It’s easy to get confused between web apps and websites. It’s understandable as they both open in the browser, both have a back-end and front-end, and they also look the same at times. Thus, if you don’t have relevant knowledge, it’s easy to get confused between them.
We face this question at least once a week as a software development company. That’s what led us to write this blog. By the end of this blog post, you’ll clearly understand websites, web apps and their differences.
What is a Website?
When it comes to the digital world, websites are the most accessible means from the very beginning. In the most systematic modules, they are navigational and present text, images, and videos.
The primary purpose of creating a website is to provide information to people who might be interested. For example, you might want to create a business website to showcase your products, services, contact information, etc., to your prospects.
As the core function is to present information systematically, it is highly static. Thus, it has limited scope for user interactivity.
What is a Web Application?
Think of any software. Now, what if you could use all functionalities of this software in your web browser without downloading it on your mobile phone or computer? That’s what a web application is.
The purpose of web applications is to help a user perform a specific task and function as an interactive tool. For example, an internet banking platform allows users to perform their banking functions through their web browser.
Because of their highly functional nature, web applications allow great interactivity and are dynamic. They’re more complex to build, and require more specialized database architecture, React.js, Vue.js, PHP, and Node.js, and systems administration.
Custom Web apps are designed and built by teams of specialized developers. Complex web apps follow an agile project management process designed for continuous improvement, compared to more simple web applications that can be fully defined in a scope of work benefit from the use of a waterfall style project management.
How Do Websites and Web Applications Differ?
There are three primary points of difference between websites and web applications: interactivity, integration, and authentication. Let’s understand them one by one.
Websites are supposed to provide information; they’re not made much interactive for users. With time, websites have evolved to be interactive, but it’s fundamental.
When it comes to web apps, the user interacts with the page, i.e., one gets a response to the action he has performed on the page.
A very fruitful example of a website is The Guardian. An individual has different modules to click on, from news to lifestyle. It is just about a single click and endless scrolling into the site. There are no notifications, personalized filters, etc., which are present in web applications.
Features are enhanced with motion UI/UX, which helps make interactive web apps. A good example is a restaurant’s web app where you can order your food, customize dishes and pay the bill.
Here, integration means using multiple other tools or software to build a comprehensive system. Prime examples of such software are CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) tools.
Other software can be incorporated with both web pages and web applications. Still, the latter is more likely to require integration because of their sophisticated functionality, which frequently necessitates contact with other systems.
As far as websites are concerned, they usually don’t need users to log in and authenticate themselves as most of the information is supposed to be public. Web apps require more authentication, as they offer a much broader scope to a particular set of people.
The most common example of this is social networking sites, as you cannot use their functionalities without creating an account and verifying your identity.
Websites Vs. Web Apps: Side by Side Comparison
Apart from the three differences mentioned above, websites and web apps differ. Here’s how:
|Built for||Informing visitors||Interacting with users|
|Complexity||Less efficient in handling complex operations||Seamlessly oversees complex operations.|
|User Interactivity||Offers limited user interactivity.||Web apps are highly interactive in nature.|
|Authentication||Most websites are publicly accessible and don’t require user authentication.||Web apps feature user authentication as they consist of sensitive information and are supposed to be used by a specific group of people.|
|Integration||Most websites don’t require extensive integration with other tools and platforms.||Integration with other apps and tools is necessary for web apps to perform optimally.|
|Availability||Readily available & accessed via browsers||One has to download and install the app to use it.|
|Support & maintenance||Easy to manage & maintain||Requires regular updates & maintenance|
|Examples||Wikipedia, Google||Zoom, YouTube|
Website or Web App: Which One is Right for You?
Often web applications are built in phases, establishing a minimum viable product and then adding the more complex functions as the site gains audience fit. The additional investment is warranted by your audience’s needs, feedback and engagement.
The thing that matters the most is to fulfill your vision and technical requirements so you can deliver the best user experience to customers. So, approach digital agencies without any label to create your web platform and see how it works.