Web Sites, Web Apps, Mobile Sites, Mobile Apps: What’s the Difference?

Over the last two decades, the Internet has grown expanded, exploded and is now impossible to ignore, making any keyboard without an Internet connection pretty much useless. Same goes for mobile devices, where smart phones are now a “need” instead of a “want”. Through the Internet we have access to websites and web applications, and through mobile devices comes mobile sites and mobile applications. What exactly is the difference between all of these terms?



A website usually refers to the front-end interface through which the public interacts with a business online. They are typically informal in nature with a limited amount of advanced functionality. Simple websites consist primarily of static content where the data displayed is the same for every visitor and content changes are infrequent. More advanced websites may have features such as eCommerce and content management. These sites include CNN.com, Nytimes.com and Nike.com.

Web Applications

Web applications are presented as either a website or as part of a website, but not all websites are web applications. A web app is a website that DOES something other than display content to the masses. It’s intended for user interaction and transactions, performing actual business functions, and not simply displaying information to a user.

Examples of web apps include eBay, PayPal, Facebook, Twitter and Gmail. If you can think of a site where you create an account, log in, and conduct some actual business, it’s probably a web app.

Mobile Sites

A mobile site is similar to any other website in that it consists of browser-based HTML pages that are linked together and accessed over the Internet (for mobile typically Wifi, 3G or 4G networks). The obvious characteristic that distinguishes a mobile website from a standard web site is the fact that it is designed for a smaller handheld display and touchscreen interface. Like a typical website, mobile sites can display text content data, images and videos. They can also access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call (to dial a phone number) or location-based mapping.

Mobile Applications

Mobile apps are actual applications that are downloaded and installed on your mobile device, rather than being rendered within a browser. Users visit device-specific portals such as Apple’s App Store, Android Market, or Blackberry App World in order to find and download apps for a given operating system. The app may pull data from the Internet in a similar fashion to a web site, or it may download the content so it can be accessed without an Internet connection.

In Conclusion

We hope that you now have a better understanding between websites, web applications, mobile sites and mobile applications. Do one of these solutions interest you and may benefit your company? Here at Digital Trike, we build all of our solutions for our clients with a purpose. Anyone can build a web site or web application  these days, but can they build you one that is customized to meet your business’ specific needs? We can! Whether you’re in need of a simple website or an advanced mobile application, we’re here to help your ideas come to life.