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Key Difference Between a web application development and a website?

These days many often use the word website and web app interchangeably without giving much attention to their differences. Sometimes these concepts of web application development and website overlap each other. Both run on browsers and depend on internet connectivity. They have some serious differences as well.

First of all, the development of a website differs significantly from that of a web app and in terms of ease of use and user experience also, they have serious differences. When hiring a web application development company, you need to take care of these differences. If you want to shape your web identity with a sophisticated website or feature-rich web app, understanding these differences is absolutely necessary.

Let’s figure out the definition and characteristics of both and find out the key differentiating areas.

What is a Website and why do you need it?

A website refers to a multitude of interlinked web pages with domain names that are accessible through the internet all over the globe. Websites can represent a business entity or an individual or an organization. Websites can serve several different purposes including blogging, content publication, dashboard, eCommerce and the online store, and several others. A website Will be available for internet users by hosting it on single or multiple servers.

The website frontend and backend development generally involve a variety of technologies including CMS systems like WordPress, Drupal, Magento, etc, and programming languages like PHP, HTML, Ruby, JavaScript, and many others.

Some of the key reasons for individuals and companies to use a website include the following.

  • An efficient and dynamic interface to display commercial products and services.
  • An interactive way to create a digital brand presence of a company.
  • Creating an online store to sell products or services.
  • Providing a customer support help desk over the Internet.
  • Helping people to learn and educate online.

Let’s understand one thing the appeal of websites is universal and it has passed the test of time. For years, websites have been at the forefront of digital campaigns of companies around the world. Particularly, the cat race among websites to appear in Google search engine ranking and gain traffic continues to make websites irreplaceable from the digital marketing and user acquisition strategies of businesses. Despite the emergence of sophisticated mobile apps, cloud web apps, Progressive Web Apps (PWA), and a host of other web-offshoots, traditional websites still seem to be irreducible as far as we consider value offerings.

What is a Web Application and why do you need it?

A web application development is an internet-hosted software application, accessible through web browsers. You can hire frontend developers for a web project who are versed with HTML, CSS, and Javascript as these are dynamic languages supported by the leading browsers. For backend development of web apps, technology stacks such as LAMP, MEAN, MERN, etc can also be used.

Web application development are mostly preferred by the leading Software as a Service (SaaS) solution providers across diverse niches.

Some of the key reasons to use web applications include the following.

  • Unlike websites, web applications use a single codebase for the whole app and hence are easier to maintain.
  • Web apps are preferred for digital branding even more because of their ease of use, flexibility, and user experience.
  • Businesses turn their traditional websites into web applications for providing a more sophisticated user experience.
  • Web applications can also facilitate offline access to certain content and features.

Web apps holding the same promises for search engine visibility as traditional websites, take the user experience to the next level and that is what makes web apps so popular Web apps in recent years went through a rigorous evolution thanks to a host of advanced technologies that continued to reduce the gap between our age-old web and the native mobile apps. The cloud apps, Progressive Web Apps (PWA), and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are some of the emerging and new facets of web development. Offline access, real-time syncing across devices and locations, and mobile apps like access to native device features and functionalities, are some of the key reasons that made even Google give more priority to web apps for search ranking.

Key differences between the websites and web applications

Similarities apart, both websites and web apps have several crucial differences. Over the years, certain aspects that make websites and web applications different from one another include the following.

Interactive elements

The main focus of a website is on offering text as well as visual content that can be seen and read by the users. The scope of interaction here comes through a dialogue initiated by the user requests. When a button is clicked or a form is filled, the server comes with a precise response. The outcome of this interaction can be making a transaction, downloading a file, making queries and getting answers, etc.

Internet banking or e-commerce websites clearly show how this interactivity can facilitate the allowance of transactions. These include making a transfer of payment, buying a product or writing a product review or checking the account balance, etc. There is hardly any website today that doesn’t allow users to interact. Modern websites also incorporate features by using third-party APIs. For example, the integration of Google Map’s unmodernized navigation, social media sharing buttons, and many others takes place through APIs.

Web apps are more interactive in nature while the websites are more focused on content. While balancing the interactive features with quality content, websites always have their focus on content, and web apps are more about facilitating meaningful interactions.

Software Integration

Every website or web app for delivering user-focused features needs to integrate a diverse range of software tools or applications. Now, compared to websites in general, web apps rely more on software integrations through APIs or third-party connectors. This is why modern enterprise web apps find it absolutely necessary to integrate CRM, ERP, etc.

Traditional enterprise websites increasingly turned to fully fledged web apps primarily because of this ease of integrating a variety of third-party software tools representing CRM, ERP, etc. Enterprise web apps are often developed to allow customization for choosing the integration of CRM, ERP, and different tools and functions.


Authentication and permission control

Authentication is a key security feature for any website or web app and which we can not undermine in any circumstance. Apart from the traditional authentication measures such as user login and password for accessing systems, there are several different dynamic ways to safeguard user accounts and user information.

Websites only use very simple and basic user authentication measures while web applications use rigorous authentication measures. There is a multitude of information-centric websites where authentication is not mandatory. The reason being, that most users just need to browse content without requiring to register at all.

Web apps, on the other hand, use more dynamic ways to safeguard user accounts and information. This is through rigorous session control and multilayered authentication processes. Authentication is here more obligatory in nature than regular websites.

On A Final Note

An increasing number of websites are slowly turning into fully-fledged web apps because of the interactive features of the latter. The general content and catering information will decide the popularity of websites. But for more meaningful interactions with users, web apps have now taken the lead.


Tech entrepreneur & Founder of Impero IT Services - an award-winning Mobile app development company! Raza has worked with 500+ clients, from Startups to Enterprise levels. Raza's key expertise in app development, where he assists businesses by creating a roadmap for their digital journey. Raza and the team at Impero are also greatly recognized by Forbes and Clutch for their outstanding services!

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