What is the difference between a website, web app, and mobile app?

Websites and apps are used by most people virtually every day. While the differences between websites and mobile apps are apparent at first glance, some people may be unaware that the “website” they are using is actually a web app. This article will dispel any doubts about the definitions and differences between websites and all types of applications. In addition, we will suggest which ones are the most useful for companies.

What is a website?

Seemingly everyone knows what a website is, after all, we use them every day. The snag is that every day we use not only websites but also web applications, which hardly anyone knows to exist at all. So let’s start with a definition. A web page is a collection of elements (including content, graphics, videos, and hyperlinks) that are connected to each other by navigation and links, opened by a web browser. In other words, it is an HTML document, made available on the web by a web server. Several web pages make up a website. An example of this is our site, where you will find various texts, graphics, or a redirect to this blog, but you can’t interact with it in any way, except by filling out a contact form, which we encourage you to do!

What is a web app?

A web application, also called a web application, is a computer program that runs on a web server. Web browsers are used to operate this type of application. Their main feature is that the user can interact with the application and receive specific solutions.

Web-based applications are easy to maintain because they do not require user-confirmed updates, and they are also easily accessible from any device that has an Internet connection. In addition, they provide security for the data, which is stored on an external server, so it won’t disappear even if the device is damaged.

Types of web applications

Web applications are custom-built and are always tailored to individual needs. With this in mind, several types of applications can be distinguished. These include:

  • social media applications, allowing you to communicate with friends and non-friends, observe creators and post from your life, e.g., Facebook, TikTok,

  • sales applications, for shopping and conducting auctions. A sales application is, for example, Allegro,

  • transaction applications, where payments are made, and online orders are handled. Banking platforms, for example, operate on this principle.

  • advertising applications, where you post offers to sell or perform services, such as Gratka,

  • e-learning applications, where one can do exercises, tests, or prepared lessons. An example is the Duolingo language learning application,

  • competition applications, which are created most often on the occasion of promotional campaigns. They allow you to send solutions to contest tasks,

There are also less popular types of applications, such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, which are used in companies to manage customer relations, ERP systems, which help organize work, such as stocking goods, and HR applications, which are used when recruiting employees.

Mobile app – definition, and advantages

What a mobile application is probably doesn’t need to be explained, but we wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t squeeze the word “software” in wherever we can. So – a mobile application is a software that you install on a mobile device, i.e., a smartphone or tablet, and that is used to perform specific services. Each mobile application installed increases the number of functions of the device.


As with web applications, we can, by functionality, divide mobile applications into several types, including:

  • social applications, i.e., the well-known Facebook or Instagram, among others,

  • mobile games,

  • apps for making reservations or appointments. An example is the Booking app,

  • financial applications that are gaining popularity. We are talking about bank apps that allow you to manage your bank account,

  • mCommerce, which are online stores available on mobile devices.

In addition to this, we can also mention, for example, lifestyle apps, i.e. dating or fitness-type programs, productivity apps, responsible for organizing time or making to-do lists, educational apps, e.g., for learning foreign languages, or entertainment apps, such as YouTube or Netflix.

Progressive Web App

There is also such a thing as a Progressive Web App or a Progressive Web Application. PWA is a story for a completely different text, but in a nutshell: it is a web application that can be installed on any device, whether it is a computer or a mobile device. Most importantly, such apps also work without an internet connection, as they rely on data that is cached earlier when visiting online.

And one more thing… the desktop app

To complete the lecture already, let’s add what a desktop application is. It is a program that is installed on a desktop or laptop computer. No internet connection is needed for their operation. Their biggest advantage is precisely the possibility of offline operation and the lack of problems with cooperation with other devices, such as printers, cash registers, or barcode readers.

What is the difference between a web application and a website?

The definitions alone have already outlined the differences between web applications and websites. But let’s sum it up in one place. The first and most important difference, from the user’s point of view, is the purpose. Websites have an informational function, meaning that they are used to browse the content posted here and get specific news. It’s kind of like a newspaper or pamphlet, only online. Web applications, on the other hand, are interactive, meaning that you can perform some action in them and get specific solutions.

The second difference is the technologies that are used to create applications and sites. To build web pages, HTML, which describes the structure of the page, CSS, which is the language responsible for the appearance of the page, and JavaScript are used. However, this is not enough to create a web application. This is also where technologies such as React, Angular, Python, and Django come in.

Why is it cheaper to create a website than to create an app?

This is a question we often hear when talking to customers. We already answer not only in relation to web applications, but also mobile applications. The answer is simple, but not obvious—applications are much more complicated than websites. It is simply faster and simpler to build a site that has only informational functions. An app, on the other hand, by virtue of the fact that it is interactive and has certain functionalities, requires more work and, more importantly, must support the use cases that the client wants to make. What does this mean? A website has one use case – someone wants to display something, the end of the story. In the case of an app, on the other hand, we have, for example, login, registration, password reset, email confirmation, and phone number—such flow has to be handled, as well as scenarios when something doesn’t work out at some step, etc.

Another difference—web application vs. mobile application

Distinguishing between a mobile app and a web app is easier than recognizing the differences between a website and a web application. A mobile app, as the name suggests, is designed for mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. They need to be installed through stores, including Google Play (for Android), App Store (for iOS), or AppGallery. Web apps, on the other hand, are opened in browsers after typing in the appropriate address. These are the main differences. Besides, mobile apps are created for specific software (Android or iOS), while web apps adapt to the device on which they are opened. In addition, the former can also work offline, which is impossible with web apps.

Let’s point out, however, that most apps are available in both web and mobile versions. Well, web applications, of course, can also be opened on mobile devices—using a browser. However, it should be noted that the web application in the mobile version is not as intuitive as the mobile app. It is not as well customized and lacks full fluidity.

What to choose?

Virtually everyone who runs a business of some kind should have a website, but does every business need an app? To begin with, we need to answer one important question: what are our needs? If we only need to provide some information, a simple website is perfectly sufficient. If, on the other hand, the nature of the business requires improved interaction with the user, such as registering a visit to the salon, an app will be most useful.

Of course, apps build greater user involvement and make users, using the app on a daily basis, become more connected with the company. They are definitely superior to websites in terms of functionality, but the most common inhibitor is the higher costs associated with app development. Mobile apps are gaining popularity because… after all, today’s users practically never part with their smartphones. Brands, however, usually decide to create two versions—web and mobile, while it happens that they present other, additional options. Examples include the already mentioned Duolingo, Facebook, Instagram, or pyszne.pl.

Many people nowadays say—you are not online, you do not exist. And, in fact, it is hard to disagree with this. The Internet, above all, allows you to show yourself to many potential customers. Websites have replaced paper information brochures, while through apps, users are more engaged in interactions with a brand. Now you know the difference between websites and apps, you also know what to follow when choosing one. And should you need a mobile app… you know where to look for us!

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