Narek Bayadyan • Updated on Dec 1, 2021 • 10 min read
The prominence of the Internet has shifted over time, with web applications becoming just as important as websites in daily Internet usage. This seems to be logical as people come to the realization they can do almost everything with web apps. Things like online banking, meal delivery, competitive games, and much more are easily done with web applications.
There are many differences between web apps and websites that everyone who wants to build a site needs to know. This article will cover the differences as well as some key features and use cases to give you a better understanding of how web apps relate to website and how each one functions.
What is a web application and how it works? A Step-by-Step Description.
Web applications are easy to use, as they work on the logic of request and delivery of information. For example, you want to find a group of people who want to compete in an interactive game online. You make your request by clicking the required buttons or by searching specific keywords/tags. After your request reaches the server-side, it comes back with a response. Your next action depends on this response. Your query either had relevant data, or there were no results matching your request. It all will be depicted on the screen with some options, such as “quit”, “retry,” or “change your request”.
Let’s dive into another example with Airbnb. Let’s imagine we use Airbnb to do an apartment booking. We use the search button to search for the apartment we need, and the web app comes back with our search results. We choose the hotel we want, check-in, check-out dates, add the number of guests, then do online booking and pay for the rent. And that’s all. These are some of the examples of how web apps allow users to engage with platforms and perform actions.
Characteristics of Web Application
As we’ve already learned, web apps allow users to not only read the content on the web app but also interact with it. You can modify the data or delete something that you created.
Additionally, web apps might allow you to create your account, connect with other users, send messages, etc.
Why do we need a web app?
1. Improved efficiency
Web applications help you streamline your business processes so that you can get more done in less time and with greater accuracy. What’s more, having all your data integrated into one place gives you greater visibility of your business. A website becomes a web app when the purpose shifts from information to interaction.
One needs a web app when their business involves some sort of online transaction (e.g. booking a flight or apartment) or deeper user interactions (e.g. searching for freelancers), requesting project quotes, editing data, etc. Through a web app, you could request visitors to accept notifications so they’re constantly engaged with updates of your business services.
2. User access levels with broad functional permissions
Web apps have options for different user types: admin user, standard user, premium user, etc. So if you need a business that requires having different user types, the web app is the best match for you. Also, web apps have the added advantage of working across multiple platforms, having a broader reach, and being easily accessible from anywhere. It means that if you need a deeper user engagement, the web app is definitely for you.
What is a Website?
Websites are a group of Internet pages that serve a concrete purpose. Most of the time, websites have one general function: they provide users with information and try to turn them into customers. They are built for different purposes and usually have different UIs. Some of the well-known use cases are:
If you plan to build a website for your business, you need to take into account a few features which are essential for a successful website. Here are some of these features:
1. Static content
Users value the content they read on the website. For that reason, make sure to use fresh, interesting, and high-quality content. You should take a longer time to review and edit your content before making it public. One of the things to consider is having static content. To keep it short, static content is not modified or processed and in such a way reaches the end-users. This is the best way the content stays relevant for a longer period.
Readability is another essential part of your content. So consider your audience beforehand. Use the synonyms and language which will target your audience best. To cut it short, spell correctly, be accurate, be relevant. Two of the best examples are a cooking blog named Little Fat Boyand Intersection.
3. Easier to create and maintain.
It is much easier to create a website than you suppose. There are many easy-to-use website builders through which you can have your website with a few clicks. Nowadays, you don’t need to hire developers to maintain the website.
Having a good website also instantly boosts your credibility as a legitimate business. So here are a few validating reasons for which you need a website.
First of all, websites are vital to showcase your services, indicate skills, or provide information. They will help your business have a better position in the market.
Secondly, websites will save you time. There are many reliable website builders which will help you to have your online business in a few minutes. So, you will not spend much money on building your products. It will also save you time which you can invest in brainstorming other ideas for your business.
Last but not the least, websites will increase customer engagement. Every company experiences customer turnover. A well-optimized website can help your business rank well for a variety of search terms. In this way, it will attract a steady stream of new customers.
Differences between Web Apps and Websites
There are many differences between web apps and websites starting from the building process to the many purposes they are used for. In this section, let’s dive deeper into how significantly different these digital platforms are and their functional pros and cons in different use cases.
A website provides textual content which users can view, read. But this will not affect the site’s functional units. While a web application is designed for interaction with the end-user. The user can manipulate the data by either filling out forms or providing the required data to interact with the app. For example, Airbnb is a web app that allows the user to register, log in, purchase products, do transactions, messages, etc. But Animalz is a website that only provides information on content marketing.
A web application allows performing a lot of actions. It helps to create accounts, add friends, shop, chat, book hotels, edit photos, buy tickets, translate, etc.
A website has limited usage, like showing price lists, contact details, company data, pictures of the offered products. Basic examples are landing pages, portfolios, blogs, etc.
3. Level of difficulty
A website will only display collected data and information on a specific page as searched by the user.
In a web application, the features are more complex as the user needs to manipulate the data. That is, the web app requirements are more complicated which makes the web app a little more difficult.
Authentication is not obligatory for informational websites. On many websites, the user doesn’t need to register to read the data. So validations and authorizations are skipped on websites.
When using web apps, the user needs to fill in personal data, as they need authentication. Authentications also solve security issues. In this way, the web app becomes a more reliable and interactive tool for personal information.
You can make websites with a few clicks. For that reason, you just need to use website builders and make it in a few seconds. Or you can have coding done for your websites. But it will take a longer time, resources and will cost you more money.
Yet, web apps are more complex tools as the application lifecycle requires sprints and prechecking activities. Implemented changes don’t go live immediately as it is obligatory to check all related data. It is done to be sure you don’t affect users’ data.
There are also no-code web apps. No-code web apps are the perfect example of SaaS companies. They help citizen developers build their desired web apps.No-code has come around a long way, starting from WordPress in 2003 to more recent no-code web apps like Softr, Bildr, Webflow. All of them ensure that web apps are made in high quality, taking into account user interaction and data manipulation.
No-code web apps will also help you out in the difficult process of building well-functioning and beautiful web apps/websites. They ensure you build your digital products with almost no effort and in less amount of time. Softr, for example, has many integrations, ready-to-use templates, and blocks to allow you to create your own client portals, online community softwares, web apps, and websites directly from your Airtable data. To better understand what to do with the no-code tool, check outSoftr docs to find everything you need to get started
Now you know the when the why and the how of working with web apps and websites. Their differences are also important to know when considering the type of digital product you want to build. If you are still in dilemma, check out our templates,use cases for ideas and inspiration. Keep in mind the business goals, products, or services you offer to make the right choice.
Softr is an easy-to-use no-code platform that turns Airtable bases into powerful web apps and client portals. Softr offers a way for you to authenticate your end-users, control access to your content and data based on conditional rules like roles, logged-in status, subscription plans, etc. If you're using Airtable as a product catalog you can use a Softr template to build your e-commerce website. Or maybe you'd like to build a custom website for your travel journal, there's a template for that too!