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Web Apps: Definition, Examples & Differences from Websites

Last updated: Sep 25, 2023

Web Apps: Definition, Examples & Differences from Websites
Illustration of A Web Application

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A web app is an essential component in providing services, interacting with users, and enhancing the online experience to make it more dynamic and interactive.

In contrast to websites that primarily offer one-way information to users, web apps aim to fulfill aspects of interactivity, responsiveness, and a better user experience (UX).

Currently, the type of website known as a web app has evolved into an ecosystem that enables users to perform more complex actions.

From online shopping to playing games and interacting with social media, all can be accomplished through developing web apps.

Furthermore, web apps play a role in merging websites and applications into a single platform, making them easily accessible to users across various devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets.

In the following guide, you can discover a complete guide about web apps, including their definition, benefits, examples, and differences from regular websites.


What is A Web App?

Illustration of Web App Interface on a Mobile Device
Figure 1: Illustration of Web App Interface on a Mobile Device

A web app, also commonly referred to as a web application, is a type of application designed to be accessed and used through a web browser.

Unlike desktop applications that require downloading and local installation on a device, web apps run on servers and can be accessed via the internet using various devices, including computers, tablets, and smartphones.

These applications typically use programming languages like HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and JavaScript to control their appearance, interactions, and functionality.

As a result, users can access web apps simply by opening a web browser and entering the appropriate URL.


Benefits of Web Apps

The presence of web applications offers several benefits that make them a popular choice for DevOps Engineers and users alike. Some of the key advantages of using web applications include:

1. Efficient Storage

Web applications do not require local installation on the user's device. This means that all data and functionality reside in one place, namely the server.

Consequently, there is no significant use of storage space on the device. This is particularly advantageous for users whose devices have limited storage capacity.

2. Reduction in Compatibility Issues

During development, developers need to ensure that web applications can be accessed through various web browsers.

As a result, web applications can run on various platforms and devices. This reduces the compatibility issues often encountered with desktop applications.

3. Cost-Effectiveness

Overall, building and managing web applications is more cost-effective than developing desktop applications.

This is mainly because developers only need to focus on developing one version of the application that can be accessed by various devices and platforms.

4. Automatic Updates

Updates to web applications are centrally performed on the server. As a result, users do not need to download or manually install updates.

This, of course, enhances efficiency and helps address security issues by providing new features to users automatically.


Web App Example

Illustration of  YouTube as an Example of a Web App
Figure 2: YouTube as an Example of a Web App

Now that you are aware of the various benefits, do you know what some commonly used web applications are? 

In order to explore various examples of well-known web applications, consider the following overview:

1. E-commerce website

Platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Shopify are examples of e-commerce web apps. Users can use these applications to browse, select, compare, and purchase products or services online.

Additionally, users can create accounts, add items to their shopping carts, and easily process payments through the website.

2. Gmail

Gmail is an email service designed to facilitate communication among users. You can access this web app example from various devices through a web browser.

Gmail is often preferred by users because it offers several advantages, such as a user-friendly interface, inbox organization, spam filtering, and integration with other Google services.

3. Google Suite

Google Suite, commonly known as Google Workspace, is a collection of cloud-based web app example that includes Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and many more.

Through Google's services, you can create, share, and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other files in real time.

4. YouTube

Another popular example of a web app is YouTube, a platform for sharing videos. Within this platform, users can upload, watch, interact with comments, and subscribe to specific channels.

Additionally, YouTube also provides various features, such as autoplay and recommendations based on user preferences.


Differences Between Web Apps and Websites

Web applications and websites differ in several aspects, including hosting, access, form, design, primary tasks, complexity, interaction, development components, system integration, and authentication. Here is a more detailed discussion of those differences:

1. Hosting

Web applications often require cloud hosting due to their larger data needs, while website hosting is adjusted according to specific requirements.

2. Access

Web applications typically have login pages to restrict access to registered users, whereas websites can be accessed by anyone without requiring a login process. 

3. Form

Web applications often come with more interactive and dynamic user interfaces (UI) that rely on numerous elements. On the other hand, websites focus on information presentation, making them tend to be more static and informative.

4. Design

Web app design is usually more complex than website design, as it aims to provide an optimal user experience. On the other hand, website design tends to be simpler and easier to read.

5. Primary Tasks

Web applications primarily handle data and information processing, such as task management, data analysis, or financial transactions. In this case, websites aim to provide information, share content, and display products or services.

6. Complexity

Web app designs are typically more complex in terms of functionality and usage, while websites tend to be simpler in terms of functionality and interaction.

7. Interaction

Web applications involve two-way communication, leading to more intense interactions like filling out forms, creating accounts, or conducting transactions. 

In contrast, websites tend to have one-way communication, with users focusing on information retrieval without requiring complex interactions.

8. Development Components

Web applications usually involve front-end development (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) and back-end development (PHP, Ruby, and Python), while websites primarily focus on front-end development and content presentation.

9. System Integration

System and software integration are essential for web applications due to their complex features and the large amount of data they need to process. 

Meanwhile, website system integration is optional, as their primary task is to present and provide a list of information.

10. Authentication

Web applications require stronger security measures, including more complex authentication systems and cyber security, whereas websites do not have as strong security layers as web applications.

11. SEO Considerations

SEO-friendly websites can easily appear in Google search results. In contrast, web apps often require users to sign in, and their data is not indexed or displayed in Google search results. 

This means that web app content remains private and is not openly exposed in search engines to protect user data privacy.

That concludes our explanation of web apps, covering their definition, benefits, examples, and differences from websites.

Just like websites, web applications can also be optimized using structured and well-planned SEO strategies to achieve top rankings on organic search engine result pages (SERPs).

However, it's essential to note that effective search engine optimization requires ongoing monitoring and adjustments to achieve the best results.

If you find it challenging to develop the right SEO strategy for your website niche, now might be the time to consider using our SEO Services by cmlabs to propel your business toward greater success and prosperity.

Contact our marketing team to receive personalized offers tailored to your business needs now!

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