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Crafting Apps with Web Technologies: Building with HTML, CSS, and JS

Published datePublished: May 29, 2024 ViewsViews: 165
Shanal Aggarwal

Shanal Aggarwal

Chief Commercial & Customer Success Officer
Shanal is a passionate advocate for crafting innovative solutions that address real-world challenges and consistently deliver outstanding results for TechAhead's clients. As a strategic and creative leader, he specializes in driving revenue expansion, developing client-focused solutions, pioneering product innovations, and ensuring seamless program management.
Crafting Apps with Web Technologies: Building with HTML, CSS, and JS

Among multiple approaches to cross-platform app development, building progressing web apps is becoming more popular. While the PWA market was valued at $1.13 billion in 2019, it is expected to reach $10.44 billion by the end of 2027, says Emergen Research

Businesses are focusing more on developing apps using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JS, due to the convenience in the development, testing, deployment, and maintenance phases.

HTML or Hyper Text Markup Language is used to build the skeleton of the app, whereas CSS or Cascading Style Sheets is used to customize the appearance of the app. JS or JavaScript is a programming language that handles the functionality.

In this blog, we will cover the basics of app development using web technologies and discuss how JavaScript can be leveraged to develop mobile or desktop apps. Let’s begin with some key facts.

Quick Facts and Stats

Quick Facts and Stats
  • PWAs have 36% more conversion than native apps.
  • The number of daily visitors at Kubota grew by 192% after launching the e-commerce PWA. 
  • Starbucks has seen double the daily active users after their PWA has been launched. 
  • The PWA of ZEE5 is 3 times faster and has reduced 50% of the buffering time.

Can I Build an App with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript?

Can I Build an App with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript?

Most of the websites we see on the internet use web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build the structure, appearance, and functionality. Does it mean you can build an app with the web technologies mentioned above? 

The answer depends on the type of app you want to build. For example, you might think of building a native app for Android or iOS. Developing such apps requires platform-specific languages and frameworks dedicated to those operating systems. You can’t build native iOS or Android apps using these web technologies.

But if you want to build cross-platform apps, especially progressive web apps, you can do that using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Progressive web apps are cross-platform, meaning they can run on multiple platforms. 

You can run a progressive web app on your desktop browsers, Android browsers, or even iOS browsers. Let us explain the capabilities of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in app development.

  • HTML: It works as the backbone of the app content and provides the necessary structure. HTML also handles user inputs in an app, such as buttons, text fields, etc. Multimedia and hyperlinks are also controlled using the HTML5 app development process.
  • CSS: The visual presentation of the app is done with CSS. It is used to define various visual properties of the app, such as colors, fonts, etc. CSS3 app development is also used to make apps responsive, meaning the app interface can change depending on the device or screen size.
  • JavaScript: This programming language makes apps dynamic and interactive through event handling, DOM manipulation, client-side validation, etc. Various JavaScript app development frameworks are used to build high-performance web apps. 

You can also read Exploring the JavaScript vs Other Languages Debate: A Balanced Perspective for Backend Development.

some examples of popular apps built with these web technologies below.

1. Uber

The first PWA of Uber came to light in 2017. Later in 2019, Uber rebuilt their PWA to give users a more accessible platform, regardless of their devices and internet speed. This app uses HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to provide a user-friendly and super-fast app.

2. MakeMyTrip

This travel agency based in India made its PWS using HTML, CSS, and JS to reduce the bounce rate. After the launch of their app, the page loading time was reduced by 38%. Also, the conversion rate was 3 times higher than before.

3. Pinterest

Pinterest wanted to enhance the web experience for its users and built its web app using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The new web app has been able to increase user engagement by 60%.

Understanding Mobile App Development with HTML and CSS

Understanding Mobile App Development with HTML and CSS

Even though HTML and CSS are traditionally linked with web development, they have become popular for HTML5 mobile app development in recent times. Especially when it comes to responsive web app development or front-end app development, HTML and CSS are super useful. 

Let’s explore the feasibility of HTML and CSS for mobile app development.

  • Cross-platform Compatibility: Developers can write HTML or CSS codes once and use them for all platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, etc.
  • Faster Development and Iteration: Web apps made with HTML or CSS can be modified quickly. Developers can experiment with multiple layouts or interfaces.
  • Web Apps Provide Seamless Updates: Users don’t need to download updates for web apps. Also, there is no downtime for pushing the updates to the server side.
  • Performance Considerations: Even though web apps provide highly responsive interfaces, they might not outperform native apps. Graphic-heavy apps or complex apps still need native development.

Building apps with HTML, CSS, JS comes with the following advantages and limitations. 

