Every day, we hear people talking about websites and web applications. More often than not, these terms are used interchangeably. If you ask Siri or Alexa the meaning of these two, chances are you will end up with similar definitions.
Additionally, you need internet to access both website and web applications, both have some front-end and back-end programming languages and you access both with the help of your web browser. These features might make both website and web applications seem the same, but there are some fundamental differences.
Let us start with an example. Suppose, you are planning a party and are looking for a place where you can host it. So, you search in the web for party venues nearby and come across Nava Durga Party Venue. Here, you will find some information about the party venue, their services, some photos, and some other details. The point for notice is you cannot interact with it in any way; it just acts as a center for information. This, in its essence is a website.
On the other hand, if you visit sites like Americar, you will find all the company related information, and can do even more stuffs. You can book a ride from the site itself, create profile and keep track of your trip information. In simple terms, you can “interact” with the site. This is what makes Americar web application and not a website.
Authentication is the need for user log in and password to gain access to any system. It is essentials for web software that require user’s personal information. It is necessary to ensure security of user account in order to prevent unauthorized access and leakage of sensitive information. Authentication is one of the key points in differentiating websites and web applications.
In websites, most of the time, authentication is not mandatory. You may be asked to provide your emails or other credentials, but many times it is just for when you want to message the company, or comment on their website’s content.
On the other hand, web applications mostly require authentication, the major reason behind this is that they offer more features than just information. For instance, if you visit Americar, you will not only see the company information, but you can also book a ride from the browser itself. For this, to determine that you are an authentic user, you need to create an account and provide your credentials.
Like authentication, integration is also more common in web application than in websites. Integration is the incorporation of various components so as to develop a broader system with added functionalities. Usually, business web applications are integrated with a CRM system which stores necessary information which can be easily accessed by the employees. This integration with CRM automatically collects information from the customers and enables employees to improve their customer relationship by replying to queries faster, studying customer behavior and providing services based on their consumption habits, etc.
Although integration is most common in web application, it does not mean that websites cannot be integrated at all. Even though website can be integrated with CRM, it is taken more as an “add on” feature to provide personalized contents, and not as a part of the actual website development package.
As I have already mentioned in the beginning of this blog, the most basic way to differentiate between a website and a web application is interactivity. Websites are typically informative, they provide you with information, either in the form of text or pictures, but that’s the extent of it.
Whereas, a web application, in addition to information, lets you use the data and make interactions. This interaction can take various shapes such as filling out a form and getting a response, purchasing goods or services electronically, getting online chat support, and more. The best examples of web application would be Facebook, Pinterest, etc.
With the distinctions I have listed above and your business’ long-term vision, making the right choice should be somewhat easy. If you are looking for a way to only provide basic information to your potential customers by providing business details and make it easier for them to contact/locate you, it might be better for you to go with a website. But, if your business plans on selling products, providing services or something that requires customer interaction and other features, then web applications will be the best option for you.