Website vs. Web Application: What’s the Difference?

Website vs. Web Application_ Whats the Difference_

The discussion around a website vs. web application is an interesting one. If someone were to ask you to define a website, you would do that without hesitation. What about a web application, how would you fare? Do these terms refer to the same thing?

Generally, a website relates to a page created and placed on the internet. By using a web browser, you can access any page. You only need to type a few words, and the browser will direct you to the page of interest. However, a web application differs from a website. The latter provides information while the former is interactive.

Website vs. Web Application, an Illustration

For argument’s sake, think of an ordinary restaurant in Singapore. Let us assume that your favorite restaurant has an online presence. If you visit the site via the internet and find that it only shows opening and closing hours and contact details, then that is a website. On the contrary, if the restaurant owners went further and added features such as the ability to make reservations or place online orders for food, then it becomes a web application.

Going Beyond the Gray Area

There is a gray area when it comes to differentiating between website vs. web application. For you to operate both, you need internet connectivity. Besides, access to the two is through browsers. Here now are the qualities that distinguish web applications from websites:

Websites Have an Informational Angle

 End users find no difference while using a site or a web application. However, for an entrepreneur in Singapore, there is a difference. Websites convey information to users, nothing more. Think of the major and minor news sites that you frequent. They only keep you up to date with events in Singapore and other parts of the world. You do not interact with the web page. If you do, perhaps the most you can is to submit your email address and hope that you receive regular newsletters.

Website vs. Web Application – web apps are interactive, sites have few interactions

website vs. web application

With a web application, you not only receive information but also use it in other ways. Singaporean banks are among the most advanced in Europe with highly sophisticated online banking systems. What are some of the features in your online bank app? You can tell how much you have in your bank account at any time. Also, through the app, you can pay for an airline ticket or gas for your car at the pump station.

To take the website vs. web application argument further, on a webpage you can only view the content or read it. You cannot make changes or manipulate the information in any way. For web apps, you are in control. Besides perusing the content, you can play with the data. All it takes is for you to fill a form and submit or click a button. It prompts a response that could be chat, download or request to send payment.

To illustrate, consider social media networks, and there is quite a number. Through these platforms, you can chat with friends and family across Singapore, share photos or videos. Online stores are another perfect example of interactivity. Once you log in to one, you have the option of going through a catalog of items on sale. You choose what you want, place it in an online cart and complete a purchase.

As for websites, there are few interactive features. Usually, a visitor will spend their time reading a post, watching a video or listening to audio content. Dissemination of information bears more weight than user interaction.

Ability to Change or Remain Static

Websites do not require regular updates. Web developers use tools such as CSS (cascading style sheets) and HTML (hypertext markup language) to build web pages. You will also come across some sites developed using JavaScript. For a website, you do not need to use databases or programming languages. On the flip side, web apps cannot be static. They must keep changing mostly due to user interaction, the database application, and content updates.

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Apart from the ease with which developers create them, static websites do not require back-end use. In other words, once your site goes live, you cannot change anything on the pages. If there is a need for adjustments, the creator must make alterations using a coding language. Alternatively, you redesign the site. To understand the website vs. web application concept fully, imagine that the website is a brochure. Unless you create another one, the catalog cannot change on its own.


When you combine different components in a system, you are integrating it. This aspect works perfectly in websites and web applications. However, web apps require more integration than websites. Take an online shop combined with a customer relationship system (CRM). The CRM acts as your database management system and stores customer data. A combination of the two, web app and CRM, allows you to collect information about your customer purchase habits. As for websites, CRM integration is rarely implemented.


Before gaining access to an online system, you must enter a password, login details or both. Unlike websites, web applications require authentication. Social networks operate similarly. You create an account where the system prompts you to have a user login and a password. If you use weak passwords or logins, hackers could access your account.

On the contrary, for websites, there is no obligation for authentication. The only time you need to register or sign-up is when you want to comment on something interesting you have come across. Taking part in discussions also requires registration. Registering helps confirm your identity, plus the system blocks unregistered users and treats them as spammers.

7 Types of Custom Web Applications to Help Simplify and Grow Your Business

It takes a lot of time and effort to identify custom web applications that can nurture a small business into a profitable venture. Having an in-depth understanding of the market alone isn’t enough. To increase sales and gain a competitive advantage in your niche, you must ensure that there’s seamless communication, task automation, and proper work management.

