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.

The Oxford dictionary defines the noun scalability as the “possibility of adapting to meet greater needs in the future.” 

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

But how does scalability actually apply to apps? Let’s find out how scaling apps work and how to improve scalability of web applications.

What Does Scalability Mean for Applications?

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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 right software protocols and hardware to meet a high number of requests per minute.

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

A truly 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 which allow the app to handle a large number of simultaneous requests effortlessly. However, vertical scaling is limited and dependent on existing servers.

What Are the Benefits of Scaling Apps?

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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 app functions have a great impact on the user experience and it 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

In case 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. The more effort you put into the app in the beginning, the less you'll have to work on it in the future.

Improved user feedback

User feedback is one of the most important 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 a few disruptive bugs as possible. With that being 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, and this happens when the app works seamlessly and without bugs. That said if you want to boost your revenue, invest in scaling your app straight from the beginning. Otherwise, it might cost more if you choose to 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 think about the app's capacity and determine at which point of saturation will the app 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 to its original working state after experiencing a failure. Uptime is vital as it can prevent revenue loss, and it’s 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

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

The most efficient thing you can do while scaling the app is to avoid doing it on your physical servers. 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. Essentially, cashing means that you’re saving 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 you’re putting 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 in scaling apps by speeding up content delivery to the users. 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 apps that are meant to be used worldwide. For local apps, however, this is neither the most efficient nor practical solution.

Choose libraries designed for performance

If you want 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 quickly eventually become too difficult to manage, let alone scale. Furthermore, it’s always better to keep your code clean and avoid mixing too many parts of your code into one place. 

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

Key Takeaways

Building a scalable app is a must if you want to achieve commercial success. 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 truly scalable app, save money, improve user experience and handle high-traffic periods that will ultimately lead to increased profit. The question remains: what advice you’ll use to scale your app?

Lauren Jones

Marketing Director

Award-winning Custom App Developers

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