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    Top 10 Websites and Apps Built Using Node.js

    Node.js is a development runtime environment used to create websites and apps. It’s hugely popular, open-source, and was launched in 2009. Hundreds of companies use it, and developers across the world create websites using Node.js.

    At SECL Group, we have been developing websites and apps for clients since 2005. We have worked with over 200 companies around the world on projects big and small. 

    As part of the development process, we are always paying attention to emerging new technologies, and we select the most useful to develop scalable websites and applications. 

    Since Node.js became scalable and secure, we used this to develop big projects. Using Node.js is now one of our main specializations, which is why we’ve put together a list of the top 10 largest websites and apps developed with Node.js as one of the main technologies in this article. 

    What is Node.js? 

    Node.js is open-source, which means it’s not proprietary; it’s a server-side cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment built-in Google’s V8 engine. The support for this open-source environment comes from the OpenJS Foundation, which started as the Node.js Foundation, before merging with the JS Foundation. Ongoing support for the OpenJS Foundation comes from the Linux Foundation’s Collaborative Projects program.

    First created and released in 2009 by Ryan Dahl, it’s now used by millions of developers worldwide to run scripts server-side to develop more scalable websites and apps, making it ideal for big projects.

    Before looking at ten high-load websites and applications built using Node.js, let’s consider the benefits of using it for scalable projects and why it’s so popular around the world for this purpose. For those who aren’t technical, don’t worry, we’ve outlined the key points: the business benefits of why developing high-load (popular and large) websites and apps using Node.js makes a difference.

    Benefits of using Node.js

    • Code is executed faster, in the runtime environment. Faster is always better, as speed is so important when capturing the attention of web visitors. Whether you want them to buy something, spend time on your website or app, or ask for more information, loading speeds make a huge difference. The upside with Node.js is that it’s built-in Google’s V8 engine, making code execution within the runtime environment faster and more accurate.
    • Asynchronous, not waiting for APIs to return data. Node.js can handle thousands, even millions of data requests concurrently. That means it can play a key role in large websites which handle a lot of traffic. One of the benefits of using Node.js is that the JS libraries are asynchronous and non-blocking. If your servers operate in this environment, data won’t be delayed if a particular API doesn’t quickly send what a website or application needs. Instead, the same data will be sourced from another API.
    • Scaleable, with a single-threaded mechanism. Node.js is designed to ensure servers respond faster to requests, thanks to the single-threaded mechanism based on event looping. This helps servers respond quickly to data requests, which is faster and more efficient than traditional servers.

    If we are to take away the technical language and focus on the business benefits, they include:

    • Websites and apps load quicker; 
    • Web visitors need and expect websites to load quickly; 
    • Conversion rates increase with speed and drop dramatically when websites are slow; 
    • It’s easier to build large, scalable websites and apps with technology that allows for quicker, more effortless scalability, such as Node.js. 

    Next, let’s take a look at ten of the largest websites built with the advantages of using Node.js in server-side runtime environments. 

    10 Websites and Apps built with Node.js

    1. PayPal 

    One of the first-ever financial technology companies in the world, PayPal now has over 305 million active users, sending and receiving money around the world. At the same time, 26 million shops, big and small, use PayPal as a payment platform, giving customers the popular choice of paying using a PayPal account.

    Node.js plays an integral role in the PayPal architecture. It allows developers to scale solutions more quickly and easily, powering web applications and giving teams the ability to move faster. Naturally, this improves the user experience too.

    Built with: 

    Front-end: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

    Back-end: Node.js, Express and Kraken.js 

    Database technologies: HERA.

    About: Founded in 1998 as Confinity and floated on the stock market as one of the fastest-growing financial startups in the world (attempting to replace money orders and cheques), it was then bought by eBay in 2004 for $1.5 billion.

    eBay, which continues to benefit in numerous ways (as do eBay buyers and sellers), then spun off the company to shareholders in 2015, and PayPal continues to be publicly listed on the Nasdaq.

