayed videos, displayed images, 3D masks, and AI deep fakes.

While advanced Face Recognition systems are generally capable of detecting the former two by using convolutional neural network models (CNN models), 3D masks and AI deep fakes are a lot more insidious. For example, to be able to detect a 3D mask, a Face Recognition app must be fitted out with an even more sophisticated detection feature, for example, with an infrared depth indication sensor. In any event, prior to making Face Recognition one of your security factors, you should make sure that the solution you choose is protected against all the major spoofing risks.

Unlike Face Recognition, Biometric methods of Fingerprint Scanning, Iris Recognition, Voice Recognition, and Vein Recognition are capable of verifying identity practically unfailingly. Just like Face Recognition, they can seamlessly become a strong factor in a multi-factor security combination (password + Voice Recognition + Face Recognition) that one may want to use for even greater security.

In addition to securing access to a Web application and additionally restricting access to those of its parts that contain sensitive data, one should pay utmost attention to securing this data in its own right.

It often makes sense to split sensitive data into parts and store these parts separately, or to tokenize sensitive data. Besides, all sensitive data at rest must be encrypted using one of the reliable encryption algorithms: AES, Twofish, Blowfish, or RSA. Notably, RSA being an asymmetric encryption algorithm makes it possible to couple it with any of the other three algorithms, as these ones are symmetric. Also, no sensitive data can be stored in configuration files.

Encryption is also required during data transformation and ETL processes. The temporary files that have to be created during these processes should first be encrypted and then erased. Additionally, any logged security-related events, collected for security monitoring purposes, must be encrypted too.

Developing APIs and Performing API Integration

APIs are pieces of code that enable different Web applications to interact with one another. They are essential for virtually any mid- or large-size Web application that needs to communicate with other systems. The development of APIs follows a somewhat different logic from that of regular Web app development. So, what should one focus on while developing APIs?

First off, all APIs should be kept as succinct and intuitively understandable, as possible, and this is one of the key API-related requirements. It is also highly advisable that your APIs be in keeping with the Representational State Transfer (REST) standard that defines the architectural style for designing networked applications. According to this standard, APIs are to have clear resource-based URLs, use standard HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE), and use HTTP status codes to indicate the outcomes of API requests.

Also, absolutely any APIs must necessarily be well-documented. The API documentation for a Web application must be made easily available to the developers of the applications it can potentially integrate with.

Quite often, the APIs of different systems can use different data formats. This can become a hindrance in API interactions. That is why, prior to performing an API integration, one should look into the existing data formats, and use data-mapping or data transformation tools should any meaningful discrepancies occur.

Ensuring the security of APIs poses another serious challenge. Hackers can use APIs as avenues to penetrate into Web applications. Because of this, it is imperative a Web app’s APIs be protected at least as much as users’ regular access to it. How?

One can use several techniques here. Firstly, one can firewall an API to stave off things like SQL injections and other common threats. It is also necessary to follow the security best practices related to the protection against such common vulnerabilities, as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and cross-site request forgery (CSRF). Besides, one should keep all libraries and dependencies up-to-date.

All the API exchanges can be TLS-encrypted. It’s better still to use two-way TLS encryption. To identify a party accessing an API, one can use basic HTTP user authentication with a User ID and password, an API gateway that allows using an API key for any of the APIs the gateway includes, or a token, supplied by an identity provider (like, for example, OAuth 2).

To provide massive attacks on your system, one can limit the number of incoming messages an API gateway can process per second.

In some instances, it can make sense to restrict access to an API to some specific APIs, users, or applications. Importantly, as far as user access is concerned, it is possible to fit out an API gateway with 2FA. Moreover, in this case too 2FA can include a Biometric method like, for example, Iris Recognition.

Lastly, just like any other software functionality, APIs need to be tested. Moreover, one must necessarily apply several types of testing to ascertain that their different characteristics are up to par. For example, Validation testing is required to check an API’s behavior and efficiency, while Load Testing allows making sure an API is capable of processing the target number of calls within a specified period of time. The other types of testing that need to be applied to APIs are Functional Testing and Security Testing.

DevOps: Keeping Up with Continuous Deployment and Integration

DevOps (Development and Operations) is a software development approach that integrates software development and operations for improved efficiency and increased agility. DevOps allows companies to remove the hurdles between the two areas and seamlessly deliver new functionality continuously.

Unfortunately, the downside is there too. To benefit from DevOps, companies need to overcome a bunch of challenges that often make the change difficult.

One of such challenges is merging the mindsets of engineering and operations teams. While working on different software functions, software engineers tend to try various approaches. This is often misunderstood by the members of the operations team they are working with. The latter may be eager to deploy less mature functionality to keep up the pace of the implementation, which can both affect the quality and create tensions.

Legacy systems pose one more significant challenge. They tend to have a very low integration ability and frequently fail to support the DevOps integration processes. To be able to benefit from DevOps, businesses have to first dispose of their legacy applications. It’s best to replace these applications with systems that have microservice architecture.

The need to perform testing quickly and frequently return the tested code to the development team for bug-fixing creates a significant amount of technical debt. Pressed for time by the pace of the process, the two teams may often be compelled to agree on functionality that contains some persistent bugs. To avoid this, the testing should run in parallel with the development process.

