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Web App vs. Website: What's The Difference?

May 11, 2022·6 min read

The various amounts of different online software and their similarities can often get confusing when trying to learn the differences amongst them. A significant example of this is web apps and websites. They are often used interchangeably.

However, they are very different. And we are here to help break that down for you. We will cover their definitions, why you need both, their characteristics, and their disadvantages.

What is a Website?

A website is a group of globally accessible and interlinked web pages under a single domain name. It can be developed by an individual, business, or organization. A website serves a variety of purposes like blogs, eCommerce, educational, services, etc.

A website is hosted on a single or multiple web servers. It is either publicly accessible via the Internet or restricted to a private local network.

Illustration displaying a website on a Desktop PC
Illustration displaying a website on a Desktop PC

Why Do You Need a Website?

If you're a business, you must have an online presence. In today's day and age, technology is everywhere and accessible. Meaning you need to make it accessible for your customers. A website also gives your business tons of advantages, including:

  • Credibility: You can showcase your business through a website that looks good, clear, and communicates quality information to your customers. Without one, you lose credibility on what your business sells.
  • Brand: Through a website, you can establish who you are, what you represent, and what you stand for. This increases the chances of customers buying from you when they understand your brand.
  • Leads: having a website increases your chances of getting leads, which is your main goal for a business. Once people find you online and are interested in your product, they'll know how to contact you or order off your website. You also reach a larger audience of leads this way. If you only had a storefront, people within that vicinity are only visiting your store. A website reaches millions of people worldwide.

A website effectively showcases your products and services, helps achieve business goals, and allows you to increase customer support. A website is a must if you're a business, offer services, or want something to get seen.

Characteristics of a Website

To be a good website that gets noticed, it needs to have specific characteristics. It needs to be functional, provide relevant content, responsive and fast, optimized for mobile, have user-friendly navigation, a clean and on-brand web design, and can easily be searched and found on Google.

Disadvantages of a Website

Of course, there are some disadvantages to websites, but not many. Not every business niche is going to need one. It depends on what you're selling and your services. However, we'd say the advantages outweigh the setbacks by far. Here are some of the disadvantages:

  • Cost: Putting up a website and maintaining it does not come cheap. Of course, you want a professionally done website so hiring an expert is inevitable. Also, you need to buy a domain name and pay for hosting (renewable every year).
  • Reliability: Running a website is worth worrying about, especially if you are not upfront in updating your content. You must provide reliable and up-to-date content with a disclaimer whenever necessary.

What is a Web Application?

A web application is a software or program that is accessible using any web browser. Web applications came to prominence with the advent of the software as a Service (SaaS) movement. The front end is created using languages like HTML, CSS, and Javascript, supported by most major browsers. The backend uses a programming stack like LAMP, MEAN, etc. While mobile apps require a specific SDK for developing, web applications do not.

Illustration displaying a web application on a laptop
Illustration displaying a web application on a laptop

Why do you need a Web Application?

There are various reasons why a web application may suit your business needs and is becoming a more popular choice.

  • Web applications can be used on any platform as they all support modern browsers.
  • Web applications do not require approval as a Mobile App store does.
  • You do not need to remind users to update their applications as they can be released anytime and in any form.
  • Web applications can be accessed 24/7.
  • You can use either your computer or a mobile device to access the required data.
  • Web applications are a more cost-effective option for businesses.
  • You are not required to download or install them as they are accessed through the Internet or a mobile web browser.

Characteristics of a Web App

The characteristics that make modern web apps essential for any business include:

  • Cloud-hosting
  • Cross-platform usability
  • Ability to combine and support traditional application behavior and single-page applications
  • They are agile and effective, empowering a business through a rich web user experience
  • Easily tested with automated tests

Disadvantages of a Web Application

Just like everything else in the world, web applications have their disadvantages as well:

  • Browser dependant: A web app is entirely dependent on a web browser. If your web browser is unresponsive or having some issues, your web app is automatically in trouble. During development, ensure your web app is supported across different browsers as a precaution.
  • Internet reliance: Most web applications need access to the internet to carry out their service, although there are solutions for offline use aswell.

Web App vs. Website

So as you can see there are some prime differences between a web application and a website, let's have a look at them side-by-side:

Use Cases

  • A web application is designed for interaction with the end-user and the access of some resources or content can be resticted for only logged-in users
  • A website will consist of static content and is publicly accessible to all visitors.

User Interaction

  • In a web application, the user reads the content and can manipulate the restricted data.
  • A website provides visual and text content that any user can view and read but can't change its functioning.

Authentication

  • A web app mostly needs authentication.
  • Authentication is not obligatory for information websites.

Complexity

  • Web application functions are much more advanced and complicated compared to a website.
  • A website displays the collected data and information on its web pages.

Design

  • Web application's success is bounded by user interaction. Having an intuitive and simple to use design is mandatory.
  • A sleek design is not compulsory for your website although having one would tune up its performance.

Now you fully understand the difference between a web application and a website! See how many differences there are, but both help make your business better and more accessible.