Surprised seeing the title? You must be smirking and thinking, really??? Are web applications and websites different? And if at all they are, what are the differences between website and web application? Chill! We answer all your questions in this particular article! Happy reading!
Many people believe anything that exists out on the internet and can be accessed with a browser is a website. Can’t really blame them! But websites and web applications are indeed fundamentally different.
Websites are informational. Web applications does a little more than provide information. They engage. Let’s first start with describing what these terms stand for and later move on to the difference between them.
What is a Website?
Wikipedia says, a website is a collection of related network web resources, such as web pages, multimedia content, which are typically identified with a common domain name, and published on at least one web server. Did this bounce off your head? You are not alone :P Let me explain what a website is in a language which even your grandmother can understand ;-)
Say you want to know what services a company called “A” offers. So, you browse “A’s” website and find what they do, where they are located, their contact information, some case studies, etc. So, you gain a lot of information. This is a Website. You go to know everything about them but there's no way you can do some interactive work with them.
Now let’s move to web application.
What is a Web Application?
Taking another example, an eCommerce site - you enter, you browse, you pick up a product, you pay for it and buy it. Here what was different that you could heavily interact with the site.
Put simply, a web application is simply a web site that heavily interacts with the user. Website is a static set of pages that are only informational for the viewer but doesn’t have the capacity of any interaction or communication. Let’s settle this “web application vs website” debate once and for all.
Difference between a web app and website?
As discussed, a website is developed keeping in mind that users will gain some valuable information from it. The core business purpose of a website is information sharing. Every web page is coded in HTML and all the web pages with the same information are visible to all visitors.
In more technical terms, websites require no server-side processing, only client-side.
Web application, on the other hand, means interaction. Commenting on a post, reserving a table, booking movie tickets and other sorts of interaction is what web applications live for. Web application development is a little complicated than website development as it needs to interact with the server-side database.
Web applications are developed keeping the end users in mind. It is not necessary that two users might see the same information on a web application as opposed to a website.
Websites are not interactive. An interactive website is a web application.
In a website, the users can view and read or listen to the data. But users cannot modify its functioning. In a web application, users still get information, but rather than only reading the content, they can also interact with the content and can also manipulate the data on the page. It facilitates users to be highly engaged with the site.
On the other hand, web applications are highly prone to malicious security breaches. Alongside database, plugins, APIs and other dynamic elements, users can also enter their data and get personalized information. So, a web application has a bigger responsibility to safeguard the data.
Like for example, if your website lets users register or pay, the possibility of SQL injections into site increases. Have a talk with the web development company about the measures they take to reduce the potential threats and then carry on with the development.
In Binaryfolks, to protect web applications against XSS vulnerabilities, we ensure that the pages that are dynamic do not contain undesired HTML tags. We opt for filtering to validate script tags or perform server-side encoding for all scripting tags.
Since web applications let people interact with data and store their information, they need authentication. Authentication is when users require a login id and password to access the web application.
Websites generally can do without authentication as they don’t offer much broader scope of options for the end user. Ex : you have to have a login ID and password to access twitter but you don’t need a login id and password to read articles on Forbes.
 Integration and deployment
A web application requires different sorts of integration.CMS, Payment Gateway, ERP etc are must-haves in a web application. The purpose is to connect multiple applications to create engaging and seamless experiences for the end users.
Both websites and web applications can be integrated with other software but integration is still more typical for web applications.
When it comes to deployment, for a website, the HTML code needs to be updated for small changes. For a web application, all changes require a complete re-compilation and deployment.
When do you need a website? When should you opt for a web application?
Well, if you are a charity and all you want is for your visitors to know the details like where the charity is, what is the cause, the timings etc, a website is all that you need.
But if you are a car selling website where users have to upload the details, images and access maps, maybe even pay for something, you most definitely need a web application.
So, if your aim is only making people aware of your brand, showcase products and services and build social proof, a static website is more than enough. It will help you brand your business and also help capture leads. But when you need to interact with your customers and generate dynamic content for each user based on their preference, web application is the way to go.
The whole idea of what you need - website versus web application depends on your business needs. If you want to know why a website or web application development is crucial for any business, click the link.
Now, for the technical part of the article, just to make sure you are well aware of what goes into developing either a web app or a website, we list some technologies required to develop them.
So, now that we are well aware of the difference between website and web application, let me give you some advice before you opt to develop either of them :
 Always make your website or web app responsive. 52% of global internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Make sure that your website is mobile-ready because if it’s not and users find it difficult to navigate your site on their mobile, they would abandon it and never look back.
 Optimize your website or web app for voice search. 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. You should have a proper SEO strategy in place to take care of all sorts of verbal search queries.
 Speed is one of the most important factors. 1 second delay decreases customer satisfaction by 16%. Convince your visitors to stay in three seconds. Yep, that’s the average opportunity window you have for casual browsers.
 Minimalism, that is synonymous with simplicity is a forever trend when it comes to website development. Make sure the website or the web application is easy to surf and is not redundant. Remember, less is more.
Now that you are well aware of the differences between a website and a web app, you can boast some of your knowledge to your friends and colleagues, because why not ;-) If you are looking to develop one, make sure you are pretty clear with your business needs. If you need a static set of pages to draw attention towards your brand, a web application makes no sense. If you want someone to engage with your website, create a web application. Binaryfolks has 8 years of experience in developing both websites and web apps. Let us help you build the future that you imagined!