Web Application Development vs Website Development – How They Differ

When businesses want to create a modern day digital presence, there’s an issue that arises – ‘Do we need a website or a web application?’

Many are under the impression that anything entered in the address bar of the browser will direct them to the desired website. The thing is, the URLs you visit may not be a website. According to the end user, both the terms seem similar because the definitions are controversial and overlapping.

In order to help you differentiate between websites and web applications, we’re going to discuss some of the main things that set them apart.

A website and a web application may seem similar, but they have distinct differences in terms of purpose, functionality, and development.

Purpose: A website is used to display information and content to the user, whereas a web application is designed to interact with the user and perform specific tasks, such as online shopping or banking.

Functionality: Websites typically have limited interactivity and functionality, while web applications have dynamic, interactive features and provide a more immersive experience.

Development: Websites can be created with simple HTML and CSS, while web applications require more advanced programming skills and technologies, such as JavaScript, React, or Angular.

Server: Best Dedicated Servers are important for both web application development and website development, their significance and usage vary based on the specific needs, scalability requirements, and budget constraints of each project. Developers must carefully assess these factors to determine the most suitable hosting solution for their applications or websites.

What is a Website?

A website is a set of universally accessible interlinked web pages in a single domain name. Typically, they are informational in nature. For example, think about your favorite blog or news website. They convey information to the end user, like CNN or a recipe website like Martha Stewart.

Other than submitting a question via the contact form or receiving a monthly newsletter or performing a search, there is minimal interaction on the part of the visitor.

Here is an example of a website.

Web Application Development vs Website Development – How They Differ (martha stewart) - ColorWhistle

What Are the Benefits Of a Website?

Some major reasons are:

  • Effectively showcase your products or services
  • Create your social proof
  • Branding your products or services
  • Achieve business goals
  • Improve customer support
  • Platform to showcase your work
  • Great marketing channel

How to Decide Whether Your Business Needs a Website?

If you are a small business and local to your customers, you would just need a boutique website design or custom website development talking about your brand briefly, location pointer with a map and business capabilities.
If you are running a popular small business, you would need to have a bespoke website to showcase your products/services to your customers.

If you run a family business, a new startup or a business with less personnel, you would just need to think of your brand, a website for your marketing and lead generation needs. A simple custom WordPress website development can satisfy most of the business needs.

If you are an established business group in the market and growing, you can also start digital marketing with website design.

There are many other scenarios you might need to have a good website for your business. Feel free to make a quick consultation with ColorWhistle for all kinds of website services.

What are the Characteristics of a Good Website?

Some of the main characteristics of a good website are:

  • Quality and relevant content
  • User-friendly and responsive web design
  • Clear navigation
  • Compatible with various devices like smartphones, tablets, etc
  • Good loading speed
  • Easily searchable by search engines like Google, Bing, etc
  • Lead capture forms
  • SSL certificate

What is a Web Application Development?

A web application is an interactive page. It allows users to add inputs and get data in many ways via interactions. They primarily came into existence with the advent of Software as a Service (SaaS) movement.

Web applications are similar to any other apps, but the main advantage of a web application is that it’s stored on the internet and can be accessed on a browser. That is why they have a very close relationship with the server as it sends lots of requests to it.

One of the top examples of web application development is Google Docs. It allows you to create documents, save them on your computer or Google drive account, share them with colleagues, print them and downloads them in various formats like PDF, web page, EPUB Publication, etc.

Web Application Development vs Website Development – How They Differ (Google Drive ) - ColorWhistle

What are the Benefits of a Web Application Development?

Web applications are becoming quite popular because of these reasons.

  • Do not need to be installed as they run on web browsers
  • Supported by all modern browsers
  • New updates can be released without sending a reminder to users to update the application
  • Easy to maintain as they use the same code in the entire application
  • No compatibility issues
  • Secure and easy to backup
  • More affordable than mobile application development

What are the Characteristics of a Good Web Application Development?

