Differences between website and web application

For an average user, the word “website” became so general that everything that has a URL is identified as a website. However, it is far from reality. There are several types of software that can be opened via a browser. In this article we will discuss the differences between the two most common varieties.

If you were to look online for the definition for the “website” and “web application” you would find very similar answers. Both have a URL and both need to be opened in a browser. Users won’t even think about the differences as long as they get what they want. Dissimilarities start when you compare website and web application from the technical point of view. For the developers and their clients, it is important to understand what exact functionalities the project should have so it will be easier to choose what software to create.


The main distinction between web application and website is interactivity. A website is a combination of webpages that contain static content. Users can view the visuals and read the text without much interactions with them. A typical website is a blog, landing page or a site that presents a company and its products or services. The owner of the website can update its contents and the users will see it all without any personalization or preferences.

On the other hand, the main idea of the web application is to engage users in some ways. The web app responses based on the users’ actions – pressing the button, filling the form, etc. The purpose of the web application is to deliver a personalized experience and fulfill the users’ needs. The most common examples of the web app are web portals and online stores. Web portals allow users to create their own content, share and engage with others’. Most web applications have the feed which content is generated based on the users' activity and preferences.


An authentication is an act of identifying the user that requires him to enter login and password provided during the registration. Verification helps to secure the information stored in the users’ accounts. For web application where users can create content, provide sensitive information and send private messages it is obligatory to have some authentication in place. Without security measures, it would be very easy for users to gain access to personal information and use it to their advantage or spam others.

There is no need for regular websites to set verification process if they do not expect their users to interact with the content in any way. In instances when users can leave comments on blog posts or the registration will give them more options (like bookmarking articles) the authentication can help to identify the person to avoid spammers.

While it is optional for websites to have authentication process, web applications absolutely must verify their users before logging them in.


Both websites and web applications are integrated with some systems for easier management. In the case of the website, simple CMS (Content Management System) allows for the editing and updating the content on the pages. Because websites do not need many functionalities, the integrations with external tools and systems would be pointless.

Web applications, contrarily, store lots of data and handle several processes at once there is why they usually are integrated with the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. It helps to manage web application and provides access to all the customer data making it much easier to deal with operations done by users or web app itself.

Although websites and web applications have a lot of distinct differences often you can come across a website with some features of a web application and vice versa. Many modern websites are not static as the definition imply. They usually have some functionalities that require the integration with the CRM system or even a separate web application. However, if the website allows its users to interact with it in some way but still its core is to present static content, then it shouldn’t be considered to be an application.

When developing a software pay the most attention to its main purpose. If you want it mostly to showcase some content – the website will be the better option. If the interactions with users are its central idea – go for the web application. Before the development carefully think about your business plans and the intent of the software to find what will suit your goals best.

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