Websites are essential, period. These interlinked pages can serve as a virtual store or they can serve as your virtual information brochure. Anyway, it is the epitome of business credibility. 80% of the consumers first research about the business through google. Yes! They don't look for your account on social media (contrary to the belief) but your business is searched on google.
For this particular reason, a website is a necessity. Now for the website you get two options. A Website and a Web Application.
A website consists of a set of universally accessible interlinked web pages under a single domain name. Websites are usually informational with few or no additional features.
A website can effectively showcase your products/ services via creating social proof. It can also help you enhance customer support and works as a great marketing channel as well.
The concept of web development
applications emerged after the advent of software as a service (SaaS). A web application is considered an interactive page that behaves like an application but can be stored and accessed on a browser. The web applications are closely connected to the servers for sending continuous requests.
The bright side of the web application is that it is supported across modern browsers without the need to consume space on the device. The web applications also don't require any update from the user end and have the ability to store data. Web applications are most actively known as hybrid apps as it is the combination of a website and application.
Websites offer limited interaction on the part of the user other than a contract form and signing up to the monthly newsletter. A website does not require continuous updates. A website can be of a single page and have the option to let you sign in and out. The website can also include a map unless it's a primarily interactive function. Websites mainly work as the basic marketing website.
Web Applications are built for User Interaction. A web application allows you to read information and also interact and manipulate the data on the page. The interaction is often in the form of an online chat, making a purchase, following a “friend”, or creating an online profile.
A web application requires some updates and fixing errors often. As web applications are interactive, the page could break with flowing traffic if it's not built for it. Web applications are also used for managing the online store inventory, regularly uploading documents, and managing content.
Websites are simple and can consist of only a single page as well. Since websites are used mainly to display information it does not require databases and back-end programming languages.
The web application requires databases to store information and is built using back-end programming languages such as PHP, Ruby, and python.
Websites and web applications have very different approaches to UI/UX design. UI/UX design refers to the compatibility and easy-to-use ability of a platform while maintaining the speed and other aspects of functionality. The Ui/Ux design of the website is relatively simple since the interaction is not required as such. Websites are just simple displays but on the other hand, the web application UI/UX approach is more critical. The design should be responsive to all the elements without taking too much time and space on the browsers.
web applications require a long process of development to incorporate all the interactive elements. A web application is designed with the collaboration of business analysts, UX experts for the functional requirements. It also requires a quality assurance team to check the responsiveness of the web app. The quality assurance can be long-term and outsourced depending on the project.
A website can be supported across phones and tablets as well as browsers. Since websites are simple, these are the most cost-effective to introduce your business in the market. Web applications are relatively expensive since they support multiple features and are often used in the retailers or e-commerce industry. Web applications are a one-time investment for long-term revenues.
Which option is better depends on the nature of your business? For example, I own a business that provides technical tangible services such as maintenance, cleaning, pick and drop, real estate property, spa/ salon, and event management. You should go for a simple website that displays your services briefly with an attached form for contact.
On the other hand, any e-commerce business or social platform that requires a cart, responsive chats, and so on goes for the web application.