Advantages of custom web applications
What is a custom web application
Custom means "specially designed for a particular person or purpose". Therefore, custom web applications are those which are created specifically to serve certain business needs or help meet certain business goals.
Custom-built applications tend to be more original projects, with more interesting features and longer lifespans. It's not a coincidence that the vast majority of popular platforms and services on the Internet today are custom-built.
Main advantages of custom web applications
Custom-built applications have many advantages over those based on generic CMSs. Below we list a few of particular interest for online businesses:
Built around business needs
Custom applications have solutions to specific business needs at the core. Because of this, a well-built custom application enables a business to function according to its own vision, instead of having to adapt to the limitations of a pre-built generic solution.
In addition, custom development allows more fine-grained control over every aspect of the project. Being that a web page is a reflection of the underlying business, a custom solution can help reflect the brand's identity better.
Because a custom application is normally designed and coded from scratch, it can more easily allow the implementation of any number of advanced security features.
In contrast, the generic CMSs popular on the Internet today are geared towards mass adoption and ease of use. To achieve these goals, they make sacrifices on security and performance. What's worse, adding better security features to them may create conflicts in the application because of the way these platforms are built.
Another important factor which makes custom web applications have better security out-of-the-box, is that their code is used only by the specific application, in addition to being hidden. This makes custom websites and applications practically immune to the vast number of random mass attacks going on on the Internet, since they are not targeted to begin with.
On the other hand, the code of websites based on generic CMSs is publicly available. That makes it easy for attackers to study it and find flaws, allowing them to set up automated mass attacks. In addition, these platforms are intentionally targeted because of their wide adoption. Most of the time, attackers don't even know about the existence of the websites they attack. It's all automated!
Better performance and scalability
Because generic CMSs and other such template-based solutions aim at wide adoption, they need to provide a high number of readily available features and components. Many of these will never be used in a given project though, so their only effect is to slow things down and potentially introduce bugs and security issues through their excess code.
These type of solutions are generally made to fit the needs of small projects with no special requirements, and will show their poor performance as soon as the project starts gaining popularity. They are therefore not suitable for high performance applications, as what slows them down - attempts to facilitate mass adoption and ease of use - is usually at the core of their system.
Custom built applications on the other hand don't have any unnecessary functions, consequently no excess code. This not only reduces the website's loading time, but also the likelihood of bugs and security flaws, improving customer experience, conversion and retention.
A custom application is also easier to tweak or modify in accordance with performance requirements.
Expandability and integration with third-party services
An application created from scratch is much easier to expand and add new features to, in response to new business objectives. Ideas or concerns regarding future functionality can be taken into account right from the beginning.
It's also easier to integrate third-party services such as payment processing, as code can be structured specially in order to facilitate this functionality, not only with less risk of code conflicts and bugs, but also with more control and customisation.
When using a pre-built CMS, it generally takes more effort to make third-party integrations smooth and bug-free. In some cases, they're not even possible. Using plugins to carry out these integrations may require frequent updates, which can cause security or performance issues, not to mention that they may not work well at all.
More SEO friendly
SEO is an important aspect for websites and online platforms which need to have better search ranking and visibility than their competitors.
A custom website allows for better SEO fine-tuning and quicker updates in response to search engines' algorithm changes.
Advanced digital marketing functions, like user flow and behaviour tracking, can also be implemented much easier, allowing valuable insight into how visitors use the website.
Finding the right web development company
Because custom applications are generally intended to be long-term, it's a good idea to choose to cooperate with a company rather than a single freelancer. Established companies generally employ more than one developer, so this will provide some guarantee regarding the required expertise, future development and support.
It's also a good idea to choose a company which shows to have a good understanding of the project and its goals. This will help them create an application which matches the business's vision.
When choosing the right company, a thing to consider is whether the company is experienced in creating custom applications. While many companies claim to develop custom applications, not all of them are really apt to do so.
In many cases, what they consider "custom" is anything that's been modified, including a modified templated website. If the company's developers are inexperienced or unqualified to carry out custom work, the delivered application may fall short of expectations.
A custom web application is the obvious choice for businesses which require a quality long-term solution that will fit their requirements like a glove.
Long term stability, better security and performance, the ability to incorporate complex functionalities, and painless growth potential are only a few of the many advantages of custom web applications.
Through a custom-built website or application, a business can focus on improving itself, rather than on improving its online assets.