Developing apps using HTML, CSS, and JS offers the following benefits

Advantages:

  1. These apps target all users irrespective of their devices, operating systems, or browsers. 
  2. Web-based app creation is more responsive. These apps will remain responsive for screen dimensions that are yet to come.
  3. Users don’t need to download or install these apps on their devices. So, they can save memory space.
  4. Mobile app with HTML, CSS, JS are more secure as they use the HTTPS protocol. 
  5. Users can save the app icons, just like installing native apps, so that they can access the web apps faster and easier.

Limitations:

  1. HTML/CSS/JS app building drains battery higher than native apps. 
  2. As progressive web apps aren’t available on platform-specific app stores, companies may struggle to get traffic.
  3. Apps built with HTML, CSS, and JS might fail to access all hardware components.

Techniques for Optimizing Mobile App Performance with HTML and CSS

Techniques for Optimizing Mobile App Performance with HTML and CSS

Reducing loading times and enhancing user experiences are the main challenges of HTML/CSS/JS app design. You can use the following techniques to optimize the mobile app performance.

  • Reducing File Sizes: Making the HTML, CSS, and JS files as small as possible will reduce the rendering time.
  • Asynchronous Loading: In this method, the resources are loaded only as required. It helps web apps load faster.
  • Mobile-Friendly Layouts: Most users prefer using apps on their smartphones or tablets. Developers should focus on making the app layout mobile-friendly and highly responsive.
  • Using Optimized Resources: Optimizing media files can greatly impact the loading time and smoothness of web apps.
  • JS Optimization: Removing redundant scripts or graphic-heavy styles can improve the performance of the apps.

Leveraging JavaScript for Mobile App Development

Leveraging JavaScript for Mobile App Development

JavaScript is one of the world’s top programming languages. Many mobile app development frameworks are based on this language. Let’s discuss the role of JavaScript in mobile app development for beginners.

  • With JavaScript, mobile apps can have more interactive elements, which increases user engagement.
  • A large portion of data processing is done on the client side, thus improving the responsiveness.
  • JavaScript-based mobile apps handle asynchronous operations that are more efficient.
  • JavaScript integrates well with existing web technologies.

Advantages of Using JavaScript for Mobile App Development

Advantages of Using JavaScript for Mobile App Development

The following advantages make beginner-friendly app development popular using JavaScript.

  1. JavaScript has a huge community with ample resources. So, it is easier for developers to build apps using JavaScript.
  2. Various JavaScript frameworks and libraries enable developers to build apps faster.
  3. Apps built with JavaScript display native-like performance.
  4. The ecosystem is enriched with various tools and components necessary for development.
Popular Frameworks and Libraries for Mobile App Development with JavaScript

You might have heard about many of these JavaScript frameworks and libraries. Here is a quick overview.

  1. React Native: It is one of the most popular JavaScript frameworks for building mobile apps, especially cross-platform apps. This framework is backed by Facebook and has great community support.
  2. Ionic: With all the necessary UI components, Ionic is a popular framework for building mobile apps using JavaScript.
  3. NativeScript: This open-source framework is also based on JavaScript. Developers can access native APIs using this framework.

Exploring Desktop App Development with JavaScript

As HTML, CSS, and JS are more commonly used for web development, they provide a convenience for building desktop apps. Here is a detailed overview of desktop app development with JavaScript.

JavaScript has both client-side and server-side frameworks for building responsive and interactive desktop apps. For example, Electron, Node.js, etc., are popular JavaScript frameworks for building desktop apps. 

The biggest benefit of using JavaScript for desktop apps is its cross-platform compatibility. Apps built using JavaScript can run on multiple platforms, such as Windows, Linux, macOS, etc. These applications can also be integrated with other web technologies.

Web-based vs. Native Desktop Apps

Exploring Desktop App Development with JavaScript

The comparison between these two types of apps will help you decide which way to choose.

  • Web-based apps have cross-platform compatibility. On the other hand, native desktop apps are platform-specific.
  • The development cycle is much faster for web-based apps as a single codebase can be reused. Native development is a lengthy process.
  • Native desktop apps perform much better than web-based apps, especially when the apps are graphic-heavy. Web-based apps have some limitations regarding performance.
  • Web-based apps may not be able to access all the native features like native desktop apps.

Tools and Frameworks for Building Desktop Apps with JavaScript

  • Electron: This is an open-source framework that developers use to build native-like desktop apps. 
  • React Native for Desktop: It is an extension of the React Native framework dedicated to desktop app development.
  • Proton Native: This JavaScript library is lightweight compared to the previous frameworks, offering more convenience in desktop development.

How to Make a Simple Mobile App Using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

How to Make a Simple Mobile App Using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

DIY app development with HTML, CSS, JS will require intermediate-level expertise in these languages. You might ask, how long does it take to fully learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript? It depends on how quickly you can learn new things. It will take about 1 year to learn HTML, CSS, and JS to a level where you can build apps on your own. Here is our HTML, CSS, JS app creation guide.

