Website and Web App Differences

Goals

To gather information on the characteristic differences between a website and an app, including design principles and feature sets. The information will be used to help think through how apps behave differently than websites in web browsers.

Early Findings

Websites

Purpose
  • A website's main purpose is to facilitate navigation for users and "extract relevant information that meets their needs."
Benefits
  • According to Imaginovation, an enterprise-level website builder company, websites' benefits include easy access, easy updating, time and cost saving, easy advertising, and customer satisfaction.
Characteristics/Features
  • The main elements of a website include "Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScript."
  • Other features include quality and relevant web content, user-friendly navigation, and they can be easily searched through search engines.
  • A website provides images and text content that "the user can view and read, but not affect its functioning."
  • Authentication is not necessary. Sometimes, users may register to get additional options, such as newsletters or exclusive content.
  • Websites display "collected data and information on a specific page."
  • The website is a complete product, which users access with the help of a browser.
  • Websites do not need to be precompiled before deployment. If small changes are needed, a full re-compilation and deployment are not needed, only an update of the HTML code.

Web Apps

Purpose
Benefits
  • According to Imaginovation, web apps' benefits include personalized experience, expandability, device capabilities leverage, and customer satisfaction.
Characteristics/Features
  • The main elements of a web app include "HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; additionally uses programming languages such as Ruby, PHP, and frameworks such as Ruby on Rails, Scriptcase, Django, and database."
  • Web apps are "cloud-hosted and highly scalable , mostly cross-platform , modular and loosely coupled , and it is easily tested with automated tests."
  • In a web application, the user not only reads the content but also manipulates data.
  • Web apps require authentication due to their broader scope of options available for users.
  • Their functions are more complex compared to a website.
  • The web app is part of a website. It is not a complete website by itself.
  • Web apps need to be precompiled before deployment. If changes are needed, the entire project has to be re-compiled and then deployed.

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