Websites vs Web Applications
These days, it’s practically unheard of for a business to not have an online presence. Just about every company, regardless of what they sell, has a website. In a lot of cases, they have a web application as well.
Are you confused about how websites and web apps differ from each other? Are you having a hard time deciding which option to focus on for your business?
This guide outlines the pros and cons, as well as the similarities and differences between static websites and web applications. You’ll also learn about the process and cost of developing each one.
What Is a Static Website?
A static website is composed of a collection of HTML files that contain text, images, and videos.
Each file represents a different page on your business’s website. For example, when someone visits the homepage of your site, they are viewing the homepage file. When they visit the About Us page, they’re visiting the About Us file.
Compared to other types of websites, as well as web apps, static websites are pretty simple. In the early days of the internet, all websites were built using this framework. In 2022, though, there are more complex and dynamic options available, such as web apps.
What Is a Web Application?
A web application is a type of computer program. It uses various web browsers and web technology to perform tasks online.
Web apps require a web server to manage the client’s requests, as well as an application server to perform specific tasks. Sometimes, they require a database to store information as well.
The standard web application flow goes as follows:
- A user triggers a request to the web server
- The webserver forwards this request to the web application server
- The web application server performs the requested task and generates results
- The web application server sends the results to the web server
- The web server responds to the client with the requested information, which then appears on the user’s computer or smartphone display
It’s important to note that a web app is developed as part of a larger website. It’s not a complete website in and of itself. An example of a web app might be a word processor, such as Google Docs, or an email program like Gmail.
Static Website Pros and Cons
Static websites provide a variety of benefits for business owners. There are also some important drawbacks to keep in mind, though, before you move forward with the website development process.
The following are some of the top reasons why you might invest in a static website for your business:
Often, the development process for a static website is faster than the development process for a dynamic website or web app. If you’re looking to create an online presence as quickly as possible, starting with a simple, static website will likely be your best bet.
Most of the time, it is less expensive to create a static website than it is to create a dynamic website or web app. Because the process is simpler and quicker, developers don’t need to dedicate as much manpower to get your website built and launched.
Index More Easily
If your top priority is building your online presence and boosting your search engine ranking, a static website is a good place to start. Search engines can more easily index static websites because of their simple construction — after all, they’re just a collection of coded HTML files.
Transfer Files Quickly
Static websites don’t have complicated structures. As a result, they can easily and quickly be transferred from the server to the client. This allows for faster information delivery and helps people get what they need right away.
There are some downsides to a static website, too, including these:
Because static websites feature simple designs, they are also fairly limited in their functionality. They are good for delivering information. However, they’re not capable of performing advanced functions the way dynamic websites and web apps are.
For a restaurant that just wants to provide basic information about its operating hours and history, this might be just fine. For an eCommerce business, though, this is likely not sufficient.
Difficulty Updating Information
Many people find that it’s difficult and time-consuming to change or update the content on a static website. For example, if you want to update the operating hours of your business or the name of a specific product, all of the HTML files will have to be changed individually to maintain consistency across the entire website.
Potential Customer Frustrations
Customers and clients may become frustrated with your website’s lack of functionality. They may get annoyed, too, if the information is inconsistent across various web pages.
Over time, these frustrations may cause a customer or client to abandon your business altogether and choose to work with a competitor instead.
Difficulty Keeping Up with Competitors
Speaking of competitors, if all you have is a static website, you may have a hard time keeping up with your competitors who are investing in more complex online presences — such as web apps.
You can only offer your customers or clients so much with a static website. Eventually, it might not be enough to remain competitive.
Web Application Pros and Cons
As is the case with static websites, web applications also come with pros and cons.
The following are some of the top benefits your business will enjoy if you invest in a web application:
Compared to other types of apps, such as mobile apps, web apps don’t require updates as frequently.
Because they’re linked directly to websites, they get updated whenever the website gets updated, and everyone who has access to the app gets the same version. This helps to prevent confusion and minimizes user frustrations.
Many developers find that it’s easier to customize web apps and change their interface. This, in turn, allows you to carrow out specific business operations more precisely and with less effort.
