Web applications vs. classic websites: what’s the difference?

Web applications

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What is the difference between web applications and classic websites? What is important for each? Learn this and more in the guide.

Web apps VS websites: see who wins!

In order to clarify the difference between web applications and websites, we would first like to answer the question of how to distinguish all web applications from other app formats, such as mobile apps or desktop applications. Both websites and web applications:

  • Are called up via a browser and operated in a browser.
  • Do not have to be installed locally for users.
  • Require a good Internet connection at least initially (service workers allow Progressive Web Apps to cache data, but the content must first be loaded).
  • Consists of a front end and a back end.

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Let’s now return to the question asked: what is the difference between web applications and websites when the two formats have so many common characteristics? To compare a web application and a traditional website, we use three distinguishing criteria to determine together with you which format best suits your business needs.

Web application or website: what is important?

In order to draw the line between a web application and a website, we describe below how high the level of such aspects as interactivity, integration, and automation is in the two web solutions.


Interactive systems offer a user a variety of ways to establish interrelations between the user and the application.


A classic website primarily serves to inform users. It consists of both visual (photos and videos) and textual content that a visitor can view and read. But users have no way to influence this content. Classic examples of websites are informative websites of companies or institutions, thematic blogs, or news portals.

Web application

A web application is available to users to fulfill a specific purpose: editing images, writing documents, placing orders, and more. Unlike the website, web applications contain numerous interactive components that allow a user not only to read the content on the pages but also to edit, modify and even delete it.

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A website can also have individual interactive elements, but interactivity is not the focus. A web application, on the other hand, thrives on interactions with users that take the form of a dialog: a user can, for example, press a button and send a form or receive a response to the request. The interaction can also take place automatically through a chatbot or via live chat.

A vivid example of a web application is an online banking app that allows a user to perform different transactions. You can also see a high degree of interaction in an online shop: interactive catalogs with animated videos, clickable buttons, interactive infographics, product recommendations by linking to similar products, and also rating options. In order to attract and engage potential customers, shop operators attach particular importance to making their online shop as user-friendly as possible.


It means that different components are merged to create an environment for achieving common goals through seamless connection.


Both websites and web applications can be integrated into the existing IT landscape (CRM, ERP, DMS, BI, etc.). The integration of a website with the CRM system makes it possible to create personalized content available to users. Social media plug-ins from Facebook, Twitter, Xing, LinkedIn, and other services or networks can also be integrated into the website.

Web application

For web applications, numerous integrations offer an opportunity to expand their functionality, improve editing and analysis processes and make web applications more interactive. Let’s take as an example such a web application as an e-shop.

  • Integration with social networks and other apps has become an integral part of an online shop to conduct a customer dialogue: the simple “like” or recommendations on social media platforms can increase the conversion rate enormously. Customer reviews are considered the most important decision criterion when shopping online.
  • An online shop can be connected to a CRM system, where all customer data – inquiries, communication, and feedback – is stored and available to employees. The integration makes it possible to automatically collect, update and store user data of the web application in the CRM in order to examine customer behavior and buying habits, process their requests faster, and determine customer preferences in good time. This contributes enormously to falling churn rates and increasing sales.
  • In order to offer PayPal as a payment option, it is necessary to integrate this online payment system into the online shop.
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Authentication is used to identify and verify a user. In order to prove identity and gain access to the system, a user must enter the appropriate user name and password or other characteristics when it comes to multi-factor authentication. An authorization mechanism in web-based solutions is used to prevent unauthorized access and protect sensitive data.


The classic informative website does not require authentication. This is possible but not mandatory. For example, it is common for some news portals that only registered users have access to certain pages.

Web applications

When developing secure web applications, authentication is a must because users get access to additional options through registration and login: leave a comment or place an order. Your login and password should be strong and protected from being read out by third parties.

Web applications: what types are there?

As we mentioned above, web applications make it possible to achieve many purposes. Depending on the purposes involved, we divide web applications into five large groups.

Web portals

A portal represents an environment that provides extensive functions – depending on the target group – by integrating different applications, processes, and content. A distinction is made between B2C portals for end customers, B2B portals for business customers, partner portals, supplier portals, customer portals, learning portals, etc.

Web applications for companies

This web application group serves to make a company’s work process more efficient – depending on the department or project – and to optimize and coordinate collaboration. A big advantage is that a web application allows access from anywhere.

Web applications for automation

It is about the automation of internal and external processes and recurring tasks that are repeatedly solved manually in different departments.

Web applications in the e-commerce sector

An online shop for end customers is a leading representative in this group, but not the only one. This also includes all types of e-shops for B2B, B2C, B2A, and electronic marketplaces, as well as booking systems for the hotel industry, gastronomy, transport, etc.

Exploit the potential of web-based solutions

If you need a purely informational website, a small web agency may be the best choice for you. If you want to create interactive and secure web applications that can offer an extended range of functions through integrations, we recommend that you contact a company that provides a comprehensive range of services and can meet your numerous requirements and needs.

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