Posted By: Anonymous
I’m stumped trying to come up to a difference between a website and a web application for myself. As I see it, a web site points to a specific page and a web application is more of some sort of ‘portal’ to content and information.
But where I’m stuck is that a web application is still viewed through a browser (is it not?) and a website can still view content dynamically, making the line between web site and application pretty gray.
For instance, does a web site using ASP.NET or AJAX etc become a web application because it can retrieve data dynamically and asynchronously or would a website using PHP and a CMS be more of a web application because it forms the pages on request, based on the request of the client and its content in its databse?
Or maybe I’m totally wrong here – what differentiates between a web application and a website?
This is totally personal and subjective, but I’d say that a website is defined by its content, while a web application is defined by its interaction with the user. That is, a website can plausibly consist of a static content repository that’s dealt out to all visitors, while a web application depends on interaction and requires programmatic user input and data processing.
For example, a news site would be a “website”, but a spreadsheet or a collaborative calendar would be web “applications”. The news site shows essentially the same information to all visitors, while the calendar processes individual data.
Practically, most websites with quickly changing content will also rely on a sophisticated programmatic (and/or database) backend, but at least in principle they’re only defined by their output. The web application on the other hand is essentially a program that runs remotely, and it depends fundamentally on a processing and a data storage backend.