Not many areas feature as much innovation as the area of app development. Recently we explored various mobile app trends from social media to virtual experiences. App development has become more innovative over time—and we have effective technologies and platforms helping us develop, test, and release successful applications.

Most companies think of creating a B2B native app without considering other options available – namely, the web app. With the ever-evolving landscape of online tech solutions, the rise of web apps is replacing that of native apps.

Web apps are cheaper to develop, more flexible, and have lower maintenance costs. They can have faster download times and are very easy to update. They adapt to whichever device users view them on. They are not native to a particular system and don’t need to be downloaded or installed.

However, newer trends in the market continuously impact web app success. Developers are always looking ahead to discover new technologies and trends. For many companies, keeping up with these developments can prove to be a problem. That’s why we’ve outlined some of the key trends relevant to 2021 and what they mean for developers in terms of web app testing.

Progressive Web App development

While a new trend for 2021, this is not a new term. It’s been over 13 years since Steve Jobs initially presented the idea of web apps “that look exactly and behave exactly like native apps,” and the term “PWA” has been around for more than five years.

PWAs are revolutionizing the user experience of B2B platforms through recreating the in-app experience within a browser. The main objective of PWAs is to bring a mobile-app-like experience to users across all devices without having to download it.

PWAs enable websites to load quickly and still work offline. They are also more interactive and responsive. Some of the industry’s biggest names, such as Amazon, Twitter, and Forbes, are combining native and web applications to increase conversions and decrease bounce rates.

So what does this trend mean for web app developers?

With a limited budget, PWA can be an excellent alternative. There’s no need to write code for different platforms, no need to upload an application to the store. At the same time, we need to remember that not all OS and devices support all PWA features.

PWA’s are just like all other applications, meaning functional testing should be an essential part of any testing strategy. However, there are specific non-functional testing PWA basics that need to be tested.

  • Responsiveness: ensure the app easily adapts to different devices and screen sizes to display content correctly.
  • Performance testing: test for a quick launch, smooth scrolling, and instant page transitions.
  • Cross-browser testing: you should test the UI and functionality on major browsers. Each browser has its engine that renders the page, plus there are limitations in PWA support.
  • Offline support: test to ensure PWA supports offline and low-quality networks both.

Integrated e-commerce

An evolution of B2B consumerization is upon us. In the US, B2B e-commerce transactions are expected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023. Business users expect a familiar and user-friendly shopping experience they recognize from regular online shops and mobile applications.

Due to job losses caused by COVID-19, many B2B companies were forced to become creative. In most cases, these innovations took the form of integrations with application programming interfaces, making it possible to connect platforms and data. This enabled brands and distributors to provide retailers with accurate inventory info, supply chain details, and other vital business data.

So what does this trend mean for web app developers?

In this era of connectivity, every business looks for easier ways to complete the transaction. If you are a B2B e-commerce based business owner, you know the importance of successful conversions.

As per a report by Baymard Institute, around 70 percent of all online shopping carts are abandoned. B2C companies have already figured out that (as the same study also shows) by solving checkout usability issues, there can be a 35 percent increase in the average conversion rate. Thankfully, some tests can help turn B2B-centric carts into completed transactions:

  • Usability testing: from app response time to ease of use and updated product availability, usability testing can help optimize online stores.
  • Payments testing: no one wants a complicated checkout procedure. Simple and effective payment functionalities are paramount and need to be thoroughly tested to eliminate any bugs or anomalies that can prevent customers from completing their orders.
  • Security: trust issues around payment gateways keep most consumers from finalizing an order. Meticulously test from a hacker’s perspective to identify possible threats and vulnerabilities.

Read how an eCommerce giant maintains a 4.9+ app store rating by conducting payments testing throughout the world.

AI-Powered Chatbots

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (MI) solutions are increasingly being adopted in mid to large-sized B2C sites, aiding in better customer service and personalized offers. Huge B2C companies already use the technology to serve their customers — chatbots inside Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Skype are just a few examples.

