Does Your Business Need a Website, Or A Web App?

Oct 21, 2020

Last Updated: 2020-10-30

Many business owners starting out right now, know they need a website. A consistent online presence that can market and attract new leads while you handle back of house shenanigans. In a world filled with apps, a question often asked is: What is the difference between a website and a web-enabled application? If you ask me this question more than once, there’s a high chance you’ll get several different answers. Even other professionals struggle when trying to explain the difference. On their face, they sound descriptively the same. Each option shares being accessed through a web browser. Both have you clicking links to navigate to different sections, and both can have login pages.

Often developers joke that the difference between a website and a web application is a couple thousand dollars. While high-larious, we can breakdown the difference simply:

  1. Websites disseminate information
  2. A web app created to serve a specific function through user interaction

We use both daily, and in a lot of casual cases, the line stays blurred. Sitting at the screen after logging into Facebook, you’ve got a website if you don’t interact with anything else. But, as soon as you begin to interact with its interface, its programmatic backend algorithm’s kick in. Studying what you watch, like, dislike, interacting with co-workers, former classmates, etc. and providing suggestions for the next time you logon. Simply, a web app is a fully functioning application that runs on a remote server and requires user interaction.

Google Web App screen in Chrome
Brief web app list in Google Chrome

Simplify web apps… more… please?

We can expound on this even further though, to even better understand their subtle but important differences:

  1. Websites are primarily informational. They provide content for visitors in a traditional sense, seek the information, find the information, and go about your day.
  2. Web apps are made for interaction. They allow you to interact with an interface to complete tasks. You can send emails, write and save documents, and check the latest trends in any desired industry. I’m sure you were able to fire off a few examples just by my mentioning them. Gmail, Google Docs, and maybe Pintrest. Good job!
  3. Apps and sites aren’t entirely divorced of each other. The most important fact about websites and web apps is that they aren’t mutually exclusive. Therefore, websites can contain applications that users can interact with. Like, an online learning website with a web app to help its users code along with the video.

If you’re still as confused (and I won’t blame you), let me reiterate that web-based applications require user input, data processing, and the performing a set of functions. While a website can have embedded web apps, the growing trend is to offer complete software solutions through browsers. Think Canva, or Google’s productivity suite (Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides, etc).

Need help deciding if your business needs a website or a web application? We at TopOut Group have a wide array of services that can help your business. Contact us today to learn more about how we can take your business beyond the summit!

 

Christopher Snelling

Christopher Snelling

Working as a professional developer and project manager for the last 8 years. Specializing in JavaScript frameworks and SEO, Chris has been a valuable asset to TopOut from day one.

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