In general, web apps are less likely to be hacked compared to websites. This increases your business’s safety, as well as the safety of your customers’ data.
No Download Requirements
Web apps don’t need to be downloaded before your customers or clients can use them. As long as they have access to a web browser, they can start interacting with your web app right away.
This saves them from having to go through the process of downloading from the App Store or Play Store. It also increases the likelihood that they’ll follow through and start engaging with your app.
By default, web apps are designed to support any operating system (Windows, iOS, Android, etc.). They can interface with various screen sizes and function on all kinds of platforms, as long as the user has access to a web browser.
Better Customer Service
Because web apps are easy to use, don’t require additional downloads, and offer a range of functions, they allow you to provide your customers and clients with a higher level of service. This generally leads to increased customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.
Web apps also come with some cons that all business owners should keep in mind, including these:
Potentially Slower Performance
Because web apps are linked directly to web browsers, their size tends to be larger than that of native desktop apps. The larger size can inhibit performance and may cause the web app to be slower than a native app.
Potential Security Risks
Although web apps are less likely to be hacked than websites, there are still some potential security risks to keep in mind. They may not be as secure as native apps, but with the help of protocols like SSL enforcement, you can reduce the risk of a data breach and keep your customers’ data safe.
Lack of Awareness
Because web apps are not available in the Play Store or App Store, there is less of a chance that people will find them organically.
If you want people to use your web app, you’ll need to work on growing your audience and building awareness of your brand in other ways. You’ll have to drive people to your website first so they can learn about the app and find out what it offers them.
Web apps are dependent on websites. They don’t exist on their own. This means that if your website fails, you’ll run into issues with your web app as well.
Web apps are also dependent on an internet connection. If your customers do not have access to a reliable internet connection, they won’t be able to utilize your app and experience all the benefits it has to offer.
Website vs Web App: Similarities and Differences
To the untrained eye, a static website and a web app might seem like the same thing. They’re both accessed by typing a URL into a web browser, after all.
There are some important distinctions between websites and web apps, though, and you’ll need to understand those so you can choose the right one for your business. Some of the most noteworthy differences are discussed below:
Websites are typically much simpler than web apps. This is the case when it comes to the design and development processes, as well as the tasks users can perform when they engage with the website or web app.
Websites are meant to provide information, whereas web apps are meant for interaction.
Users can read the information provided via a website, watch a video, or listen to an audio file. However, they can’t manipulate the data presented.
With a web app, users can gain information and alter the data in specific ways.
Because web applications offer a wider range of functions, they require authentication before someone can use them.
With informational websites, authentication is typically not required. However, some users may register to get regular updates or to access specific types of content.
Another difference between websites and web apps has to do with precompilation.
Precompilation involves compiling a project’s code into specific assemblies. This results in faster initial response times and protects the project’s source code.
Websites don’t need to be precompiled before they’re launched, but web apps do.
With a website, you can make small changes by updating the HMTL code. You don’t need to recompile the whole project’s code. With web apps, though, all changes — even small ones — require you to recompile and deploy the entire project.
What Is the Process of Developing a Static Website?
In general, the process of developing a static website is simpler than the process required to develop a web app. It’s not necessarily easy to do, though, especially if you don’t have a background in web development.
Here are the steps you’ll go through to create your business’s static website:
The first thing developers will do when creating a static website is gather information. They’ll want to learn about your business, your goals, your plans for the website, and how you want to use it.
Plan Your Website
Once they understand your vision, the developers will get to work planning your website. This involves creating a sitemap and wireframes to clarify the layout of your site and figure out how people will navigate from one page to another.
Design Your Website
Once you’re approved the basic layout, the developers will get to work designing various pages of your site. This includes making plans for colors, fonts, and logos used throughout the site.
Create Your Website
After you’ve signed off on the design elements of your site, the developers will get to work building it and creating a prototype for your to test. During this stage, they’ll write the code and create the files that will make up your website.
The content writing process typically overlaps with the other stages of web development. You may handle this yourself, or someone from your marketing team may be in charge of it.
During this stage, they’ll write the copy that will be displayed on your website. This includes the description of your business for the “About Us” page, as well as any blog posts you want to publish.
