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The Difference Between a Website and Web Application

The digital world is constantly reinventing itself. Not from the ground up, but every aspect of what we see as our digital environment is continuously being redesigned, improved, innovated, and then what works well is widely adopted by others who like the improvements and want to benefit from them. Because this landscape is made up of thousands of individual companies and developers, there's no telling what will be reinvented next, what the next new feature, option, or online service will become the next big improvement that everyone will want. This can happen in niche industry software that finds a better way to handle business data, a feature on a social media platform that transforms the way we interact with each other, or a custom-made client web portal that soon everyone will be emulating.

In this ever-changing environment, we need terms and phrases that differentiate between the 'old way' and the 'new way' for things that have been innovated though both fulfill the same purpose in many cases. Never has this been truer than when talking about modern business websites. You may have noticed recently that the term 'web application' has begun to take the place of 'website' in web development circles. A web application isn't just a buzzword that sounds trendy and technical, it is one of the greatest improvements to the modern business website today. If you're looking to keep your business on the cutting-edge of digital technology and customer engagement, it's important to know why developers need to differentiate between an interactive web application and an old-school website.

The Traditional Business Website

Some businesses have had websites since the 90s. In fact, there are quite a few still-existing companies that had websites back before the internet unified from the handful of separate paid network services back then. However, one can hardly call the sites they built out of pure HTML and CSS comparable to the multi-platform interactive sites we're used to today.

Traditional business websites are static pages of text and information. The home page usually lists the company name, location, hours, and a few things about the business. There may be a few pictures and links to other pages on the site but there's not a lot for visitors to actually do. In fact, perhaps the most defining feature of a classic website is the web pages themselves, one at a time, separate, and fairly finite. There might be some things for users to click on and there may even be a basic eCommerce interface, but each interaction is limited to what a mostly static page can provide.

The Introduction of Web Applications

In the last decade, the digital world has seen one major shift in how websites are developed. As web technology, developers, and commerce advanced, it became both necessary and possible to change the way we build websites. Businesses realized they could offer services and experiences online as well as static information about store hours. All of this led to what we know of as the modern web application.

One of the steps along this line was the web portal, a way for customers to interact with their accounts, make changes, schedule appointments, and essentially serve themselves through a well-designed web interface. With an overwhelmingly positive response from customers, web applications became the new way of doing things. A web application is, essentially, a more interactive and engaging way to build a website like a software tool instead of with nothing but static pages. With a web application, you can allow your customers to interactively do anything from managing their personal finances to design 3D art depending on your business, web developer, and what you want to offer.

Building a Custom Web Application

Here in the age of templating and package-websites, there are a few web application type templates out there to choose from mostly having to do with eCommerce. But why choose a cookie-cutter web application when the entire point is being able to offer your customers a unique and engaging experience? Decide what powers you want to put into the customer's hands and then design a web application that grants these powers. Whether you want to help your customers imagine their next home improvement project, revolutionize smooth and enjoyable eCommerce, or simply want to spruce up your account management interface, a custom web application is the wave of and way to the future.

Who knows, maybe your web application will contain the next big hit innovation for an entire industry. For more information about custom web applications, the difference between websites and web applications, or a few ideas on building the perfect web application for your business, contact us today!