If you’re reading this, then chances are you don’t know the difference between a website and a web app. And maybe you’re not even sure why you should care about it. But the thing is, if you’re a business owner or plan to become one in the nearest future, you should be able to tell the difference to get the most out of your web presence.
This article will tell you not only about the main differences (website and web application development cost, functionality, purpose) but also about the business scenarios in which you should opt for one or another.
The difference between a website and a web app
It is safe to say that the definitions of a website and a web app may be confusing as the concepts have a lot in common. But there are several key differences that you should know about.
Keeping it short: websites are more straightforward, and web apps are more complex. A website usually contains several pages with relevant content depending on the website’s purpose. A web app usually implies more complex functionality than that. It may include several user roles, payment gateway, file upload system etc.
Even if the website contains many different pages with diverse content, it’s still easier and quicker to develop than the app. In fact, it’s so easy that numerous online website builders (free and paid) blossom and help thousands of entrepreneurs all over the world each day.
You can’t pull that trick with web app development. It is a type of software that requires both time to create and expertise in several back-end and front-end technologies. Therefore, hiring a web development team is mandatory if your business needs a web app.
For the most part, a website doesn’t implicate much user interaction. There’s usually a bare minimum like a comment section and a contact form, but that’s pretty much it. On the other hand, web apps are built specifically to give the user/customer an opportunity to interact with the product.
That is why an “e-commerce website” or a “social media website” isn’t commonly a website but a web app. The user interacts with the software by placing orders, leaving reviews, uploading multimedia, communicating via voice/video chats, etc.
Need for integration.
Integration is what makes web apps so comprehensive. Third-party services allow the users to complete various tasks and enjoy the offered content. It might be a CRM, a chatbot, an SMS notification system, etc. The list is truly endless, and its length depends only on your business requirements and available budget. The list of 50 most popular APIs by a popular directory, RapidAPI only proves the point. Modern APIs are diverse and can help you with almost any task: from the document flow and current financial charts to daily horoscopes and sports live scores.
Websites also may require some sort of integration (like a CRM mentioned above), but it’s usually minimal and always optional. A website can be fully functional and beneficial without third-party integration.
Another element that is vital for web apps and optional for websites. Web apps basically can’t function without user authentication for safety reasons. Most apps (especially e-commerce and healthcare ones) contain some sort of personal data and sensitive info. It may include name, DOB, address, credit cards/PayPal, other financial info, a phone number, etc. All of this is a prize for frauds and scammers. So, no wonder any entrepreneur willing to interact with the customers online shouldn’t neglect extra security measures and the authentication process.
On the other hand, websites may use authentication to provide the visitors with some additional info or functionality (like an ability to rate the content or leave comments once logged in). But it’s not obligatory, and this step can be easily skipped.
A website or a web app, which one do I need?
Now that the line dividing websites and web apps has been drawn, it is time to answer the ultimate question: which one does your business require? The wrong choice, in this case, can make or break a business. And that’s not an exaggeration.
When to choose a website?
A beautiful modern website is perfect for the brands willing to make a name and make a statement. It’s a great way to get future customers a chance to know your business. Websites are vital for companies offering products or services that can’t be purchased online directly (all types of on-demand services, IT services, design, etc.).
It’s also an amazing choice for a comprehensive online portfolio. The audience will get a chance to appreciate your talent and skill and then get to you using the contact info from the website.
A website is also a great branding tool. It showcases and supports your corporate style and makes it recognizable. With the help of a website, the audience will not only hear about your business but will actually see it, and have a secure communication channel.
When to choose a web app?
A web app is a way to go if you either plan to sell products/services directly online or if you’d like to build a feature-packed platform and monetize it. It is still essential to have a clear concept and a coherent idea before actually diving into the development phase. However, it’s safe to say that a web app offers more monetization methods than a website.
Another perk of a web app is it’s usually cross-platform, can be accessed 24/7, and, unlike mobile apps, doesn’t require approval from any app store. It means that once the app is deployed, the users can interact with it, and you don’t have to waste time and money trying to get it on display.
In the end, it’s up to you which choice to make and which direction to go with your business web presence. We just hope that this article will lift some weight off your shoulders and be somewhat helpful in your business journey. Best of luck!