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
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
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.
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.
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