Web application versus web siteWritten by Erik Sacré on 18 Jan 2013.
My company, Sacryn, focuses on web applications. When a person asks me what I do, and I tell them that I work with small software teams to develop web applications, I often see a puzzled look on their face. What is a web application? And why would anyone want that? Other times people think I’m talking about web sites.
So what is a web site?
According to Wikipedia a web site is a set of related web pages containing content such as text, images, video, audio, etc… A web site is accessible via a network such as the Internet…
Let’s simplify: a web site is about content. For the most part it is meant to be read or viewed, but it has very little interaction other than navigation. Companies use web sites as a kind of brochure, describing their products and services.
Users can view a web site by using a web browser, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer. With the popularity of smartphones, many users will view a web site via a mobile browser, i.e. a web browser on a mobile phone. Some sites, like ours, will adapt their form and shape to the smaller screen sizes.
Most company web sites are used for marketing purposes. Often there will be contact forms or requests to subscribe to a newsletter.
There are many web site designers, ranging from individuals to large companies. Sacryn is not one of them. We do not design web sites. Instead we focus exclusively on crafting web applications.
So what is a web application?
Back to Wikipedia: a web application is an application that is accessed by users over a network such as the Internet…
Let’s simplify: a web application is about interaction. Some well-known web applications include Google Mail, Google Calendar, Facebook and Twitter. Why do we call these ‘applications’ and not ‘sites’? Because you interact with them. You will post a status on Facebook. This status is shown to whomever you share it with. If someone comments on your post, you will receive an email notification.
The examples given above are (mostly) free. However, there are many professional web applications that are offered as paid services, e.g. Basecamp, a project management app, or Harvest, an application for tracking time.
Most of these applications are used via a web browser, but this is not a must. Some of these applications have a special-purpose app running on a smartphone. Others don’t interact with users directly, but are used as a service by other applications via an API.
Sacryn focuses on creating web applications. We help entrepreneurs and small companies who have a need for a web app, but who do not have sufficient know-how to turn this need into a product or service.
App versus Application
App is just an abbreviation.
When I talk about web applications I will sometimes call them web apps. Today most people understand the term ‘app’ because of things like Apple’s App Store. ‘App’ is just an abbreviation for ‘Application’.