Website vs. Web Application: What’s the Difference?

Adamo Digital Co., Ltd
  • Date Published
  • Categories Blog
  • Reading Time 4-Minute Read

When talking about applications, audiences generally think about mobile apps and forget about the web application. However, they are completely different.

In common, most of us think web application as a type of website, except online retailers and e-commerce agencies. However, they are completely different. This article will provide you some signs to distinguish between the two.

What Is a Website?

A website is a collection of worldwide accessible, interlinked web pages sharing the same domain. A website is hosted on a single or multiple web server. It can be built as a desktop or mobile version directly by the inhouse team or software outsourcing team. That’s the reason why web pages contain some relevant content dedicated to the same topic or the same industry.

You can access a website via a network such as the Internet or a private local area network via IP address.

What Is a Web Application?

The web application is a program or software running in a web browser. It has both the frontend and the backend that includes programming languages (CSS, HTML, JavaScript…) and programming stack (LAMP, MEAN…). The web application doesn’t have SDK like mobile apps.

While the website displays information, the web application can also provide some services for users. The web application can adapt to different screens and devices.

Characteristics: Website vs. Web Application

  • Display quality and relevant web content
  • User-friendly navigation and web design
  • It is easily found using search engines
  • Highly scalable and cloud-hosted
  • Cross-platform
  • It can be easily checked with automatic tests.

How to Distinguish Website and Web Application


A website is opened to all visitors while a web application is designated for interacting with end-users. Thus, a website has a larger scale of the audience than a web application.

User interaction

This is the main difference between them. For the website, the user can read web pages and handle the restricted data. Meanwhile, web application let users see visual and text content without affecting functions.

Web applications engage more interactions than the website only. If the website provides information for users passively, web application let users choose what to do next with this information. Users even request different types of information as they expect on web applications.


There is a limited integration for the website because the only user experience on the website is reporting. The web application requires more integration than the website. It needs data and other functions for advanced user experience. Developers can add out-of-the-shelf programs with customized components to save money.


A website opens for all users, so authentication is just optional. The register function is just for users who want to receive update information or access additional options that are not available for unregistered visitors.

Web application needs authentication because it has a broader range of options than a website. Also, it needs authentication for safety reasons, especially personalized web applications which gives the account owner a wider possibility of user options. Authentication protects users’ data and avoids spams.

Task and complexity

Compared to a website which displays data and information on web pages, a web application has a higher and more complex features.


You can access a website via your browser. A website is a completed product itself so it doesn’t need software to access. However, a website application itself is an unfinished product. It needs software to develop and access.


It’s easier to deploy a website than web applications. You don’t need a full compilation when something changes, updating the HTML code is enough.

A web application is more complicated. Developers have to re-compile and deploy the whole project if some changes happen.


  • Web crashes
  • Unexpected spam emails
  • False information when users don’t update regularly
  • Limited access in some region
  • Security problems
  • Difficulties in support various browser with equal precedence
  • Difficulties to explore app from app stores
  • Some devices can’t access some features

In conclusion, in terms of privacy status, the website is more public when the web application is more personal. In terms of popularity, both of them are all recognized by users, but the web application is recently a trend. In terms of technology, a web application has more advanced but complex components than a website. Currently, they still reach different customers’ demands. Thus, you should research your target audience and find out your business goals before choosing to develop a website or web application. Remember to choose your development team carefully because these two things require different skillsets.