    PayPal also owns numerous smaller but equally popular financial tech (FinTech) brands, such as Venmo, Braintree, iZettle, Honey (which it bought for $4bn in 2019), and several others. Revenue was approximately $17.7 billion in 2019; although with eCommerce growing even faster in 2020, $220 billion of payments went through PayPal, which means revenue will have increased.

    2. LinkedIn 

    The world’s first, and largest, professional social network, now owned by the technology giant, Microsoft.

    LinkedIn started life as an online CV website founded and launched by Reid Hoffman, one of the most prolific and respected serial entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. It has evolved into a massive and fast-growing professional social network, where people find business opportunities, promote themselves and their work, and is a crucial way of generating sales leads and winning new customers.

    Originally, LinkedIn was built with Ruby on Rails. However, in time, they switched to Node.js for several mission-critical reasons, given the scalable nature of the platform. Compared to RoR, Node.js executes code and performs 20 times faster than Rails.

    Node.js also requires far fewer servers. Where Rails might need 30, Node.js only needs 3, so as LinkedIn continued to scale, it didn’t need nearly as many servers to deliver the same application features and user experience, making Node.js faster and smoother.

    Built with: 

    Front-end: HTML, CSS, React, Bootstrap

    Back-end: Node.js, Rest.li, and Dynamic Discovery (D2) 

    Database technologies: Hadoop, Voldermort data store, Espresso 

    About:Now with 740 million users worldwide and owned by Microsoft (since 2016), LinkedIn was founded in 2003 by Reid Hoffman. He was one of the original “PayPal mafia”; who founded PayPal alongside Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX) and whose former colleagues played essential roles in founding and investing in the next wave of big tech companies, such as Facebook.

    3. Wall Street Journal Online

    Wall Street Journal Online is the digital platform of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), America’s leading investment-related and business media company. It is THE most trusted and respected source in the business and investment community, with a natural focus on Wall Street, investments, currencies, futures, pensions, and other financial assets. 

    Due to the size of this website, and other online assets Dow Jones operates, there is a need for scalability and speed. Using Node.js allows Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal Online developers to build and launch new functionality quicker than was previously possible. 

    This also means that features, pages, and other functionality are delivered quicker to readers and web visitors. Everyone benefits from this, including advertisers, who are keen to ensure adverts reach the right audience at the right time, without impacting page loading speeds or the quality of the adverts. 

    Built with: 

    Front-end:HTML, CSS, Next.js, React

    Back-end: Node.js.

    Database technologies: AWS S3, Lambda, DynamoDB

    About: The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is one of the largest business-focused media brands in the US and around the world. It’s owned by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corp, a Murdoch family-controlled media giant. It has a large global readership, mainly of business professionals, shareholders, investors, and others in the financial sectors and business community. 

    4. Yahoo

    Yahoo! was one of the early tech giants and search engines, which also runs a wide range of media brands or portals, alongside other services such as Mail (email). It provides a range of portals, or platforms, for news, entertainment, sports, finance, weather, price comparisons, local advertising, and other information sources.

    As one of the most widely visited online platforms, Yahoo benefits from a scalable and fast architecture. Node.js plays an important role in using it in several core products, such as Answers and Screen.

    Built with: 

    Front-end: HTML, CSS, Redux, React

    Back-end: Node.js

    Database technologies: Redis, Vespa.

    About: One of the original tech giants, from the early days of the Internet. It remains one of the most popular web platforms, with numerous websites under the Yahoo brand still ranking in the top 10 in the world. Now owned by Verizon Media, Yahoo (apart from the Japanese division, which is independent), it was bought in 2017 for $4.48 billion.

    5. Medium 

    Designed as a new way to write, publish articles and read online. Medium was founded by Evan Williams, a former co-founder of Blogger (bought by Google in 2003), and then Twitter. Medium not only serves as a platform for anyone with an account to write and publish articles, including countless businesses but a media platform for publications and online magazines.

    It was originally written in Node.js, and although the technology stack is different and has evolved, the main app servers are still written in Node. As apps and websites evolve, often a wider range of solutions are brought in to scale the architecture and functionality. And yet, a crucial piece of the architecture behind Medium has been developed in Node.js, and it continues to play an important role. 

