Web Site or Web Application?

Recently I've been thinking about what the differences are between web sites and web applications, if any, and what would be some examples for each. I know that many people, myself included, tend to use the two terms synonymously but after thinking on it, I believe this is a real difference there which hinges on the purpose of the thing and what it is used for.


web site is something that focuses on content. Most sites fall into this category (sorry, I'm going to use "site" to refer to web sites and web applications). Web sites should be designed to lure people in and make it easy for them to browse the content. Possibly after this you'll want to sell them something.

A web application is something that focuses on functionality. They are designed so that a user can achieve some purpose by using it, much in the same way as traditional desktop applications. These types of sites are starting to become more and more popular. Web applications usually make heavy use of Javascript for a better user experience by giving them faster results.

Some examples of web sites are:

Some examples of web applications are:

Hopefully, from this it's clear what I'm trying to get at. Web sites are intended to be vessels for the content, web applications are all about what you can do with them. If you're planning to start a web project, it's important to work out which camp it belongs to first.