Web App vs. Website: Learn the Three Key Differences Between Them

CEO & Co-founder

Have you ever wondered what the key differences between a web application and a website are? These two terms are frequently confused because they may seem similar at first glance. That’s why you should know the main website and web application differences. But first thing’s first.

What is a website?

Let’s start with the theory. A website is a set of logically ordered elements that are displayed to a user in a web browser under a single domain name. The elements are typically linked together through navigation and anchor links. Different kinds of websites have different purposes. For instance, business websites are made to provide general information about the company, while blogs deliver useful articles, practical information, or entertainment.

What is a web application?

So, what is a web app? It’s a piece of software or program accessible using any web browser. It combines the features of a website and a standard application run on an operating system.

The main feature of a web app is that it provides interactive elements. Its frontend is usually created with HTML, CSS, or JavaScript, while the backend could be powered by, for example, PHP language. Unlike desktop apps, web applications aren’t as reliant on your hardware, so you can use them on any platform and don’t have to install them on your computer.

Today, we see the advantages of web applications and their growing popularity, allowing them to meet more and more business needs. Properly designed, they increase user engagement and positively impact user experience.

Technologies used to develop websites and web applications

While developers build websites with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, web applications require backend creation using various technologies, such as PHP and Node.js, and other frontend technologies (e.g., React, Angular, or Vue). Here are short descriptions of each of them so that you know when to use each one:

  • PHP is an excellent technology for building dynamic web applications. Thanks to several PHP frameworks and heavy-load libraries, the language is quick and simple to deploy. Examples of web applications built with PHP are Facebook, Yahoo, and Wikipedia. Learn more about why PHP is a good choice for web development.
  • Node.js is an environment used to run server-side apps in JavaScript, and it’s another solution that developers successfully use to create web applications. A set of built-in modules enables direct interaction with hardware. Examples of companies that use it for their products are Netflix and Uber.
  • React is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces that help to create dynamic and engaging web applications. Developers can save time by using ready-made and customizable components.
  • Angular, an open-source web application framework made by Google, is commonly used for building web applications. It’s powered by extensions and features that improve functionality. The top Angular-based apps are Gmail and PayPal.
  • Vue is a framework for building engaging user interfaces. Developers can quickly build web applications with excellent integration capabilities, flexibility, scalability, and time-saving components with excellent integration capabilities, flexibility, scalability, and time-saving components.

Web app vs. website — learn the difference

There are several differences between a web app and a website. Let’s dive deeper into the most common ones.

1. Interactivity

One of the leading web apps vs. website differentiations is functionality. A website mainly consists of static visual or text content that usually comes with an informative purpose. On the other hand, a web app is designed for interaction with the end-user.

For instance, the primary purpose of a company’s website is to provide basic information about the organization through photos, contact information, etc. It’s not supposed to require any extra activity from a user. A typical website contains much fewer interactive elements than a web page, and the user usually spends most of the time reading, browsing, or playing multimedia embedded in the site. However, it is also worth mentioning that modern websites contain interactive elements. For example, a restaurant website may include a Google Maps widget showing the route to that restaurant. However, for websites, there is more informational content than interactive elements.

The opposite is true for web applications because their core functionality is based on interaction. So the user can perform various actions like booking tickets, entering and submitting data, making payments, etc. Examples of well-known web applications are social media such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

2. Integrations

Integration means combining different components to create a “bridge,” allowing other systems and databases to be connected and transfer information between them. It will enable “pulling” solutions from one software to another. It is an efficient business solution considering the different types of web applications.

You can integrate both websites and web applications with other software (CRM systems, ERP, etc.). However, the most common integrations are performed in web applications because their complex functionality often requires interaction with other systems.

A typical example of a frequently used integration is linking a web application (e.g., an online store) with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. CRM stores all customer data in one place, providing easy access for employees. 

As an example of integration, we should also mention the ability to collect data and store it in the CRM automatically. It gives you access to many necessary data about customers, inquiries, communications, and feedback. Moreover, it allows you to learn more about your customers’ behaviors and buying habits and respond to their needs faster. What’s more, any change in customer data will be immediately reflected in the CRM. By always staying up to date with customer preferences, you will be able to respond while expanding your user base and increasing sales.

The choice of a particular solution depends on individual customer needs. You can integrate websites and web applications with other software, but the broader range of possibilities offered by web applications also entails the diversity of solutions you can use. Due to the level of complexity, the implementation of web applications requires more work. However, this solution offers many possibilities based on user interaction, which often proves to be the right choice.

3. Authentication

Authentication is a procedure that gives access to areas of the system intended for authorized parties. For web applications, it is a frequently used process due to the need for the system to identify the user and protect sensitive data. For web applications, it is a frequently used process due to the need for the system to identify the user and protect sensitive data. In this situation, user accounts must be secured to prevent unauthorized access and leakage of sensitive data. 

However, on websites, information services authentication is not mandatory. Of course, you may be offered registration to access additional options not available to unregistered site visitors. But to view news and featured articles on a news site, you do not need to register. 

Web application or website: know your needs

You now know the differences between the website and web application, and you’re more aware that a lot depends on the client’s needs. Before you ask a web development company for the final product, consider the things you want to focus on. Do you need a static, informative site or a complex web application that requires users to interact? Knowing the differences will make it much easier to pinpoint your needs.

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