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5 main differences between websites and web applications (2022)


Ani Aznauryan

Customer Success Manager

3 minute read

24 May 2022


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Web app or a website? Why? These questions have existed for quite a while. To understand what’s best for you, it is paramount to clearly know the functions of each and to define the differences between the two.

What is a Website?

A website is a group of interlinked web pages with related content specified by a joint domain name. Websites are published on at least one web server and can be accessed via networks like the Internet. They can be developed by an organization, an individual, or a group. 

Examples of websites are Wikipedia, Google, etc. 

What is a Web Application (web app)? 

Web application, also known as a web app, is application software that runs in a web browser. It can be accessed using any web browser. Web applications use server-side scripts (ASP and PHP) to recover the information and manage the storage and client-side scripts (JavaScript and HTML) to deliver information to users.

Web apps examples are Google Apps, Microsoft 365, etc. 

5 differences between a website and a web app 

Let’s get the gist of the distinction between websites and web apps by measuring them against the following 5 criteria:

         1. Users: who is it made for?

Websites store content publicly available to all visitors, while web applications are developed for exchanges with the end-user. 

         2. Authentication

These aforementioned users might be asked to register on websites to get updates, newsletters, or other additional prospects. However, the authentication process is not mandatory for informative websites. On the other hand, all web applications need authentication since their offer has a broader range of options.  

         3. Interaction with users

On websites, users are able to see the visuals and read the information provided, just like web app users. However, unlike web app users, website users can’t make changes or influence its functioning. 

         4. Complexity

Websites depict the accumulated data and information on a separate page, while web apps operate with higher complexity in comparison. 

         5. Deployment

Minor changes in websites do not require a total deployment and re-compilation; just a simple HTML code update is needed. However, all kinds of modifications in web apps require the entire project to be deployed and re-compiled.

Concluding points: which one to choose

         – A website is best mainly for presenting information and few interactions.

         – A web app is a program running in a web browser to perform particular functions.

         – Websites and web applications differ in their users, complexity, interaction techniques,                  authentication, and deployment.