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Is Your Application Scalable? An Ultimate Guide

Scaling apps is a prerequisite for future success. Learn how to make scalable apps that drive real growth. Read more about the requirements of scaling your app

Let’s say you have a product that can be used by 1,000 people today. When you ask whether this exact product can be used by 10,000 people tomorrow, you are looking at the scalability of this product. In other words, you are questioning whether you can scale this product so that more people can effectively use it.

But how does scalability apply to apps? Let’s explore how scaling apps works and how to improve scalability of web applications.

What Does Scalability Mean for Applications?

Scalability in app development is a term describing the ability of the app to take in a growing number of users. Scalability of an app guarantees that, over time, it will successfully sustain the growth of its user base. To achieve this, developers need to build and configure it properly. In other words, they need to align the proper software protocols and hardware to meet a high number of requests per minute.

Building a scalable app is vital for its success. Scalable apps can accommodate growth, provide a good user experience, and bring a better return on investment.

A genuinely scalable app should be capable of providing: 

  • Fast service, regardless of the number of users
  • Efficiency even at high loads
  • Ability to evolve as the number of users increases

Types of app scaling 

There are two main types of scaling apps:

  • Horizontal: Horizontal scaling means adding more machines or servers with the app code to expand the capacity.
  • Vertical: Vertical scaling includes adding more resources such as CPU, network capacity, or memory, allowing the app to handle many simultaneous requests effortlessly. However, vertical scaling is limited and dependent on existing servers.

What Are the Benefits of Scaling Apps?

Improved user experience

One of the main benefits of scaling apps is the ability to provide a seamless experience, regardless of the number of users at any moment. The speed at which the app functions dramatically impacts the user experience and can make or break your app. By Google’s research, over 50% of users abandon a mobile website that takes over three seconds to load. The same goes for apps.

Leveraging your app during high traffic

Building a scalable app means you'll be able to leverage it during high-traffic periods such as holidays or festive occasions where you can expect an increase in use and traffic. During these periods, you can offer special promotions and turn leads into paying customers without experiencing problems and bugs due to increased traffic.

Save money on post-launch maintenance

If you were wondering how to improve the scalability of web applications, you should know that what you do in the beginning matters the most. While building a scalable app might cost you more in the beginning, it pays off in the long term since you won't have to spend hours fixing the app to adapt to a higher influx of people. In addition, the more effort you put into the app in the beginning, the less work you'll have to work on it in the future.

Improved user feedback

User feedback is one of the most essential things in successful app development. Plus, the more positive reviews you get, the more people will start using your app. To achieve this, you need to make it functional and high-performing, with as few disruptive bugs as possible. That said, prioritizing scalability will ensure that the app works well at all times, allowing you to grow your user base easier.

Increased profit margins

The more downloads the app has, the more money it will earn. A higher volume of downloads comes with recommendations, which happens when the app works seamlessly and without bugs. Invest in scaling your app straight from the beginning to boost your revenue. Otherwise, it might cost more if you do it later in the development process.

How Do You Improve the Scalability of a Software Application? 

There are a few things that make an app scalable you should take into consideration, such as:

  • Performance: You should consider the app's capacity and determine at which point of saturation the app will show some problems. Consider how well your app can handle an increase in users.
  • Recoverability: Think about the time your application will take to restore its original working state after experiencing a failure. Uptime is vital as it can prevent revenue loss and is something to consider while building your app.
  • Ease of management: This refers to how easy it is to maintain and update your app. Truly scalable apps don’t have maintenance and update problems.

Set your app up to scale quickly

To scale your app quickly, you need to understand your app well. You should be aware of its infrastructure and know which resources are the most likely to cause a performance bottleneck since this will help you pinpoint the best areas for scaling.

You should devise an in-depth scaling plan and choose whether horizontal, vertical, or hybrid scaling is the most viable option. Then, test your application during the scaling process to understand the expected latency under increasing loads. 

The most efficient thing you can do while scaling the app is avoiding doing it on your physical servers. Instead, use cloud-based servers and hosting from the beginning. Lastly, keep it simple. Simple things are much easier to scale. Complex applications are much harder to scale quickly and potentially cause more problems.

Always use caching

If you want to improve the scalability of software applications, make sure to consider caching first. Caching saves ready-made results that could be delivered to a user without additional data processing. That way, user requests are met faster, improving the overall user experience. 

Furthermore, caching allows your app to decrease the load on your system’s resources and avoid delays, downtime, and other issues connected with system overload.

The bottom line is that users don’t want to wait to get what they need, and their retention is closely tied to your ability to make a high-performing app.

Take advantage of CDN

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help scale apps by speeding up user content delivery. CDNs make this possible by using multiple servers scattered around the globe, and access to these servers reduces the app response time, helping create a positive user experience.

CDNs are a good option for worldwide app usage. However, this is neither the most efficient nor practical solution for local apps.

Choose libraries designed for performance

To build a scalable app from the beginning, you should consider using high-performance libraries. For instance, using JavaScript instead of load dash will result in a faster and more efficient app. Furthermore, you should check their performance and software scalability while choosing libraries and packages, not just their popularity.

Choose the right framework

The technology you use can have a massive impact on the scalability of your software application. That said, before starting the development process, you need to research which types of development technologies give the best potential to scale your app and which ones don't. For instance, Node.js and Angular are known for their scaling potential for apps built with these technologies.

Choose the right host

Scalability isn’t about the code only. Server infrastructure and configuration matter a lot. You can save a lot of time and energy by just choosing the right tools and providers.

Keep your code clean 

All scalable apps have one thing in common – clean code. Apps with mixed and complicated code eventually become too difficult to manage, let alone scale. Furthermore, keeping your code clean is always better and avoiding mixing too many parts of your code into one place. 

While scaling apps, you should separate the front-end and back-end layers, detach background jobs from the main system, and use design patterns wisely.

Key Takeaways

Building a scalable app is a must to achieve commercial success. However, to make your app scalable, you’ll need to choose your hosting wisely, be careful about the framework you use, keep your code clean and keep your front-end and back-end layers separate.

By doing this, you’ll be able to build a genuinely scalable app, save money, improve user experience and handle high-traffic periods that ultimately lead to increased profit.

Do you have questions about the scalability of your application? Book a 30 minute project call and connect with one of our experts.

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