What Is a Web Application?

Published on July 7, 2021

If you are not profoundly into tech, your first association with web applications might be that they are ordinary websites. However, they do have differences. Websites and web applications are built using slightly different technologies and perform different functions. So, before this article introduces you and lets you know how to create web applications, let's define their difference from websites first. 



Website vs. Web Application


It's expected that, as a user, you may consider the website and web application to be the same. For using both, you need an Internet connection and a browser. Also, you will have similarly designed user experiences in web pages and web applications. 


But, if you need to choose which one to build for your business, there is a need to dig deeper to understand differences. 


To be short, let's state the following. When you're on a web resource that contains certain content and does not allow you to interact with it, that's a pure website. Once you see the content and have opportunities to interact with it and perform certain activities, that's a web application. 

Related Article: The Ultimate Beginner Guide to Web App Development

Don't be confused. Here are some practical examples.

Websites vs Web Apps

Source: T3kniq.com

Web versions of Airbnb, GetYourGuide, Fiverr, Delivery Hero, Udemy, and similar platforms are all web applications because you have many interaction functions there. Firstly, you perform user authentication and acquire a membership to use the platforms. Further, you perform various activities such as renting a house, applying for jobs, paying for training, getting certificates and much more. You may upload photos, videos, comments, and so on if you've accessed the platform to suggest products and services yourself. 


Portfolios of professionals are a great example of websites. You visit such pages for purely informative purposes. You navigate the content, but there is no element for interaction. For example, look at the website of an advertising agency. The most interactive thing you can do here is to click on the "Connect" section. It will take you to clickable forms of the company's e-mail address and social media. Once you click any contact channel, it will take you out from the website to the web applications. In web apps, you can write messages to the agency. However, on the website itself, you can't do much apart from viewing the content.




How do web applications work?


There are strict technological processes behind even the simplest activities we perform on web applications.



The three main components of web apps are


  • Frontend;
  • Backend;
  • Database. 


The interdependence among those three components makes user actions possible in web applications. The front end is the interface users visually interact with. Here is where the user's requests are sent, and the responses are sent back. For proceeding with the user's requests, there is a backend application server, which users do not see. The requests from the frontend are sent to the backend, which implements the users' required action by querying the database. After the necessary information is possessed from the database, the backend sends it back to the frontend. They transfer it to the user, and the user's required action is completed. 


Web applications are also classified into two main sections: Static and Dynamic.


Static web applications 

They are not very flexible in terms of adding or modifying content. Users can perform basic activities like searching or filtering the presented information, reading it, etc. 


Dynamic web applications 

Provide significantly more flexibility for adding and modifying content. Users can upload different types of content, construct the information they want to see based on their preference, etc.




How to create web applications?


Developers need to use two types of languages to create a web application that will operate successfully.


Server-side programming language

It's the backend skeleton of the application. The server-side script is responsible for storing and retrieving the information. Usually, developers use languages like Python or Java to write this section of the app. 


Client-side programming language

Its goal is to organize the presentation of the final content to the users. Client-side scripts need to be browser-supported, as otherwise, the web app will not be accessible through browsers. The common languages for client-side scripting include JavaScript and HTML/CSS.




The benefits of the web application


There are many, including:


  • Web applications can be directly opened in browsers, and there is no need to download them in advance and occupy the device space.
  • The app is directly updated on the server and then is available to all the users with the same final version. There is no need to wait for the user's update approval for that.
  • Web applications can be used on any platform, and there is no need to have specific iOS or Android approval for them. 
  • The maintenance costs for the businesses that have web applications are low. 
  • Web applications in most cases are responsive and therefore can be accessed via the phone's built-in browser. Users can use them via their phones without the need to download them.




Why might I need a web app?


You got it from the information above!


If your business depends on online activities from the customers' side, refer to the web application developers. There is a much better and cost-effective option: using no-code platforms like Softr to create a web app with your dream functional. They will create web apps for your company with many interconnected features. Depending on your specific needs, you can request user authentication, online payment, chatting, commenting, information uploading, and other functions for your web app. 




Is it expensive to create a web app for my business?


It can be expensive if you refer to a team of developers. Creating a web app is a time- and effort-consuming process, so you should expect to pay around and more than $50,000 for it. The price varies based on which type of app you want and what functions you wish to add to it. There are standard technical features such as user registration, which do not present a difficulty for developers to add. However, creating an e-commerce application requires things like payment integrations. To add features like this, developers use API (Application Programming Interface), which adds time, effort, and hassle. Consequently, such features are going to push the application development price higher.




The more time- and cost-effective option


The above paragraph describes one scenario for web application development. It’s the traditional approach of hiring a team of developers or referring to a web agency. As an alternative, faster, and more cost-effective solution, you can develop web applications using no-code tools that don't require any coding knowledge.


No-code is the new era of business opportunities, just like traditional coding was in the late 1950s. Do not hesitate to become among the pioneers of its beneficiaries!

About Softr

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!