Key Differences Between a Web Application and a Website

Key Differences Between a Web Application and a Website

July 12, 2019 14 By Bernardo Ryan



today I want to talk to you about the differences between an informational website and a web application the key question is does your startup need web app or an informational website now for many web users the term website is synonymous with every URL they've ever visited you go to a browser you put in the address and you hit a website the thing is not every URL you visit can be classified as a website now to an end-user the difference really doesn't matter but if you're a business owner and you're looking to build your business online it's important to know the difference this is key to understand because you need to know how to communicate to the web development agency that will build your business not only from the start but also help you scale to the point of reaching the success you plan to make in order to help you differentiate between websites and web applications we're going to discuss some things that can set them apart we're also going to cover the importance of planning for the long term while your business might be in need of a website or informational website initially that doesn't necessarily mean a website is capable of fulfilling your needs down the road now the first point to cover is websites versus web application what's the real difference the truth the matter is this for the end user there is no difference you simply type in your company's URL into the browser and think nothing of it call that whatever you want but from a more technical perspective there are some distinct differences between websites and web applications websites informational websites they're typically just for information think about your favorite blog or news based website its primary purpose is to convey information to the end user as a general rule there is little or no interaction on the part of the visitor other than possibly submitting an email address to receive a monthly email newsletter or performing a search so the real question is how does this apply to you well if you're a local charity who wants to convey information only a homepage and about page contact information upcoming events and maybe a description of how you helped to cause a website might be all you need so now that we've covered information websites let's transfer over to look at the difference between web sites and web applications specifically with web applications they're usually responsible for some form of interaction between users yes they'll still be supplying information but your visitors want to do something with that information or through interaction your visitors may request a different type of information or even manipulate that data a specific example of a website application could be your local library that allows you to search for their catalogue of books and makes a reservation I know what you're thinking who goes to a library website right but just use your imagination your online banking is a web application as well it displays information and performs action based on your input so let's refer back to our local charity as an example only this time they require that visitors are able to register place bids pay for items in a charitable online auction now there's also instances of combining an informational website with a web application for example consider WordPress in its native state it's designed to display information to visitors from that perspective it's clearly a website however on the backend we have a highly customizable and extensive content management system so as your WordPress website just a website or is it really a web application you also need to consider that many web sites are actually website web application hybrids your startup might provide all kinds of information to your users but once they register they could have access to an integrated web application that performs a specific function like in our charity auction example want to touch on our second point this is specially important for you the business owner and that's being clear about your needs it's important to have a clear long-term vision that can help us make sure you're hiring the right agency make sure you have somebody who can really help you not only build the first iteration of your site and platform but also long term you probably understand that not every development company has the right skillset not everybody has the same skill set if you anticipate needing a web application now or in the future it's easier to bring that team right on board from the beginning to explain your goals at least on a high level recently we posted an article about how your website should grow as your startup does in that article we spent a little bit of time reviewing the different phases that a typical startup goes through will we tie those phases together discovery all the way down to scaling and explain how they relate to your web development requirements and also how they relate to hiring the right agency your startup company might only need a simple informational website right to the start but if your long-term goals clearly indicate that a web application will be required at some point that's something you need to start planning for right now doing that will ensure the process flows a lot smoother and doesn't interrupt your business now something else we could take a look at is some additional web application considerations when contemplating a web application or just an informational website it's important to understand that there are additional responsibilities that come with web applications especially if you're dealing with information that's provided by customers visitors and members well web sites are largely informational based a web application often requires input from the user almost all times anytime your users are inputting personal information or payment details you're faced with the responsibility of safeguarding that information an easy example of this is a registration or a payment form that can allow an end user hack into your database and access very important data that could also open up the opportunity to have a potential SQL injection or attack or insert malware into your web site hackers can use automated tools to scan every form of your website looking for vulnerabilities using an experienced web development agency will not only take away that liability from you from the get-go but also help you prepare for the risk that also they've dealt with dozens of times before if customers are required to register to use your web application it becomes your responsibility to safeguard their personal information if you're accepting credit cards or payment information online you'll also face additional requirements like PCI compliance as you're launching your startup there's a good chance that at least initially a simple information based website is all that you need to launch but try to think longer term because even if that's all you need now you're still laying the initial foundation for what your site will become months or years down the road it's always easier to hire an agency who can grow with your startup meeting your development needs as your website transitions from one phase to another from informational to a web application it's always easier to hire web development agency who can grow with your startup meeting your development needs as a website transitions from one phase to the next is easier and less expensive if you hire the right web development team from day one you