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

web app vs website

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 the hardware you’re using, so they can be used on any platform, and they don’t have to be installed on your computer.

Today, we can see the growing popularity and use of web applications because they can meet many business needs. Plus, well-designed apps increase user engagement and provide a positive experience to customers.

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 main web app vs. website differentiations is functionality. A website mostly consists of static visual or text content that usually comes with an informative purpose. A web app, on the other hand, is designed for interaction with the end-user.

For instance, the main purpose of a company’s website is to provide basic information about the organization through photos, contact information, and so on. It’s not supposed to require any extra activity from a user. However, modern websites usually contain small web application elements.

Overall, a web app is more advanced and contains dynamic elements. Users can perform various actions based on their input, such as booking a ticket, entering and transferring data, or making payments. Examples of widely used web applications are social media sites, such as Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter.

2. Technology

While websites are built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, web applications require backend creation using various technologies, such as PHP and Node.js, and additional 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 a great technology for building dynamic web applications. The language is quick and simple to deploy, thanks to several PHP frameworks and heavy-load libraries. Some 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 is successfully used 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 components that improve functionality. The top Angular-based apps are Gmail and PayPal.

Vue is a framework for building engaging user interfaces. With great integration capabilities, flexibility, scalability, and time-saving components, developers can quickly build web applications.

3. Project size and the client’s needs

As you can see, a lot depends on the business’s needs. Both websites and web applications can be integrated with other software, but the complexity of web apps requires more backend work.

Because of the greater number of functionalities, web apps are generally more difficult to build. But they are more effective when you need a solution based on user interaction.

Web application or website: know your needs

You now know the website and web application differences, 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 for you to pinpoint your needs.

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