Some of the main characteristics of a web application are:

  • Quick response time in the UI
  • Adaptable to a large range of screen sizes and pixel densities
  • Cloud-hosted
  • API factored
  • Cross-platform compatibility i.e. must be usable on Linux, macOS, and Windows
  • Must support A/B testing and analytics
  • Follow security best practices
  • Easily deployable
  • Rich tool support for logic flows, process flows, debug logs, etc

How to Decide if Your Business Needs a Web Application Development?

If you are a local business with a doorstep service business or a business expecting continuous customer interactions at regular intervals, you can automate this process with an innovative custom web application development.

If you are part of manufacturing, textile, agriculture or an industry that has many external divisions, to reach the end customer, you may need many software applications to run your business efficiently. Keeping all of them together on one web application development will be a huge benefit to your business process. There are many good ERP systems, cloud-based BPM applications, CRM software out there in the market to solve the business needs. However, there are always custom needs in organizations where development help is required for different web application systems.

For example, If you are running a modern business like travel, you would definitely need a web application development for your next travel portal with various travel website features, a web application development for online education with LMS features, a real estate web application development with features for real estate agents and clients, a health care web application for business to patient care. Likewise, the need for web application development requirements is just endless.

If your business needs interaction with your customers anytime they want, then you might need a web application with chat, social media, API integrations and custom API development to provide web services on time.

RankingTechnologyDomainsMarket Share
1Apache HTTP Server6,730,03454.35%
3Microsoft IIS1,473,51511.90%
5LiteSpeed Web Server365,2382.95%
6Phusion Passenger123,9311.00%
8Apache Coyote HTTP/1.1 Connector27,7290.22%
9Apache Servers25,3540.20%

What are the Modern Technologies that Help to Build Websites and Web Applications?

Website design and development technologies are evolving so fast in pace with modern internet era systems. Knowing the new & modern web technologies in the market will allow business to build websites that will meet customer expectations and be in trend.

Best, top & popular open-source website development technologies for custom development are:

New & modern website development / web application development frameworks for custom development are:

Ultra-fast and very new static site generator frameworks for custom web app development are:

How to Maximize Digital Marketing Efforts for Small Business Websites?

Once you have decided that your small business requires a website, start thinking of how to make the best use of digital marketing channels. Website design with digital marketing provides faster reach to your audience. Do immediately consider the following digital marketing efforts to maximize your business visibility.

  • Local SEO with Google My Business
  • Social Media Marketing, mainly across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin
  • Lead Generation Ad campaigns

How to Maximize Digital Marketing Efforts for Web Applications?

If you have a SaaS product or a web application that needs sustainable growth, you should leverage the best digital marketing channels.

Finding the right audience groups, from creating awareness to educating the customer personas via your content marketing efforts gives the best digital marketing results.

Below are some generic digital marketing channel recommendations for web applications, but when we do a digital marketing consulting, we will come up with tailor-made digital marketing strategies like,

  • Technical blogging
  • Infographics and statistics mapping
  • Guest posts on technical blogs
  • Engage with Q & A forums
  • Linkedin and Quora Ad campaigns
  • SEO & Social Media maintenance

How to Set SEO Goals for Websites?

The purpose of your business website is to get new customers and more customer attention to your brand. SEO can play a huge role in your business if you are taking SEO services seriously.

There are many ways you can set SEO goals on your website. Getting help from professional SEO service providers will help you to achieve as many as the goals of your business.

These are some of the SEO goals that can be set on Google Analytics to track the SEO goals performance

  • Lead Generation Form Entries
  • CTA Clicks
  • Events Tracking

These are some of the SEO goals that can be set on the website for the growth of your business

  • User visits – daily/weekly /monthly
  • Qualified Lead Generation – Closely matching with your content marketing strategy
  • Number of Lead Conversions – Closely matching with your sales strategy

These are some of the SEO goals can be set on the website to track SEO services performance,

  • Number of goal conversions
  • Volume of traffic based on per user, session, region and language
  • Landing page traffic
  • Exit page traffic
  • Bounce rate improvements
  • New session rate improvements

How to Set SEO Goals For Web Application Development?

SEO goals for web application won’t have much difference with SEO goals for websites. But, the main focus should be given to all types of goal/event conversions on web applications.

That’s why most SEO professional agencies advise you to go with SEM to get faster benefits with the web application market.