    Built with: 

    Front-end: HTML, CSS, React, Next.js.

    Back-end: Node.js, Go.

    Database technologies: Redis, Amazon DynamoDB.

    About: Evan Williams, a former co-founder of Blogger (bought by Google in 2003) and then Twitter, founded Medium to bring the Internet back to higher-quality long-form journalism and user-generated content. Thanks to Twitter, people put their thoughts out in 140 characters (the limit has increased since then).

    Williams thought this wasn’t nearly enough room for more nuanced opinions. Following his success with Blogger, he has attempted to replicate that in a more innovative way. Unfortunately, it’s still not profitable, although it has raised $134 million and has a large and growing user base of people publishing and reading articles.

    6. Shutterstock 

    Shutterstock is one of the oldest online image libraries, including an extensive collection of music and videos. There are over 1 million contributors on the platform, with 300 million images and video clips. So far, 1 billion downloads from companies and individuals who have used images and videos creators upload. It’s available in 150 countries, with the site translated into 21 languages.

    Naturally, when it comes to delivering such a large amount of content (images and videos) to a global audience, you need a fast server-side environment. Node.js, ensures this, which is why it still plays an important role in the architecture of Shutterstock.

    Built with: 

    Front-end: HTML, CSS, JavaScript.

    Back-end: Node.js, Go, Java, Perl.

    Database technologies: MariaDB, MemSQL.

    About: Shutterstock went public (an IPO) in 2012, which is when The Atlantic expanded on the benefits of the platform, describing it as “a web community in the manner of a Facebook or a Twitter or a Pinterest, with its value relying almost entirely on the enthusiasm of its contributors.” Media companies are amongst the customers of this platform, as many benefit from the ability to download however many images and videos they need every month, at rates lower than the traditional picture libraries. 

    Although from a creator perspective, this means earning lower fees than would have been possible when the market was smaller and more concentrated in the hands of professional photographers and videographers. 

    VICE explains that “photographers retain copyright over their images, but Shutterstock is given full permission to market, display, and license the image to the customers on their site without final approval from the photographer.” 

    7. Ancestry 

    Ancestry.com is the world’s largest online genealogy company, with several brands that help customers discover who their ancestors are, locate graves, buy newspapers that contribute towards ancestry research, and test DNA for an even deeper look back into your genealogical past. 

    Founded 25 years ago, Node.js started to be used in server-side applications when the various websites and apps started to grow. It helps them deliver the online services at greater speed and scale than other online environments. 

    Speed and secure scalability are essential, with them having 3 million paying customers, having sold over 18 million DNA Kits, and a library of over 10 billion historical records. Two of the main brands they still own are FindAGrave and AncestryDNA, and both divisions continue to grow under the new owners, private equity giant, The Blackstone Group. 

    Built with: 

    Front-end: HTML, CSS, JavaScript.

    Back-end: Node.js.

    About: Founded in Utah by Paul Brent Allen and Dan Taggar, Ancestry.com LLC is a privately owned online genealogy company responsible for numerous websites for those who want to learn about their ancestors. This now includes DNA kits, of which they’ve sold 18 million as of August 2020. 

    After a long history of acquisitions, going public, and increasingly large investments and valuations, The Blackstone Group, a private equity company, purchased the company for $4.7 billion towards the end of 2020 and appointed Deb Liu, a former Facebook executive, as CEO.

    Ancestry is yet another impressive example of a large digital company that relies on Node.js to deliver a server-side environment that ensures online services are provided to users and web visitors at the speed they need. 

    8. Zendesk 

    Customer service software company Zendesk has risen steadily, as TechCrunch put it in 2013, to the “Top Of The Helpdesk Heap.” Now it’s generating $1 billion in revenues, with 170,000 paying customers, and has 3,750 staff around the world. It provides a range of helpdesk and customer service software products, incident premium call and chat services for larger teams, and AI-powered chatbot services.

    Node.js plays an important role in the server-side environment, ensuring services are delivered to customers at scale.

    Built with: 

    Front-end: HTML, CSS, React.

    Back-end: Node.js.