Test, Review, and Launch Your Website
After the developers are finished coding, they’ll be ready to test your website and have you review it. If you’re happy with how everything looks and functions, they’ll go ahead and launch it.
Maintain Your Website
The work isn’t over yet. Your developers will need to maintain your site and make sure it stays as functional as possible. They’ll make regular updates and address any issues that pop up after the launch, too.
How Much Does Static Website Development Cost?
Static websites are typically less expensive to develop compared to more complex sites. This doesn’t mean they’re cheap, though.
In 2022, the average cost of website development ranges from $12,000 all the way to $150,000. The final price depends on a lot of factors, including the number of web pages required, the complexity of the design, and the deadline by which you need it launched.
You’ll need to factor the price of maintenance into your budget, too. This can range from $35 to $5,000 per month — again, the final price depends on the complexity of your website and the amount of maintenance required to keep it running smoothly.
What Is the Process of Developing a Web App?
The stages of web app development are similar to the stages of website development. The main difference is the amount of work that goes into each of these stages. Here are some specific steps your development team will go through when creating your web app:
Web app developers, just like website developers, start by collecting information. They need to learn about your business goals and what you want to accomplish with the app before they can start creating it.
Planning Your Web App
Next, they’ll move on to the planning stage. As is the case with the web design process, this involves creating sitemaps and wireframes to help you understand the layout and navigation of the app.
Design Your Web App
If you approve of the plans for your web app, the developers will move on and get to work designing it. This includes choosing the colors, images, logos, and fonts used throughout the app.
You or someone on your team will need to create the copy for the app, too. This includes everything from the welcome page and About Us page to product descriptions, service descriptions, and calls to action.
Program Your Web App
Next, the developers will move on and start writing code to create your web app. This is a time-consuming process, especially if you have a more complicated web app in mind, but it’s worth the wait.
Test and Launch Your Web App
After the app is finished, the developers will test every aspect of it and get final approval from you. From here, once everything is working properly, they will move forward and launch the app.
Maintain Your Web App
If you run into issues along the way or want to make updates to the web app, your developers will assist you. They’ll go back to the drawing board, figure out what went wrong, and make changes so that the app continues to function well.
How Much Does Web App Development Cost?
Similar to the development cost for static websites, web app development cost varies depending on the complexity of the app and the specific functions you want it to perform.
For a simple app, most developers charge between $15,000 and $35,000. For a moderately complex app, you can expect to pay between $30,000 and $50,000. Complex apps with a wide range of features typically cost upwards of $60,000.
How to Choose a Developer
It doesn’t matter if you want to create a static website or a web application. You need to partner with the right developer.
Unless you have an extensive coding background or a development professional on your staff, you’ll need a skilled developer to help you turn your vision into a reality. The following tips will help you find the best person for the job:
Get a Referral
Do you know anyone who has recently created a website, web app, or both for their business? If so, ask them which developer they worked with and if they’d recommend them.
These days, you can find online reviews for almost anything, including web development agencies. Read online reviews (ideally from third-party review sites) to find a developer that has a good reputation.
Look at Their Portfolio
It’s always a good idea to check out a developer’s portfolio before deciding to work with them. This gives you a chance to review their work and see if their style lines up with your vision and goals.
Schedule a Consult
Most developers are happy to set up a free consult with you and talk to you about their services. This gives them a chance to pitch themselves, and it gives you a chance to decide whether or not they’re a good fit.
Ask About Experience
During the consult, ask about the developer’s experience. Find out how long they’ve been working and what kinds of businesses they typically work with.
Get a Quote
Finally, ask for a quote.
Compare quotes from multiple developers, but don’t let price be the only factor you take into account. It can be worth it to spend more to get a high-quality website or web app.
Remember, most developers offer financing, too, to help offset the upfront cost of creating a website or app.
Need Help with Web App or Website Development?
Now that you know more about the differences between a static website and a web application? Do you know which one you want to invest in to grow your business?Whether you want to develop a website or a web app, our team is here for you at Alpha Bravo Development. Contact us for more information or to get a free quote today.