By Robbert van Os
Posted on 2023-06-11T00:00:00.000Z

Creating a web application & understanding the lingo

Discover the essential components of web applications and their roles. Gain insights as non technical founder, in the core of your business.

Building a web application involves various interconnected components working together to provide a seamless user experience. Whether you're an investor looking to understand the technical aspects of the tech companies you invest in, an entrepreneur with a technical online proposition, or a starting developer seeking to navigate the landscape you operate in, this is a valuable resource.

By delving into the essential components of web applications, you'll gain insights into how these elements contribute to user satisfaction and business success. Understanding the role of components like DNS, load balancers, caching, front-end and back-end layers, data stores, and more, will empower you to make informed decisions, assess technical feasibility, and optimize your online ventures.

Furthermore, this knowledge can help investors evaluate the robustness and scalability of tech companies' web applications, ensuring a solid foundation for potential investments. For entrepreneurs, understanding these components enables you to communicate effectively with technical teams, make informed business decisions, and create a user-centric online experience.

Even for starting developers, comprehending the web application landscape is essential. It provides a holistic view, allowing you to grasp how different components interact and influence the overall performance and scalability of an application. This understanding sets the stage for honing your skills and developing high-quality web applications.

Whether you're an investor, entrepreneur, or aspiring developer, comprehending the fundamental components of web applications and their impact on user experiences and business success is essential.

Let's sum up some lingo you might (have) come across:


Customers refer to the end users of a web application. They interact with the application by navigating its pages, using its features, and providing input data.

Domain Name System (DNS)

The Domain Name System (DNS) is responsible for mapping domain names, such as, to the IP address of the server that will process user requests.

Load Balancer

A load balancer acts as a traffic cop, distributing incoming requests among multiple servers to ensure a balanced workload and prevent any single server from becoming overwhelmed.


Cache functions as a shortcut, storing data to serve user requests faster. It reduces the time required for the server to retrieve the same data repeatedly.

Front-end Application (Front-end)

The front-end refers to the user interface of the web application—the visual elements that users see and interact with on their screens. It serves as the presentation layer of the application.

Message Queue

The message queue acts as a waiting room for user requests. It temporarily stores these requests until they can be further processed by the web services.

Web Services (Back-end)

The back-end is where the actual work of the web application is performed. It houses the business logic and functionality of the application.

Data Store

The data store serves as the storage unit for the web application. It is where the web services read and write data.

Search Engine

The search engine component handles complex search queries that the data store may not efficiently handle on its own.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

The CDN stores static files like images, CSS, and JavaScript files. It helps serve user requests faster by providing cached copies of these files.

Queue Workers

Queue workers are additional servers that process requests from the message queue.


In the front-end layer, the main components involved are the DNS, CDN, load balancer (or reverse proxy), and front-end web servers. It's worth noting that the front-end layer also stores information about the HTTP session, which includes data about the user, such as cookies, external data stores, or load balancers in the case of sticky sessions.

The back-end layer, also known as web services, can be implemented in various ways. One approach is to build a monolithic app and then add web services as needed based on business requirements. Another approach is to follow an API-first approach or a combination of both. Web services can be either function-centric or resource-centric. Scaling these web services can be achieved through functional partitioning, adding clones, or utilizing HTTP protocol caching.

Scalability solutions involve adding more clones or servers, dividing the application by functionality, or dividing it based on data. Scaling the data layer traditionally involves acquiring more powerful servers, increasing RAM, or adding more hard drives. Advanced scaling techniques include replication, data partitioning, or sharding.

Caching plays a crucial role in enhancing performance and scalability by serving ready-to-use results. It is particularly useful for applications with a high number of reads but may be less effective for write-intensive applications. Various types of caches exist, including HTTP-based caches like browser caches, caching proxies, and CDNs.

In addition to these components, message queues are used to store and forward requests to ensure they are processed even during high traffic periods. Microservices is a modern software design approach where the application is built as a suite of small services, each running its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms. Web servers, like Apache, Nginx, or IIS, are essential for serving web pages to users. The application can be hosted in a cloud computing service like AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure. Web security is crucial to protect the application and user data from various threats.

One common tool used in managing web applications, especially those using microservices, is Kubernetes, an open-source platform for automating deployment, scaling, and management of application containers. It works in a similar way to Docker, but on a larger scale, managing a swarm of services instead of individual containers.

Overwhelmed ?

This is a broad overview provides a comprehensive overview of the web application building process and its components. While the technical terminology may initially seem overwhelming, don't worry. By reading and understanding this article, you've taken an important first step into the world of online software development. Remember, acquiring detailed technical knowledge comes with time and experience. Embrace the learning journey, and soon you'll feel comfortable navigating the realm of web development.