Without even knowing it, most of us are using web applications on a daily basis. In fact, Gmail and Yahoo email, Twitter, Facebook, and eBay are used by most of us daily—and they are web applications. We generally confuse these web applications tools for websites. So, what is a web application and how is it different from a website? What are some different types of web applications? We will help you decipher which is best for the business functions you want to achieve- a website or a web application.
Website vs. Web Application
The best way to elucidate the difference between websites and web applications is to think in terms of purpose. Do you want to provide information or do you want to get it?
Websites are simple, static, single page sites or marketing websites for distributing information. Websites generally feature and promote products, services, and organizations through articles, images, video, and files. A site informs the world about who you are and what you offer. For instance, you can check your local Italian restaurant website as a customer to check out the ‘Day’s Special,’ or hours of operation without giving away any information about yourself.
Web applications on the other hand are less focused on marketing and more on functionality to fulfill specific business purpose (submitting, storing, searching, and retrieving data). Web applications are software that runs on the web to provide some kind of service or to improve efficiency. Web applications generally always use databases, and are therefore called dynamic. It requires user interaction, as in the user has to provide information in order for the application to work. The big advantage of a web application is that it does not need the developer to build a client for a specific type of computer or a specific operating system because it runs in a web browser. Users can even be using Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox, though some web applications may require a specific Web browser.
Think of the website of your bank, which promotes the brand and provides customers vital information about their services, and security features. Any member of the public can view the bank’s website but for account holders, the bank also offers web application tools focused on providing specific functionalities. For instance, to help check the balance on their account, submit an online loan application form, or pay bills online.
Types of Web Applications
There are three different types of web-based applications depending on the roles performed and logic placed and distributed by the server and the client browser.
Server-side HTML Web Application- In this type of web development architecture, the server generates HTML content and sends it to the client as a full-fledged HTML-page.
JS Generation Widgets (AJAX)- The page displayed in the browser shows widgets, where data is uploaded through AJAX query from the server into the content of the page. Any updates from the server show up only for the part of the page requested by the client.
It’s also possible to implement hybrid architecture to meet specific business requirements. The architecture of this collection of logically related interactive functions can consist of a number of components, including-
- Business application functionality
- Browsers such as Internet Explorer
- E-Mail functionality
- Forums or bulletin boards
- Custom-built Advertising
Web Applications Are the Future
Web apps can be customized and tailored for business purposes, like accounting software, reminder systems, order forms, and sales tracking for time saving efficiencies. Web applications can also be designed to strengthen both internal and external communication and improve data delivery and distribution. Advanced web applications are now available as online portals and eCommerce, which delivers content and the functionality of searching, adding to cart, and online financial transaction.
Most business owners understand the value of websites in their marketing plan but not many know the benefits of web applications and how they can offer stronger products and services, improve SEO, reduce cost significantly and help expand their business. Ultimately, whether you choose a website or a web application depends on your assessment of what you want to achieve.