  • Step 1: Install an IDE and organize your project files.
  • Step 2: Create an HTML file and write the necessary HTML codes to structure your app. Connect the file to CSS and JS files.
  • Step 3: Style your app and make it responsive using CSS.
  • Step 4: Write JS codes to make the app interactive and dynamic.
  • Step 5: Test and debug the app.
  • Step 6: Deploy the app to a web server and package it as a PWA.

So, can a beginner make an app following these steps? The answer is no. Beginners might not be able to execute all the steps as expected.

Tips for Designing and Developing a User-Friendly Mobile App Interface

  1. Don’t put too much text or unnecessary elements in the app.
  2. Make the buttons larger so that users can tap the buttons easily.
  3. Position the interactive elements considering the finger placement of users.
  4. Keep the design language consistent throughout the app.

Testing and Debugging Techniques for Mobile App Development

Let us elaborate on the testing and debugging step mentioned in the above HTML/CSS/JS app development tutorial.

  • Use the developer tools in the browser to test and debug the apps.
  • Run unit tests, integration tests, and other automated testing processes.
  • Test the apps with real users to get feedback on the user experience.
  • Perform cross-browser testing, mobile emulator testing, and remote debugging.

Do I Need HTML and CSS for App Development?

Do I Need HTML and CSS for App Development

The answer lies in the nature of your project and other factors, such as compatibility, functionality, etc. Even though HTML and CSS seem less relevant for mobile app development, they can still be beneficial for creating appealing designs.

But if you are in search of alternative approaches, we can introduce you to some languages and frameworks like Swift, Kotlin, etc. For hybrid development, you can use frameworks like React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, etc. These frameworks allow you to write reusable codes and still leverage native UI components.

Still, HTML and CSS can help businesses in rapid prototyping while using fewer resources for app development. You might wonder, do companies still use HTML and CSS? Yes, a lot of companies still use these languages to create native-like apps that run on various platforms.

Exploring HTML Compatibility with iOS

Exploring HTML Compatibility with iOS

When you design your apps to be compatible with most devices or platforms, they will be compatible with iOS. You just need to follow the iOS Human Interface Guidelines to ensure the app content is perfectly shown on the browser. 

The WebKit engine on iOS devices is compatible with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Apple Developer also suggests some techniques for optimizing your apps.

  • Don’t miss the DOCTYPE declaration to the HTML.
  • Organize your HTML, CSS, and JS files separately for easier code management.
  • Write well-structured and semantically perfect HTML code.
  • Write browser-independent code.

Can HTML, CSS, and JavaScript Together Be Used for App Development?

Can HTML, CSS, and JavaScript Together Be Used for App Development

These three elements form a powerful tech stack to build versatile applications. Here is how to integrate these languages for comprehensive app development.

Lay the structural foundation of the app by defining every element of the app clearly and precisely. Then, use CSS to design a visually appealing app following the brand guidelines. Finally, address input handling, event handling, DOM manipulation, and other dynamic functionalities using JavaScript.

Though this stack provides better compatibility, accessibility, and a richer ecosystem, the main challenge is optimizing the app’s performance. Choosing the right frameworks may help developers in this case.

Below are some examples of apps built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript stack.

  • Airbnb: Both the website and the mobile app of Airbnb have been created using this stack. Its notable features include search functionality, easy booking, and interactive maps.
  • Slack: It is a platform for collaborating with your teammates, colleagues, and more. Its desktop app is built using HTML, CSS, JS, and Electron framework.
  • Trello: This project management app has a kanban-style interface and is made with HTML, CSS, and JS.

FAQs

You should check out the answers to some common questions regarding HTML, CSS, and JS development to enlighten yourself.

Q: Is HTML, CSS, and JavaScript enough to get a job?

If you want an entry-level job, such as a Junior Developer, HTML, CSS, and JS might be enough. But you need to be familiar with popular frameworks and libraries to get mid-level jobs.

Q: Can you make a web app with just JavaScript?

Yes. It is possible to make a web app with just JavaScript as it has frameworks for both the front end and the back end. No-code app development with HTML/CSS/JS is also possible.

Q: Can I create my own app for free?

You might be able to create your own app for free using some app builders. However, web app development without coding might not give the expected result.

Q: How much does it cost to build an app?

The cost to build an app depends on the features, functionality, UI design, and other factors. The cost can be anywhere between $10,000 and $300,000.

Q: What should I learn first: HTML, CSS, or JavaScript?

As HTML is the base of web apps, you should learn it first. Then, learn CSS to design your apps and JavaScript to make your apps functional.

Q: Is HTML, CSS, and JavaScript worth learning in 2024?

Of course. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is a versatile stack that can help you go a long way. You can choose a front-end, back-end, or full-stack career depending on your learning path.

Q: Is JavaScript good for mobile development?

Obviously! JavaScript has many useful frameworks and libraries for mobile app development. It also reduces the development cost and enhances app compatibility.

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