In B2B environments, AI is predominantly used by the most prominent players. However, more mid-sized companies are also taking advantage of its benefits, including product search, customer service, or product recommendations.

The significant advancement of AI and machine learning technology means bots are becoming more self-learning and will easily match a particular user’s needs and behaviors. AI-based bots allow 24/7 problem-solving potential, human-like experience, and deep consumer behavior analytics.

So what does this trend mean for web app developers?

Assess your current business workflows to determine if there is an avenue to begin AI/ML adoption. Many of your existing business processes can be automated with AI’s help to free up human resources for other tasks.

  • Speech recognition tests: speech recognition techniques help ensure chatbots have a more fluid, human-like interaction with users.
  • Data quality checks: use automated data quality checks to find any issues of correctness, completeness, and appropriateness of data quality and formatting
  • Regression testing: with cognitive learning and algorithms, regression testing can help find errors in data relationships between entities

Low-code app development

Low-code development platforms offer a drag-and-drop or WYSIWYG interface enabling users to write code, rather than a conventional text editor or IDE where developers must write all the code from scratch. Low-code tools lower the barrier to entry with visual programming interfaces for those who have never written a line of code. Experienced developers can also use these tools to streamline workflows and reduce their workloads, enabling them to focus on other tasks.

With a straightforward interface, these platforms simplify developing software solutions, making them an increasingly popular choice for businesses that require rapid innovations to stay competitive.

When choosing a low-code platform, keep in mind your reasons for going this route, as well as the features they include, pricing, and the level of control when creating your web app. For example, Visual LANSA offers developers a level of control not seen in many other platforms but only allows low-code to run on IBMi, windows, and the web. GeneXus provides the highest level of flexibility but comes at a price.

Remember, though, building large-scale enterprise apps still need high-skilled programmers and won’t replace traditional software development.

So what does this trend mean for web app developers?

There are a few downsides to LCDPs. For instance, they can sometimes limit developer creativity by offering fewer customization options. Additionally, creators don’t know the underlying software and the logic used to run the web application.

If the pros outweigh the cons, there is still the hurdle of security. Take note of the following to overcome this issue:

  • Avoid using any unsupported integrations for LCDP features and functionality.
  • Build your APIs within the platform
  • Use third-party auditing services to keep your security in check.
  • Automated testing: manual testing and debugging are not feasible, but automated testing can find security vulnerabilities during the development and testing phases.

Web app security importance is ever-increasing

While web applications offer convenience to businesses and customers alike, their ubiquity makes them a popular attack target for cybercriminals.

According to Cloudflare, the number of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in 2020 doubled each quarter. In a DDoS attack, hackers overwhelm a targeted server with a flood of malicious internet traffic. Furthermore, in some industries, as much as 43 percent of data breaches are web application-related. The result can be hours of downtime and loss of revenue and reputation.

With the large amount of data stored in web applications and an increase in online transactions, proper security testing is imperative.

So what does this trend mean for web app developers?

To perform a useful security test of a web application, the security tester should have good knowledge about the HTTP protocol. It‘s essential to have an understanding of how the browser and the server communicate using HTTP. Additionally, QA should understand the basics of SQL injection and XSS.

Even if a company follows best practices to protect itself against common web application attacks, this may not be enough; As such, other items to tighten up security include:

  • Conduct a vulnerability assessment: You can’t protect yourself until you know what needs to be done.
  • Adopt an AppSec model that analyzes software for vulnerabilities from the inside- out
  • Use multi-factor authentication: Require another layer of verification on top of usernames and passwords to access.
  • Regularly updating software is vital to ensure website security.

Key to success

To succeed in this tech-savvy world, you need to focus on B2B app trends and other online functionalities. Building a trustworthy relationship with other business partners is one of the critical things you need to ensure.

If you’re interested in launching a successful B2B web app, partner with a networked testing company that powers burstable software testing—in any location, on any device, in any language. Learn more and schedule a demo today.

Dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of digital marketing, PR, and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in communication and storytelling.