To set SEM / SEO goals for a web application, one can consider the following options:

  • Great landing page design with CRM + marketing automation integration
  • Google Ad/Linkedin/Quora /Instagram campaigning
  • Remarketing campaigns
  • Lead nurturing campaigns

To get more ideas, do read these good SEO case studies that actually worked for businesses.

How to Select a Website Developer for Your Business?

Based on your business needs you may need to hire a website developer or hire a web development agency.

Going to a freelancer developer for your website related works leads to many unknowing issues if you are very new to the online world. If you are looking for an affordable option, find an outsourcing digital agency partner who provides all kinds of services for your website needs.

How to Select a Web Application Developer for Your Business?

Once you have decided to build a web application for your online business, the next big thing is to find an affordable web application developer or web application development company to work with.

Following are some of the process elements involved in different size of web application development:

  • Low-fidelity wireframe development
  • High-fidelity wireframe development
  • Application UI screens design
  • Application interactive prototype build
  • Scalable code development
  • Custom API development and API integrations

Website vs. Web Application

Here is the primary difference between websites and web applications.

Key differencesWebsiteWeb application
InteractionMainly display information to visitorsInteract with users and respond to their requests
Authentication (user login and password)Not obligatoryMostly requires authentication
Page typeStatic. Users see the same informationDynamic. Every user sees different information
CompilationDoes not need to be precompiledMust be precompiled before deployment
DeploymentSmall changes can be updated in HTML codeTo make small changes, the entire project must be re-compiled and deployed
Programming languagesDeveloped using HTML, CSS and a little JavaScriptDeveloped using HTML, CSS and a little JavaScript. Uses programming languages like – PHP, Ruby, or Python apart from using frameworks like – Rails, Django, and CakePHP

Should You be Building Web Apps or Websites?

When it comes to websites and web applications, there is quite a bit of clash. A website is informational based, whereas a web application requires inputs from the end user.

For example, a website with a shopping area for few products can be seen as a standard informational website. However, the shopping area can be referenced as a web application because it deals with the information provided by customers, visitors or members. Some may even argue that if the website is built on a Content Management System like WordPress, then the system would be a web application because it has a user interaction area even if it’s just for the administrator of the website.

As technologies are evolving, the collision between website and web application are becoming apparent. It is becoming rare to see websites that are only a collection of web pages without any user interaction.

Even though your business might need a website in the initial stages, that doesn’t mean that a website is capable of fulfilling all your needs in the future. Many organizations are not looking for a full-blown web application like Facebook. Instead, they are looking for a hybrid of the two. This will result in more investment and development time.

Make sure to understand your goals and the difference between websites and web applications. This will make the process smooth for everyone involved in the web development process.

Looking for Web Development Services?

Seize and experience the transformative impact of Web Development Services & Solutions with ColorWhistle.

How Can ColorWhistle Assist With your Website Development and Web Application Development Needs?

This blog has highlighted the basic differences between both the entities. The choice between websites and web applications can have a significant influence on your business and its future.

If your website is looking for a transition from one phase to the next, it will be easy and cost effective if you hire the right team from day one. So, it is important to consult with our web application development company to get a more accurate picture.

Our team provides services such as:

  • Creating UI/UX designs based on current trends
  • Website development
  • Web application development
  • Mobile apps for iOS and Android
  • Creating online shops on CMS (Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, PrestaShop)
User Experience Is The Key - ColorWhistle
About the Author - Anjana

Anjana is a full-time Copywriter at ColorWhistle managing content-related projects. She writes about website technologies, digital marketing, and industries such as travel. Plus, she has an unhealthy addiction towards online marketing, watching crime shows, and chocolates.


  1. This blog post beautifully explains the key differences between web application development and website development. As a developer, this clarity is vital for choosing the right path for my projects. Thank you for breaking it down so effectively!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ready to get started?

Let’s craft your next digital story

Our Expertise Certifications - ColorWhistle
Go to top
Close Popup

Let's Talk

    Sure thing, leave us your details and one of our representatives will be happy to call you back!

    Eg: John Doe

    Eg: United States

    More the details, speeder the process :)