3 Key Differences Between a Web Site and a Web Application

When looking to build a new web presence, most people will say something like “build a website.” Indeed, a website is a virtually universal term for any web property. We’d say that Microsoft and Google have websites, for example.

However, most modern websites are not “websites” at all. In reality, they’re web applications. When you’re looking to create a new presence on the web, it’s essential to understand the differences between these two concepts. If you don’t, you could find yourself building the wrong home on the web!

A Web Site is Static. A Web Application Is Interactive.

Much of the difference between a “website” and a “web application” comes from interactivity.

At its core, a website is essentially a collection of static pages and text that the company or individual interlinks in some meaningful way. So, for example, a group of pages detailing the Solar System would be a website. There would be a homepage listing all the planets and then links to each one. There’s a lot of rich content there but little interactivity.

By contrast, a web application is essentially an app that you would find on your phone or desktop, just on the web instead. Google Docs or Gmail are examples of web applications. These are not just static content. Instead, they are highly interactive web platforms that replace desktop applications.

They Differ in Technologies

A web site can typically have minimalist tech. All you need is a web server, like Apache, and maybe some scripting back-end, like PHP. These simple tech stacks can efficiently serve all your HTML pages. Many people even build websites now using Amazon S3, Azure Storage, or Google Cloud Storage. These simple platforms can efficiently serve up HTML, JS, and CSS.

Since a web application is much more interactive, its underlying tech is also typically more complex. You’ll frequently need back-end servers, database servers, load balancers, scripting languages, AJAX calls, REST APIs, and more to make the application work as expected. While all these technologies are relatively standard, coding your custom web application will take more time and effort to make all these platforms work together.

Web Applications Are More Costly

Creating a web application is more costly because it requires more work. You can often create a simple website in a matter of minutes. Indeed, if all you need are static pages, the design is often much more time-consuming than the actual coding itself!

On the other hand, web applications typically require multiple developers to create a cohesive experience for users. You’ll generally need back-end devs, front-end devs, full-stack devs, and even potentially some specialists to make a web application. While it is possible to hack together a minimum viable product with one person, perhaps, to achieve the scale, performance, and professionalism necessary for a successful web application, you’ll typically need a team.

Ultimately, a longer development cycle, including more coding and testing, makes a web application more costly.

Decide Whether a Web Site or Web Application Is What You Need

If you need primarily static content, you’re looking at a website. On the other hand, if you need a web presence that looks and functions with the efficacy of a desktop application, you want a web app.

At INVID Group, we have experience building both! Please contact us today. We’d love to learn more about your project and see how we can help you turn your dream site or app into reality!

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