Web Application Development vs Website Development: Learn the Differences

The Difference Between: Web Application Development vs Website Development


Web Application Development vs Website Development: Learn the Differences

Did you ever think about the differences between a simple website and a web application? Are they important to know? It is not uncommon for a business to be faced with the question of whether to create a simple website or a web application. Some businesses don’t even know what the differences between each are, and some are just hearing about these terms for the first time.

Whatever stage you’re at, this article aims to throw some light onto these common questions and misconceptions so that you can choose the right option for your business. Understanding the differences will help you not only to understand better what kind of service you need for your business but also to save time and money. And that, after all, is very important. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

What is a website?

Yes, you might be rolling your eyes right now, thinking this one is a question for dummies. However, we can assure you that you’ve likely never actually stopped to think about what a website is in terms of usability.

A technical way to describe a website would be to say that it is a group of interlinked and structured webpages that exist within the same domain. Typically, websites are informational and do not offer much room for interaction. Think about a blog, for example.

Inside a website, a user may find information about your business, its presentation, its services, its blog, and a contact section, but almost no interaction. Don’t get us wrong; a website might be exactly what you need if you only want to put your information out there and have people contact you or perhaps subscribe to your newsletter.

So, if your site is merely informational, you’re good to go. But if you want to include an e-commerce section, you are now looking at another playing field. A simple informational website would be of no use to you here. You will need a more intricate solution. Enter the solution – web applications.

Advantages of a website are:

  • High-Value Content
  • Can Be Searched Through Search Engines

Disadvantages of a website are:

  • It Can Crash, Which Can Potentially Cost You a Lot Of Money and Clients
  • You Could Get Spam E-Mails Through Your Contact Form
  • If It’s Not Properly Optimised For SEO, it Will Not Rank High in the Search Results

“Discover the differences between web application development and website development.”

What is a web application?

A web app is a type of program that is created using a combination of different programming languages, and that only exists on the server. A web app runs using a web browser through a web page, and it is designed to interact with users.

The main difference between web application development and website development is that a web application responds to interactions. It is conceived with that purpose and, even though it can still provide information to users, the goal is to allow the visitor to manipulate data and request information. A good example of a web application is Google Apps.

Another great example is bank websites – you can find the informative section for a person that is not a client and then the web app itself. Also, the bank’s client can log in to their account and make online transactions.

Some characteristics of web applications are:

  • Can Be Cross-Platform
  • Highly Scalable
  • Easy to Test
  • Hosted on The Cloud

Disadvantages of using a web application:

  • It Is Built for a Specific OS
  • Limited Scope
  • Security is Not Guaranteed

What are the differences between web application development and website development?

Let’s dive a little deeper still and let’s take a look at the main differences between web application development and website development so that you can choose the right one for your business.


Right off the bat, we know there is the matter of interactivity available in each format. The original nature of a website is to provide information for the visitors (think about a news website). So, the main interactions one can expect here are the newsletter opt-in and the contact form on the contact us section.

Meanwhile, a web application is conceived to offer a solution to this limitation. Users can not only read the information at their disposal but also manipulate it in some way.

This produces a communication between the user and the business – the user manipulates the information in a certain way, and the web application responds to that interaction. A good example here is a visitor chatting with an AI bot. Another great example of a web application is online shops. By implementing this kind of system, you allow users to easily buy your items via a simple interaction through your website.

Nowadays, it is difficult to find a text-only website because they seem and “feel” dead to visitors. It is advisable to offer at least some sort of minimal interaction so that the site feels alive. Adding interactivity to your website will also reflect in the amount of time people spend navigating your site, and this will also positively impact your search engine organic results.


If you own a website that requires your visitors to leave their personal information, you will need an authentication system. This is of great importance to guarantee the protection of your user’s data and prevent unauthorised access and theft.

Normally, a website does not typically need authentication because it only provides information to its visitors; it doesn’t ask it of them. However, some sites may include it too if they offer more options to registered users. If you have a web application instead, you will more than likely need authentication.

Think about a simple registration form. This needs to include some sort of authentication system; else it could end up with data being stolen. Authentication will also help with spammers.


Having a web application may require you to combine it with other existing software, such as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. This is solely due to the complexity of some systems that may require extra features not included in the web app itself.

In an online retail e-commerce site, the web application will most likely be integrated with a CRM system because it will allow the site to handle and store personal information about its clients, as well as behaviors. This will later translate into a better understanding of your client, increase in sales and better customer management overall.

Can you combine both options?

The straight-forward answer to this question is YES. Even though we started this article, pointing out the differences between the two, it is also worth noting that it does not necessarily have to be the case. It is not mandatory to have to opt for either one of them. You can, and maybe you will have to combine both of them if your business model is complex enough to require this kind of integration.

The decision between having a web application, a website, or both depends entirely on your business models and their particular needs. If you just need an informative site with an opt-in newsletter form, then that should be all. There is no point in making things more complex than that.

If, on the other hand, you need your site to interact with the visitor, or ask the user to enter their personal data, then a simple informative site will be no good. Or perhaps you will need an informative site that includes a register section with more options and interactive features for the user (as we see with a banking site).

However, and regardless of the option you choose to lean towards, you will need to hire an agency to develop your site. This is where knowing enough to differentiate between each option comes in handy.

Web Application Development vs Website Development - Learn the Differences

If you need an informative site or perhaps a small e-commerce store, you can ask any regular agency to develop it for you. Alternatively, if you need a more complex web application development, you will need to find a professional agency that specialises in this sort of work.

You must find an agency that has solid experience developing web applications, as it is a complex task that not everyone can do. Here, at edirect, we offer this kind of service, and we encourage you to get in touch with us if you are thinking of having a web application developed for your business.

Parting thoughts

Choosing between a website or a web application depends solely on your business and its needs. There are stark differences between each, which we have extensively covered throughout the article. But you should have a clearer picture now of which case best suits your needs.

Remember that in some instances, it might be necessary to combine both approaches. But, above all, remember that the most important thing is that if you are going to have a web application developed, you must choose a team of experts with a solid background in web application development. Choosing a seasoned agency is what is going to guarantee your success.

At edirect, we develop web applications, and we can offer you the assistance and expertise that your business needs. No matter the complexity of the web application, we can do it for you. We specialise in this kind of service. So, if this applies to you, we encourage you to contact us.

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