You cannot take care of all critical aspects of your business on your own. There are dozens of custom web application that you should leverage so that you not only simplify your business setup but also grow your business.

Here are seven custom web applications that you can use.

  1. Project Management Systems

Owners of small businesses typically struggle when it comes to visualising everyday tasks as well as tracking their progress. Project management systems incorporate custom web applications that make it easy for you to oversee all aspects of your business.

Project management systems act as the pillar of all your tasks and projects, thus enabling you to manage your work faster, smarter, and more efficiently. Most project management systems come with mobile apps that are compatible with both iOS and Android devices. With these apps, you’ll be able to stay on top of your business.

Project management systems also provide you with real-time charts, which help you monitor the progress of your projects. The dynamic reports that the software offers also help you gain clear insights into the market, thus enabling you to steer your business in the right direction. The time tracking capability of the apps allows you to monitor the time spent on tasks.

  1. Content Management System (CMS)

Any modern business website needs to have a Content Management System (CMS). That simple 5-page website that you may be envisioning for your business cannot help you scale. With CMS backing up your custom web applications, you will be able to bring new leads, thus driving sales.

Similarly, CMS enables you to keep your website content updated, something that plays a crucial role in generating leads. If your site is built with a CMS, you won’t require the services of a web developer to create new blog posts, special reports, white papers, and videos.

custom web applications

Every business has a target market and unique needs. Depending on the needs of your business and the approach that you take towards publishing your content, you certainly need a customised CMS. Nonetheless, standard CMS packages can still work for you, irrespective of whether they are free or need a paid subscription.

  1. Business Process Automation Systems

As you seek to grow your business, there are specific tasks that you need to complete. When you receive a call from new prospects or current clients, for instance, you need to have a software tool that automates the processing of information collected.

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This will allow your business to work efficiently besides helping you save money. Similarly, your employees will be free to focus on value-addition aspects of your business rather than processing communiqué from customers and prospects using online calendars, paper forms, and other related tools.

In this regard, you should find a customised automated tool that enables marketing automation. The tool can undertake everyday tasks such as automated lead generation, referrals, and follow-ups on your behalf.

  1. Customer/Company-Facing Web Portals

In today’s digital world, every Singapore business website needs customised web applications that are either customer or company oriented. A customer-oriented user portal allows customers to get information about you in a self-service way. Likewise, a company-oriented portal will enable employees to get information without making inquiries from their colleagues.

With a web-based user portal, your clients and employees can conveniently view action items, track each item’s status, and also leave messages. This is an effective business strategy compared to instances when everything managed via email or attachments.

  1. Custom Web Applications for Paperless Offices

You will hardly find stacks of papers in the offices of companies that have incorporated custom paperless software into their setup. In any business, there must be documents that need to be filled out by specific people, reviewed, and stored for regulatory purposes.

Keeping bulky documents can make it hard to find specific items whenever a need arises. With a custom software app, you can easily replace all your paper forms with a paperless office tool that is accessible from anywhere. The tool can also be personalised to reflect your company’s workflow.

  1. Membership Site

You can grow your business by proving to the target audience that you are an expert in your industry. Having a membership site will help you leverage the knowledge that you have about your niche. With such a website, you can publish material so that people can learn more about your industry at their pace.

A membership site can earn you money, especially if your material is o availed to paid subscribers only. Once you impose a reasonable fee, the site could be an excellent revenue generator. You will get the opportunity to interact with the target audience and also earn money in the process.

  1. E-commerce Store

Rather than forcing customers to visit your outlet to purchase your products physically, you can grow your business by incorporating an e-commerce store into your website. Custom web applications such as can help you integrate an online store into your business website.

custom web applications

If your business has complex requirements or rules of product sales and returns, custom e-commerce tools will be perfect for you. Whichever path you choose to follow, you should bear in mind that today’s tech-savvy shoppers have a preference towards e-commerce stores compared to brick and mortar stores.


Whether you are seeking business growth or nurturing a start-up, the question of website vs. web application will always arise. Where you need the input of customers and other users, then web apps are an ideal choice. For informational needs, a website will help you achieve that purpose. There is no harm in having both.

We can help your Singapore business win more customers by providing exceptional web design and digital marketing services. The website content will be fully SEO optimized and this will ensure that the site is ranked highly by Google and other search engines. Contact us today for more details.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Social Media


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