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Difference between a website and a web application?

website and a web application

Difference between a website and a web application?

It can be difficult for the end user to understand the difference between a website and a web application. He just enters the URL in the browser’s address bar (follows the link) – and boom! – Here is the result.

And for the user, it is important just to get what they wanted. If this was done, the user doesn’t care about anything else.

But if you are a developer, you are the one who creates these products for users. So you should be well versed in how they differ from each other. But do you catch the difference between websites and web applications?

In general, there are different opinions on this among developers, but in this article we will try to highlight the key differences that help me navigate myself.

What is a website?

A website is a set of interconnected web pages containing images, text, audio, video and other content. The site can be single- or multi-page, and its content can be plain text, or it can contain different media.(If you are interested in this topic, read our article on how to create your own website)

Sites are very different:

  • dating
  • sites blog
  • sites community sites
  • educational sites search
  • engines, etc.

Examples of sites: Wikipedia, Google, Amazon, Craigslist.

Distinctive features of sites

  • The site is user friendly
  • It is easy to find the necessary information using a search engine
  • It displays quality content
  • It has a simple and accessible navigation.

Why you might need a website

  • To show your products (If you don’t know how to present your company, read our article, all about content development on the website)
  • To promote your business brand
  • To show people what you are doing and what you have already done
  • To ensure your online presence so that customers can find you 

What is a web application?

A web application is a program that you can access using a browser. We can also say that web applications are sites with rich functionality and interactive elements.

Web applications are highly customizable. They can solve a number of tasks and have extensive functionality. In general, it is more difficult to create an application than a website, this requires an experienced development team.

Examples of popular web applications: Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Adobe CC, YouTube.

Distinctive features of web applications:

  • They are most often cross-platform, i.e. they can work on any platform
  • Applications are easily tested by automated tests
  • Placed in the clouds

Why you might need a web application: To organize access to data from both mobile devices and computers, from any platform and through any modern browser.

Key differences between websites and web applications

  1. User Interaction

The sites host content that the user can read, watch and listen to, and this does not affect the operation of the site in any way. In a web application, the user not only consumes content, but also manipulates data. To interact with the application, the user can, for example, fill out some forms or provide some data.

  1. Authentication

Authentication is not required on regular websites. However, the user may be asked to register in order to gain access to additional functionality or to subscribe to updates. Authentication is required in web applications. They offer a much wider range of functionality and opportunities for interactive interactions with the user than a simple website. To use all this, you need to log in to your account using your username and password.

  1. Solved tasks and complexity

The site only displays the data contained on a specific page and requested by the user. The web application performs more complex functions.

  1. For whom

The sites contain mostly static content. The information on them is usually open to all visitors. Web applications are created to interact with the end user. Without entering a username and password, you will not get access to the data.

  1. Deployment

If we are talking about a website, making simple changes will never require a complete re-compilation and deployment. You will only need to update the HTML code. In the case of a web application, when making changes, you will need to recompile and deploy the program.


Website development is a relatively simple process. Creating a web application requires more in-depth knowledge, experience and planning.

I hope that after reading this article you will better understand the difference between websites and applications and will be able to navigate what exactly you need in this or that case.(If you are still thinking what is better to choose for you, read the article on this topic.)


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