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Not every URL you visit can be classified as a website.  So your business needs to know exactly what this means for you and your customers.  Today you’ll learn some of the differences between a websites and a web application.

There’s no difference between a website and web application for users. They simply type your company’s URL into my browser and think nothing of it. You can call it whatever you want, the only thing that matters to the end user is that your “website” does what it’s supposed to do. End of story.

But from a more technical perspective, there are some distinct differences between websites and web applications. Keep in mind that even here, you’ll find some conflicting opinions amongst professionals. As a general rule, you can use the following guidelines:


Websites are typically informational in nature. Think about your favorite blog or news based site. Its primary purpose is to convey information to the end user, whether it in the form of news, like CNN, or recipes, like you’ll find on Martha Stewart.

As a general rule, there is little or no interaction on the part of the visitor, other than possibly submitting an email address to receive a monthly newsletter or performing a search. So the real question is, how does this apply to you?

Well, if you’re a local charity who wants to convey information only — a homepage, an about page, contact information, upcoming events, and maybe a description of how you’ve helped your cause — a website might be all that you need.

Web Applications

In contrast, web applications are usually responsible for some form of interaction with your visitors. Yes, they’ll still be supplying information, but your visitors may want to do something with that information. Or, through interaction, your visitors may request a different type of information or even manipulate data.

A specific example of a web application could be your local library website that allows you to search their catalog of books and make a reservation. Your online banking is a web application as well — it displays information and performs actions based on your input. Let’s refer back to our local charity as an example. Only this time, they require that visitors are able to register, place bids, and pay for items in a charitable online auction. Need an example of a useful web app that makes customers lives easier? Check out Adobe Color CC.

Does that all make sense?  Let us know if you have further questions we’d be happy to help you on getting clear about your company’s online needs.

Get the bonus content: Learn 4 Ways Your Business Can Benefit From Developing a Web Application


Cody Landefeld

co-founder at Mode Effect. ECommerce consultant. Coram deo.

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