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Web Application Development vs. Website Development: How They Differ

Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 11:21 am

To stand out among the many competitors in the digital space, a business needs to create a unique and functionally effective web product. And at this point, companies face a choice of which web resources they will use to interact with their consumers. Having ordered a website to a development team, a company may soon be faced with its limited functionality. And the reason is not that they came across an unqualified team of developers. The problem is that when they ordered a website, they actually wanted to get a web application.

Many people confuse them. That is why before you start creating your digital milieu, it is important to know the differences between them. Find out the fundamental distinction between these two types of web resources. Learn how a web app development service can significantly increase the attractiveness of your business project and improve the user experience.

The Main Purpose of the Website and Web Application

Digital space has static and interactive elements. For example, in relation to e-commerce, websites serve as static elements. They are similar to offline store windows. Walking past them, you can see what products the store offers, whether there is a sale or a new collection, and with which prices the seller is trying to attract you. However, to start interacting with the shop assistant and choose and buy something, you need to go inside. The same is true for web resources:

  • Websites are designed to promote the company’s brand and introduce visitors to the products and services offered. They have textual, visual, and auditory content. However, they have very few elements for interacting with consumers.
  • Web applications are designed to provide company services in the digital space. The word “web” is added to the “application” because they do not need to be downloaded — the program is launched directly from the browser.

Therefore, when creating a web application, developers face much more complex tasks. And only by turning to highly professional custom software development services, you will receive a flawlessly functioning web product with exclusive design.

Key Differences Between Web Applications and Websites

User Interaction

  • Websites offer visitors very limited ways to interact with content. The user can visit all pages and open tabs, but they cannot influence the digital product in any way. The typical exception is the opportunity to send a message to customer support or leave a comment.
  • Web applications have many interactive elements that allow consumers to make purchases, edit texts or photos, order tickets, play games, etc.


  • The website is the same for all visitors. It may offer customization options for personal preferences but very limited ones, for example, choosing the language for viewing the site.
  • The web application allows a registered user to create their own highly customizable environment.

Ability to Solve Multiple Problems

  • The website solves a limited number of tasks, the main ones of which are informing visitors and getting feedback from customers using a special form.
  • A web application can solve as many problems as the client needs. In addition to selecting and paying for goods, this could be a built-in messenger, the ability to book various services, a space for joint communication work on a common product, etc.

Data Handling

Websites and web applications are designed to work with different types of data:

  • Websites offer static information that is universal and relevant over time.
  • Web applications allow you to handle dynamic data, updating them in real time. For example, it could be currency quotes, weather data, received messages, etc.

Development Complexity

  • Websites can be created not only by amateur programmers but even by non-professionals using special simplified tools.
  • Web applications require much more highly qualified programmers, the need for database integration, etc.

Technologies Used by Development Teams to Create Websites and Web Applications

If the customer wants a simple website, then knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript will be enough to create it. If a company asks for a web application, developers will need more advanced programming skills and many auxiliary tools:

  • Programming languages: Python, Java, Ruby, PHP, C#, Go, etc.
  • Server technologies: Apache, AJAX, Nginx, etc.
  • Libraries: React.js, Vue.js, etc.

Web applications require the creation of frontend and backend, as well as automation, so the development team must include IT specialists of various profiles.

When to Choose Web Application and Website

  • A website is required when you need to make your company known and visible in the digital space. It will help promote your brand and create a marketing channel. A website also gives you the opportunity to keep in touch with your consumers and expand their base.
  • Web applications are more multifunctional. They are suitable for e-commerce, team collaboration, online banking, data and document processing, etc.

When choosing the appropriate option for your company, take into account your goals and tasks with which your web resource will need to cope. If you need to present your company and its products and services to the consumer, then a website will be enough. But if you need to interact with clients, operate with data, and perform many other functional tasks, then only web applications can handle this.

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