What is the difference between a web app and a website?

Web Apps and Websites and Apps, oh my!

A simple breakdown of the differences between a website and a web app.

At Fluid, we’re always looking for ways to provide our clients with the latest technologies and services to suit their needs. So we’ve started to refine our website build process and have also begun offering web apps and mobile apps. This has led to a big question amongst fellow Fluid-ites: What is a web app?

Truth is, most of us use web apps every day and may not even realize it. A web app comes in many shapes and sizes, like a social media, online banking, or e-commerce platform. All of these fall into the category of a web app. Put simply: A web app is where you go to do stuff and a website is where you go to see stuff. Let’s dive a little deeper, shall we?

A website is…

A website is usually a place where your customers go to learn more information about your company or products. You may have an “About Us” page or a “Contact” form. You may also list pricing tiers for your products or have a simple blog.

A website can even be a single landing page. For example, picture you have an iPhone app that you want to market. You would send users to your website where they can see screenshots and view lists of features that your app provides. At the bottom of the page, you would ultimately send users to the App Store to download and use your app. This is a perfect example of a website.

At the end of the day, your website doesn’t actually do anything, aside from collecting leads or providing a brochure-like experience for the user.

Well, then what’s a web app?

A web app is where your customers or users go to do something. If you’re in the Saas business, your users would log into their account to use your service. If you sell products online, your web app would include a shopping cart and checkout system, where users can purchase and track their orders. At Fluid, we leverage web apps for tons of different things. We use Slack for team communication, Trello for workflow and organization, and Harvest for time tracking and estimation. Web apps are a huge part of the internet nowadays.

As I previously mentioned, a major flavor of web apps comes in the form of social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, et al. These are all web apps where you go to do something. You can “like” your friend’s video of her cat, “pin” your favorite Star Wars t-shirt, or even “tweet” the President of the United States (for better or worse). Rather than just spectating on a website, you’re actually participating and interacting with the web app.

Clear as mud? Perfect!

I hope this helps you see the difference in the two kinds of web platforms. Both have their unique uses and strengths and both should provide your users with an engaging experience. Fluid is more than capable of handling either one, so if you’re looking to bring your next big idea to life, let us know!