As interactivity becomes one of the most important web design trends, web apps are increasingly preferred over static websites.
The differences between web apps, native apps, and websites are blurry and there is a lot of confusion surrounding the different terms.
So, what is a web app? Simply put, it is an action-oriented, responsive website, which functions like a downloadable application, but unlike a native app, it does not have to be installed on your computer or phone. The boundaries between a website and a web app are also fluid. A website, for example, a blog, usually consists of static elements such as text and images. A web application offers interactive added value, for example, you can use it to book a hotel room, or manage your tasks online. To put it simply, web apps are programs that run purely via the browser. The most common example of a web app is Google!
Benefits of Web Apps
Web applications have numerous advantages:
– They run independently of the platform and the operating system used.
– Web apps function anywhere as long as there is an internet connection and a browser.
– You only save very little data locally – that is, on your end device.
– They are not downloaded from an app store or any other source. Instead, you just visit the URL.
– It is always up-to-date, every user has the latest version and time-consuming updates are no longer necessary.
Disadvantages of Web Apps
However, web apps come along with a few challenges that should be taken into consideration:
– Regular web apps require a permanent internet connection. Depending on the application, the speed must be sufficiently fast.
– Applications that are complex (e.g. interactive games) run significantly slower than native apps.
– They might be rare to discover as they are not listed in a database as mobile apps (e.g. the app store)
– Web apps lack quality control and as a result, both safety and security are not guaranteed.
Examples of Web Apps
Nowadays there are countless web apps, that allow better communication between businesses and their customers. These include, among others:
– Video platforms
YouTube, Vimeo, and Amazon Prime Video are all streaming services that are accessible without downloading and installing a file in your browser.
– Office tools
Asana and Trello are perfect examples of modern web apps that works purely via the cloud and offer project management and team collaboration services.
– Online stores
Some of the most successful online stores such as Amazon, eBay, and Zalando started as a pure web application linked with ERP and CRM.
– Learning platforms
Salesforce and Trailhead are also typical examples of web apps, that enable employees to acquire important skills. New employees are trained, managers improve their HR management skills and the entire workforce gets to know the new products and skills in a playful way (gamification).
Web App or Website?
The web application vs website dilemma is quite present, especially for new entrepreneurs launching the online presence of their business. If the main focus is to showcase your products or services, you should consider the development of a static website. For an e-commerce platform, a real estate app, a management system, or a product with certain functionality, you most probably need a web app.