Website and Web App Differences
As the initial research elaborated the main difference between the Website and Web 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.
- On the other hand, a project management Web App like Trello has a design that is much more focused on task completion and accessibility.
- 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."
In conclusion, the main difference between the Website and Web App emerges from its purpose. As shown in the illustration above, a website is suitable for content consumption, and its design focused on the information layout. On the other hand, a Web App is for task completion and its design focused on interactivity. While both Mobile App and Web App could have high performance, personalization, and complex calculation capability, mobile apps have few advantages, such as more convenient for gaming, push notifications, and regular usage. Because Web Apps can be accessed on bigger devices, it can be more suitable for tasks, such as data analysis, payment, and file manipulation.