Is Facebook a website or a web application? 90% of people reading this post are bound to fail this question. If your answer is that Facebook is a website, you’re right-ish. More accurately, Facebook is a web application, not just a mere website.
A website is usually a collection of linked HTML pages or web pages that display content. A collection of those web pages makes up a website. Most websites are static web pages that live on the internet if you read our previous post on Why you should not go for “build and forget” website. However, some website owners are now beginning to create more dynamic, fresh and engaging websites. That’s because online users are more used to engaging and interactive “websites” like Facebook or Twitter.
Now Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and other similar web services aren’t merely websites. They are more accurately referred to as “web applications”. A web application and a website share some similar traits, but that doesn’t make them the same. For instance both a website and a web application have a “url” — the address you type in your web browser to access the service. To access Facebook, you usually type www.facebook.com while accessing the Hataricloud website you’ll likewise type www.hataricloud.com.
The difference between a website and a web application is that a web application has more dynamic functionality than a website. It’s more expensive and complex to build a web application than a website because of the difference components that a web app requires. For instance you can build a website without needing database. It’s very rare to build a web application without needing a database server. That’s because a web application customizes users’ experiences and stores their data so that they can access only their account. A website mostly doesn’t require users to login and therefore might not require a database to persist a users’ state. Most websites act like a TV. Just watch or switch off.
It is of course possible for a website to also have dynamic functionality. A website might be part website, part web application. We can call these “hybrid websites”. These kinds of websites cost a bit more to build than plain-old website because of this dynamic features that the web developer has to add. A web application costs more to build than a plain-old website or hybrid website depending on the functionality. Web applications such as Twitter or Facebook are extremely costly to build. In fact, the owners of these services hire dedicated software developers to work in-house rather than outsource their construction to third party.
At HatariCloud we usually determine whether a client want us to build a plain-old website, a hybrid website or web application. It’s from that point that we determine if we can build it and at what cost or if it’s best if the client hired a dedicated team of developers to work on their project.