Using DevOps also creates multiple security challenges. For instance, one of them is related to the use of Cloud Technologies. The perimeter of any Cloud infrastructure is quite fuzzy, which significantly broadens the attack surface and makes it difficult to prevent attacks. To solve this challenge, one should integrate tools that perform automated security checks into the CI/CD pipeline. However, as this may often be too time-consuming, one can run a project-wide compliance security check instead on a semi-annual or annual basis.

Some other DevOps challenges include the poor scalability of legacy infrastructures, obsolete practices, version control in test automation, and others.

Ensuring Cross-Browser and Cross-Platform Compatibility

Сross-browser and cross-platform compatibility is a vital requirement for any Web application. The browser types and versions growing in number and diversity have made cross-browser compatibility a challenge for Web developers.

In order to meet this one, Web developers should pay enough attention to HTML/CSS validation (and here validation automation tools are of help). They must ensure layout compatibility by using CSS resets, and use several more best practices, like testing on real devices or implementing outdated browser detection.

Just as important is cross-platform compatibility between Web, iOS and Android apps.

Shifting to Serverless Architecture

Serverless is a development approach that gives software developers the possibility to focus on their software development tasks without the need to maintain and manage the underlying infrastructure. This infrastructure – servers, data storages, and applications is supplied and managed by a Cloud provider that also takes care of the required security measures.

In addition to the readily available and managed infrastructure, Serverless architecture also brings several advantages. More specifically, it gives the ability to improve transparency by breaking an application into smaller parts, allows creating modular apps with independent constituent parts, enables faster deployment, and creates greater flexibility.

Simultaneously, the transition to Serverless architecture creates several challenges. Firstly, you become provider-dependent: the underlying platform’s availability may be influenced by changes to the Cloud provider’s terms and conditions. Secondly, you need to arrange for a separate server to have full control over the security of your application, as the odds are your Cloud provider will use the same server for several clients.

Your software testing may be complicated as it may not always be possible to replicate the production environment.

Additionally, processing lasting workloads can be quite costly as Cloud providers bill for code runtime.

Overall, it should be said that prior to opting for Serverless architecture, business project stakeholders must have a clear idea of the cost framework of this move over the longer haul. For large-scale solutions, the costs can run quite high.

Because of this, both to mitigate the costs and to achieve better technical efficiency, one should involve qualified technical experts, who can decide which part of the functionality should be moved to the Cloud, and which should use the company’s own infrastructure.

Navigating Data Privacy Regulations

To perform the functions they are intended for, Web applications need to contain, import, share, and manage a diverse and growing amount of various data, including sensitive customer data. This has created a range of very stringent requirements Web developers are obliged to adhere to in order to help their clients prevent data breaches. Incidentally, such data breaches can be dramatically costly in accordance with the corresponding regulations, like for example, GDPR.

While designing Web applications, it is necessary to protect any personally identifiable information. Such information can include biometric data, location data, IP addresses, cookies, and more. A Web app is supposed to collect only the amount of data required for the task at hand, and the person whose data is collected is to be aware of the collection process. The data must be kept up-to-date and protected using advanced data protection means, such as data encryption and 2FA.

The need for a comprehensive approach to data privacy and the severity of the penalties that may be imposed in case of a breach make it absolutely essential to look into the matter very closely before starting a Web application development project. It is also preferable to choose a Web development provider that is well-familiar with the related problems and approaches.


Why is Ensuring Security One of the Most Formidable Challenges in Web application development?

Ensuring security is one of the most formidable Web application development challenges because it takes a comprehensive approach and fair knowledge of the modern Web application security means. You need to know how to ensure access security and data security, how to secure APIs, and how to leverage the benefits of Cloud computing for security purposes.

What are the challenges in Web development multi-tier software architecture helps solve?

Multi-tier software architecture helps ensure the scalability of a Web application and thus solve one of the most difficult Web application design challenges. It will allow you to replace single components on any of the tiers instead of having to overhaul the entire application.

Which of the means of securing access to a Web application can be considered to be the most reliable one?

Biometric methods, like, for example, Iris Recognition, are probably the most reliable ones if you need to secure access to a Web app. However, it is still better to use 2FA that combines two different types of security factors, like, for example, a complex enough conventional password and one of the Biometric methods.

Serverless is an approach that has a host of advantages. What are its downsides?

The downsides of Serverless are reliance on the Cloud provider, whose terms and conditions may change, and some security concerns. The latter include a wider attack surface and your Cloud provider running multiple clients’ applications on the same server.

What should one focus on when implementing API integration?

First off, APIs must be made concise and intuitively understandable. Next, they must be thoroughly documented, and this is an important aspect that is often neglected. Also, APIs need to be secured, and along with several other types of QA testing, undergo stringent Security Testing.

What are the most difficult challenges of the Web development process when  it deals with shifting to a Serverless architecture

The two most difficult challenges of the Web development process in this case are splitting the legacy software architecture into microservices and performing data migration. Both these challenges should be solved by eminently qualified IT professionals with extensive experience in the corresponding areas.

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