    Database technologies: MySQL, Redis, Amazon S3.

    About: Founded in a loft in Copenhagen by Mikkel Svane, Morten Primdahl, and Alexander Aghassipour, who had all experienced customer service software. Until Zendesk was created, most customer service software was difficult to use from an agent user experience and managerial (corporate overview) perspective.

    Zendesk wanted to solve this problem and make customer service software a SaaS product. Over the years, thanks to investments (starting with $500,000 in 2008), and the IPO in 2014, the company has bought other software businesses to support its growth and improve the technology stack powering the software.

    9. Groupon 

    For a number of years, Groupon was the most popular daily deal website, and it’s still doing well as a public company, generating approximately $3 billion.

    Groupon effectively operates as a two-sided marketplace, providing deals from businesses to a consumer audience, operating in 150 cities around the world.

    Due to the size of the audience, Groupon needed a tech stack that could deliver what web visitors and, therefore, customers need quickly, at scale. For that reason, they turn to Node.js as a key component of the server-side environment. Built with:

    Front-end: HTML, CSS, Ember.js.

    Back-end: Node.js, Java, Go.

    Database technologies: MySQL

    About:First launched in Chicago to help customers save money when purchasing from businesses in a group (therefore getting bulk discounts). The founder, Andrew Mason, received $1 million seed money from his former employer, Eric Lefkofsky. Groupon then grew so fast that it was the first company to receive $1 billion in only 16 months.

    At the time, it’s fast-paced sales focus encouraged more investors to get on board, driving it towards an IPO in 2011. Growth has been steady ever since, but not as fast as early investors and analysts perhaps expected, although it continues to perform well in a competitive eCommerce landscape.

    10. Quizlet 

    With a variety of learning tools and games, such as flashcards, Quizlet is an eLearning application that’s now available in 130 countries around the world, with 16 language options. In 2019, it had around 50 million users and grew even faster, with schools in many countries being closed in 2020.

    Quizlet is also an eLearning solution for schools, and teachers can use it in the classroom when a school pays for a subscription. It uses Node.js to speed up the delivery of digital assets to users from the server-side environment.

    Built with: 

    Front-end: HTML, CSS, React, Linaria, D3.js.

    Back-end: Node.js, Spring Boot.

    Database technologies: Percona, Google Cloud Storage.

    About:

    Founded to solve the problems generated when studying. Students, in the classroom and at home, need more help to master and understand subjects they are having difficulty with or have tests on. 

    Quizlet operates on a freemium basis, and although it’s the fastest-growing eLearning website, the company has remained private and profitable instead of going public. 

    Conclusion

    As you can see, Node.js is an incredibly useful development runtime environment used to create websites and apps. Developing using this within servers ensures websites and apps load faster. For businesses, this means it comes with the following advantages: 

    • Websites and apps load quicker, which is the minimum norm that web visitors expect; 
    • Conversion rates increase with speed, and drop dramatically when websites are slow; 
    • It’s easier to build large, scalable websites and apps with technology that allows for quicker, easier scalability, such as Node.js. 
    • It provides a robust technology stack, and therefore a strong framework for building more scalable web and mobile applications; 
    • It helps developers create new apps and websites more effectively, improving productivity. Part of that is a result of the upsides of being able to share and reuse code. 
    • Node.js allows for easy knowledge sharing within teams, and there are a huge number of free tools that help developers do a better and faster job when developing using Node.js. 
    • It also ensures faster processing, thanks to the V8 engine, and it does not block any inputs or outputs, allowing for asynchronous request handling. 
    • It’s also an ideal technology for microservices architecture. 

    Work with SECL Group for your next website or application project: write to us to get started if you want a web project successfully developed and launched. We have experience with clients big and small, with over 70 skilled developers and consultants across the company to support your goals.

    Contact us today to launch your next project!

    Author
    Mykyta Semenov
    CEO, SECL Group
    The CEO of a software development company called «SECL Group». Extensive experience in web development since 2002. An author of numerous studies and articles, a speaker at industry conferences, and an independent consultant for commercial companies and government agencies.

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