In today’s digital age, the online presence of a business is as crucial as its physical one. The internet is a bustling marketplace, teeming with opportunities and challenges alike. Two key players in this are websites and web applications. While they might seem similar, they serve distinct purposes and offer unique advantages. Explore the world of websites and web applications, their characteristics, advantages, disadvantages, and how businesses can choose the right platform based on their needs.
The World of Websites
A website is like a digital brochure or a virtual storefront. It’s a collection of accessible web pages, all connected through a single domain name that’s hosted on a server. Most websites are informational and provide content for visitors to read and view, but with newer software being developed every day, new and unique web pages and journeys are being created all the time.
While websites each have their own unique charm, they also carry many benefits with them. They offer a simple and evergreen way for businesses to interact with their visitors, regardless of the time of day, location, or holiday. When professional websites are set up well, a company’s credibility and reputation for what they offer increases exponentially and can lead to more leads, conversions, and page visitors.
What’s in a website?
- Quality and relevant content
- User-friendly and responsive design
- Compatible with other devices (tablets, mobile, etc.)
- Fast loading speeds
- Easily searchable and locatable on Google, Bing, etc.
- Lead capture forms
- SSL Certificates
Although well-made websites can have the ability for interaction and dynamic content, coding, and potential technical issues can become more prevalent. This is where web applications can come into play.
Interact and Achieve: Web Applications
Web applications are similar to websites as they can be accessed through a browser, but the information you can glean and modify is much greater, and the data doesn’t have to be stored locally on your computer. One of the most well-known examples of this software is Google Docs. Here users are able to create documents, save them locally or online, share them with collaborators, print them, upload them to web pages, the list goes on.
This modality is helpful to have information saved for you without having to worry about where to find it, but it can also help keep your items and data more secure. They can also help to complete a variety of tasks, and with easy access to all your files, the organization of your work can become streamlined and easy to manage. Most modern browsers run them and typically have pre-made mobile applications or browser compatibility.
Like websites, web applications can have shortcomings, so it’s vital to ensure they are built properly due to their complexity. Creating them requires experienced developers, so its essential that the whole team is aware of what comprises suitable web applications.
What’s in a web application?
- Quick response time in the UI
- Adaptable to a large range of screen sizes and pixel densities
- 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
The Crossroads: Website vs. Web Applications
Choosing between websites and web applications is like buying a car; you want it to get you where you need to go and meet your needs, but with so many options to choose from, it can become overwhelming.
Cost is typically the first defining factor between the two, as websites will generally cost less than web applications because they are less complex and require less maintenance. If your company just needs a simple storefront and place to display store information, a website is a great way to communicate to customers and help you get found online.
Focusing on business objectives is a key step in determining what option is best for your company. If you are establishing a brand presence and are providing the same information to your visitors, websites could be a better fit. However, if you are looking for a place for users to purchase, enter in information, ask questions, etc., web applications might be a better option for your user to interact with. Websites can offer interactivity features here and there to provide some responsiveness to visitors. At the end of the day websites focus on retention while web applications focus on interactivity.
Neither websites nor web applications are inherently superior. The choice between the two depends on your business’s specific needs, objectives, and resources. The best choice for your business may be a website with integrated web apps to give you a site that functions for you, your employees, and your users.
By understanding the differences, advantages, and challenges of each, you can make an informed decision that best suits your digital strategy. So, whether you choose a website, a web application, or both, remember that the goal is to create a meaningful and engaging online presence for your business. After all, in the digital world, the customer’s journey is as important as the destination.