Website vs Web App

The terms “Website” and “Web App” are often used interchangeably and confused at times. In fact, they mean different things and have a world of difference between them. In this article, we will get into what each of these terms means and the various differences between them.

What is a Website?

A website is essentially just interlinked web pages that could be accessed via the internet with a domain name. Websites are usually one-way informational feeds, which means that users only receive information from the website and do not input or communicate back to the website.

Websites could be built by anyone, ranging from individual websites to big corporate websites. They could be built by HTML, CSS or JavaScript and are static in nature.

What is a Web App?

Web Apps, on the other hand, are websites with the addition of features that allow for functionality and interactivity. This means that are dynamic and change accordingly to the input by the user.

Web Apps as compared to just websites are harder to build because they require more expertise and more complicated coding.

Web applications could be accessed through any web browser and could cater specifically to the individual user, hence providing better user engagement.

Now that we have defined the two terms, let’s get into the detailed differences among them and why one is better than the other.

User Interaction

While websites are usually full of useful information, such as the specific details about a product, blogs and guides, but there is little to no emphasis on user interaction. The most common user interactions on a website are just in the “Contact Us” tab, where users might fill up a form with their particulars or input their emails for a mailing list subscription.

Web Apps, on the other hand, centres their design around user interaction. It is not uncommon for web apps to have outstanding user-experience and interaction features, such as customisable options of product showcases to the user’s needs.

Problem-solvers

As mentioned earlier, websites do present a vast amount of information to the users but do not particularly solve their problems. Rather, web apps are usually created to provide a solution, rather than just mere information, to the user. Example, Spotify, which is a music streaming subscription web app, provides the user with a seamless experience of having a playlist and ease of browsing through countless songs across different genres, countries and languages. Thus, web apps like this solve problems and provide a service to the user.

Features

If you compare the features of a website and a web app, the web app will definitely have more features. This is because web apps are meant to be functional and provide features like location-tagging, ordering, or tracking. These features could all be personalised according to each user.

Control

A website does not allow the user to control the information and content on it. Example, you cannot filter or change the content on a blog page to cater to your own preferences. However, in a web app like Youtube, you could select and watch certain videos that you like, and Youtube will suggest more videos based on the type of videos you have watched. This shows that users have more control over the content in a web app than he or she would on a website.

Integration

One area of web apps that outshine websites is the availability for integration. Integration means to bring different platforms or databases together to form a bigger system. A common integration of web apps is with ERP and CRM systems because web apps usually need data and information from these systems to operate and customise their user experience accordingly to each and every customer. Example, MailChimp is an email automation web app which allows for each email to be customised to the individual recipient, and also, all replies and other actions could be captured straight into the CRM once the web app is integrated with it. This makes it easier for the company to access the information and also put customer data into good use for their future actions. In case you are wondering, websites could also be integrated into systems like these, but it is not common as it is not the main function of a website to do so. A website’s main function is to provide information to the audience and unlike web apps, a website does not customise its content unique to each user.

Authentication

Today, it is more important than ever to protect your personal information against unauthorised access. So the authentication is important for both websites and web apps alike. However, it could be more commonly used in web apps, simply for the fact that web apps are more personalised and could require logins to personal profiles. Example, a banking web app would definitely authenticate who you are before letting you gain access to your banking details.

Conclusion

All in all, both websites and web apps are still required in this day. They both play a different role, with websites providing information and web apps providing more user interactivity. There are some clear advantages of using a web app in terms of user experience, particularly in this modern day of customer’s expectations. Web apps could also provide more functions to cater to these needs.

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