Characteristic Differences Between a Website and an App

The research team focused more on the difference between a native or mobile app and Web Apps. Throughout the research process, we found several different definitions about the difference between Website and Web App, but we found the definition by Careerfoundry the most compact and eloquent, “a web app is a website that is designed fluidly, responding to being viewed on a smartphone.”

Native Mobile App

  • According to CareerFoundry, Native mobile apps are developed for a specific platform using different coding languages and Integrated Development Environments (IDE) depending on the device, Objective-C or Swift for Apple phones and Java using the Android Studio or Eclipse IDE for Android phones.
  • Both Apple and Google provide their own development tools, interface elements and software development kits (SDK) for developers’ use.
  • As the development process and tools used for the different platforms vary, the cost of development increases, and the potential reach of the app decreases. This is where the Website or Web app has an advantage over Mobile Native App, as it does works on any device and browser, which in turn, has a broader reach.

Mobile Native App – Advantages

  • According to WireDelta, Mobile Apps load 1.5 times faster than web apps .
  • As Mobile Apps have access to system resources, such as cameras, GPS, accelerometer, and Face ID/fingerprint, they offer greater functionality.
  • Because web based apps read from a browser they don’t work offline, while a mobile app can.
  • Most of the industry insiders agree that mobile apps are more secure because the app has to be screened by Apple or Google in order to be placed in the stores.
  • As per CareerFounry, Mobile apps are “easier to build due to the availability of developer tools, interface elements and SDKs”

Mobile Native App – Disadvantage

  • As noted before it’s usually more expensive to build a mobile app than web apps .
  • Due to the compatibility issue, it takes more time and work to have an app on both operation systems.
  • More costly to maintain and update, as maintenance must be done separately for the platforms.
  • In certain cases, “It may prove difficult to get a native app approved by the app store.”
  • Short shelf life, “app shelf-life is short; less than 30 days according to research.”


  • According to an expert, “the primary aim of a website is to provide information.” On the other hand, “the primary aim of a web application is to let the user perform a task. Web applications are meant to solve a problem of the users or satisfy their desire.”
  • Thus, Information Architecture has the main role in developing a web and decide how to layout the information, which depend on the function of the website.
  • For instance, a website of a news outlet, such as CNN, has one main goal to share the news. Thus, the website is designed to be easy to navigate and find useful articles.

CNN - Website

  • On the other hand, a project management Web App like Trello has a design that is much more focused on task completion and accessibility.

Trello - Web App

  • Design features unique to Web is to choose between responsive or adaptive design, as a web app has to fit the screen of every device that users have.
  • According to Clear Bridge Mobile, responsive “design responds to changes in browser width by re-adjusting the design elements to fit the available space. Adaptive design “has multiple fixed layout sizes. When the site detects the available space, it selects the layout most appropriate for the screen.”
  • Moreover, design considerations specific to mobile apps are the use of gestures, screen size, user input.
    • It’s important to keep elements, such as buttons, images, and icons, a minimum because of the limited screen size of the mobile device.
    • Due to the relatively small size of the keyboard on the mobile device, it’s better to minimize user input, because typing on a phone could be tedious.
    • Developers could leverage familiar gestures to create “shortcuts for navigation and key functions.”
Website Vs Web App



  • A website’s main purpose is to facilitate navigation for users and “extract relevant information that meets their needs.”


  • 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.
  • 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


  • A web app’s main purpose is to be responsive to user actions, be interactive, and allow users to “manipulate data and make requests.”


  • According to Imaginovation, web apps’ benefits include personalized experience, expandability, device capabilities leverage, and customer satisfaction.
  • 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.
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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