Website or Web App: What’s the Difference?

In this digital age, the Internet is used in our day-to-day lives. Its accessibility allows people to have the answers to any of their questions in just seconds, all at their fingertips. However, with that easy access comes the question of what is a website versus a web application?

Increased Internet usage among both businesses and individuals alone has had a major influence on how companies are managed and how brands promote themselves. With this change has come the use of web applications and their increasing popularity. Their main advantages are that they allow users to work across numerous platforms while also being easily accessible from anywhere.

When looking for which websites and applications to use for your business specifically, it is important to note the difference between the two. Looking at their names alone, one would assume that there is no difference at all, but this is not true. We will cover what is a web application and a website, and what are they individually most effective for.

The picture was part of our own communication (product ads). Taken by our editor and photographer Dario in the German coworking space Hafven.

What is a Web Application?

Web applications are a type of computer program accessed by a user through a web browser. They have a variety of interactive elements that can be made for user engagement. Some examples are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Gmail. Other examples include online shopping sites, allowing users to easily search for products they want and purchase them in an instant. Medical or healthcare systems, booking applications, any E-learning platforms, marketplaces, or content managing systems are even more examples. Often connected to a database, the main purpose of a web application is to provide an interactive experience.

Because they are connected to a database, these apps can store, reference, or access the data of that audience to make it easier for brands to deliver the necessary information to their customers. In addition, web applications also allow employees to work collaboratively on projects, regardless of their location or the device they are on.

Being customizable and able to perform a wide range of functionality is the main advantage of a web application vs a website. However, this makes them a lot more challenging to build than websites. It likely would require a knowledgeable team of software developers to be able to create a good web application.

Using Web on iPad

Website Versus Web Application Comparison

Now that we know more about what a web application is, we can begin to understand how it differs from a website. When considering which to use, it is important to understand what they each have to offer. Knowing this, as well as each one’s unique advantages and disadvantages, will allow you to more accurately decide which would benefit your company the most. Let’s dive in and compare and contrast a website vs web app.

What Makes a Website?

Created with just static content, a website is made to be publicly accessible to anyone and everyone. It can provide both visual and text content that viewers can see, but not manipulate or alter. Authentication on an informational website is also not required for users, but if done, viewers may register and get updates or exclusive additional features that would otherwise be inaccessible.

A website’s main task is to display information, facts, or data on a specific page. It can help a brand display product information and services, contact details, price lists, special offers, gain new clients and customers, increase sales, and improve brand recognition. A website is also its own finished product and can be a stand-alone software accessed through any internet browser. When making tweaks to the site, all that is required is an updated HTML code.

A website is not as advanced as a web application and is typically easier to set up. There are many ready-to-use widgets that can be used for a cheap price or even free and are easy to add to the site. On its own, a website can showcase the necessities and background of the company. However, in the future, web applications may prove to also be useful in providing the viewers an interactive and engaging experience.

Website Disadvantages

Although easy and accessible, a website does have its disadvantages – one of them being the chances of it crashing. Scrolling through a site only to have it shut down is a major inconvenience that can harm your business. Any contact information you put on it may also result in unwanted spam e-mails or calls, as this can be accessed by anyone. With a website, the information on it must also be updated regularly if it is regarding a topic that can be changing over time. Failure to update can result in untimely content and misinformation.


What Makes a Web Application?

Web applications work a little differently than websites because of their complexity.

Being created and designed specifically for interactions with users, web applications have content that can be changed or engaged with. Viewers can both read and manipulate the data presented. Web applications also need authentication, because of the fact they offer a broad variety of interactive options for their users. Authentication is especially a necessity for applications that secure personal information unique to a user.

Unlike a website, the function of web applications is much more complex and do more than just present information. Web applications are also a part of the website. It is not a complete website on its own. To run successfully or be used, it must be within a site. Unlike websites needing just a simple change in code, web applications would require the entire project to be re-compiled and then pushed outwards again.

Web Application Disadvantages

With its wide range of possibilities, web applications look like a good idea for any business or brand. However, like a website, they have their fair share of disadvantages. Security on web applications is not guaranteed, leaving it to be vulnerable to unauthorized access. The web application may not support multiple browsers equally as well as a website would, too. If someone were to want to download it, it may be difficult to find through their app store because web applications are made for specific operating systems.

Workhard Anywhere

Websites and Applications

While both websites and applications have their pros and cons, each has its own unique advantages and tools to offer. A website can be thought of as a place to find globally accessible, interconnected web pages and information. Meanwhile, a web application is a program that is only accessible through a web browser. Applications are typically used for interactions with its users.

Websites are key in developing the brand for a business, but require information to be up-to-date. If all the business needs is a place to showcase company data, contact details, photos of the offered products, etc., a simple website will suffice. A blog, landing page, or portfolio are some examples of website styles many companies use for their brand. If your brand needs a page to simply display information about them, then a website is the best option.

In web applications, content is hosted by the Cloud and accessible through any web browser. With this information being on the Cloud, updates are regularly put out, so viewers can see the most updated version at all times. Web apps can do anything from handling transactions to creating playlists and organizing content. If you want to create a place that is more advanced and engaging for your brand, then a web application is for you. In addition, if you need capabilities like online transactions, then a web application would be more suitable. Web applications also provide that added high-security protection level, which is another benefit. The most important takeaway is to compare their capabilities to your needs to figure out what is most suitable for you.


  • What are examples of web applications?
  • Do I need a website or a web application?
  • What are the benefits of web applications?
  • How do I know if a web application or website would be better?
  • What are the disadvantages of a website?

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