At first glance, it may seem that there is not much difference between a web application and a website. The popular definitions are contested and often very similar to each other. But in fact, the distinction exists and is critical to grasp while deciding how your digital product should look like. If you’re not sure which one to make, you’ve come to the perfect place.

Here you will find an ultimate answer to:

  • how websites and web applications are different,
  • what are Progressive Web Applications,
  • when do you need a website or a web application,
  • which technology will be the best for your digital product.

Key differences between website and web app

Websites display content – right now you are on one! This content is mostly static meaning that users can only browse and scroll through the website so its main purpose is to provide information. You can’t create an account, do shopping, or interact in other ways.

Web applications are software applications running on a web server built for user engagement. Users can interact with the database and back-end server by using a user-friendly interface instead of complex data and APIs. Some of the samples could be online banking, webmail, or any interface to interact with the database. In short, web applications are great for custom software development.

Comparison: website vs web app

The most important things about the difference between web apps and websites you should know are gathered in this table below.

WebsiteWeb application
Built forInforming, usually business presentation websites.Interacting, helps users with certain tasks to do.
ComplexityDisplays static data on a specific page.Handles dynamic operations and data processing smoothly.
Programming languagesCreating the content with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.Developing functionalities additionally with the use of web application frameworks.
TimeStatic pages require less time to create and publish, generally time depends on the number of pages.The whole development time depends on functionalities and their complexity.
Development processOften simple to create, as well as easily updated and maintained.As it’s custom software development, the development needs a custom approach. You can read more about this in our Process Book.

Costs of website and web application development

It’s one of the most common questions. To answer this, we have prepared an ultimate Pricing guide with everything you need to know about costs to build your digital product.

The cost of building a website as well as a web app is determined by numerous factors. Aside from the product’s complexity, web design cost, and required functionality, the hourly rates of web developers and the expertise of such a development team are important things to take into account.

  • Website
    To develop a website, you need to know the purpose and business goal it has to achieve. It means that each business requires a personalized approach to attract customers. If you’re wondering how much money you should set aside to create your website, you should prepare between 2500 and 10 000 euros. However, in more complex and challenging projects, website costs might exceed 30 000 euros.
  • Web application
    Consider which functionalities are essential and which are good to have when you plan for web app development. This will make it much simpler to communicate with the software development team, who will estimate the cost of your project depending on a variety of criteria. You will be able to determine if your budget enables you to implement all of the features at once or if you wish to do so later. The typical development cost hovers around 50 000 Euros.

Progressive Web Application (PWA)

When it comes to web development, PWAs are mandatory to consider. It’s a term used lately around and sometimes called the future of web applications. Progressive Web Applications represent a new standard that improves your website’s speed and performance no matter what. 

If you’re unfamiliar with it, PWA is a sort of software application that may be used as a website or a web application. This technology allows you to develop fast app-like sites. In appearance, they resemble mobile apps, but they shouldn’t be confused with each other. PWAs run just like a website but with the experience of running like a native mobile or desktop app. The great thing about it is that as a whole, this makes it easier for users to engage with your content. Its purpose is to give the best possible web page experience across all operating systems and regardless of the internet connection quality. 

Since it works on any platform that uses a web browser, it doesn’t require separate distribution. Users will be able to add the web application to their home screen after developers publish it online and make sure it passes the optimal “PWA checklist”. A lot of leading businesses have decided to develop this solution such as Uber, Pinterest, or Spotify. For further information about this kind of application, check out an article about the best examples of progressive web apps.

When do you need a website?

A website may help your business in a variety of ways. It assists you in achieving company objectives as well as supports the branding of your company. You can promote your business online. Let’s take a look at some of its most popular examples:


Informing is one of the most popular purposes of a website. Businesses may use it to showcase their products and services to the target audience. It can also work as a presentation to stand out from other similar websites.


Websites can be also used to amuse their users. There are several ways to achieve this. A few examples of interesting entertainment websites are magazines, video streaming platforms, or online news.


Some websites exist exclusively to educate people. This includes courses websites, tutorials as well as blog sites. With this, you may give knowledge that can assist others in their business or even in their personal lives.

Types of websites

  • Landing page – single web pages,
  • WordPress – sites with the content management system,
  • Multisite – multiple WordPress websites,
  • Headless CMS – content management system only accessible from the backend.

When do you need a web application?

You can use the web app in countless ways. It’s best to use a web app if you wish to develop an advanced service or software with extensive functionalities that can be launched in a browser. This is also a great solution when you need an in-house product that will be available only for limited users (like HR services). Among the popular examples of web apps are:

While comparing to websites, each has its advantages and disadvantages. Remember that you should rely on your needs and project goals. If you require something that can handle everything from payments to users’ data, a web app is a must choice.


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The right technology for your digital product

Hope this detailed description answers what sets the site apart from the web application. Choosing the right technology will be crucial for you in the long run. Think again about what your needs are and what access to your digital product should look like. The URL can be accessed from the website or web application. For mobile app support, check out PWA and even cross-platform mobile app development.