Website or Web Application: 4 Questions You Should Ask

Imagine: You’re a ‘mom-and-pop’ coffee shop in need of a website. At first, you just want to display your menu, store hours, and images showcasing your store and offerings. You reach out to a digital agency such as KITS Creativ to build your website. Simple enough.

Then, as your business and brand grows, you want to start selling coffee beans online and introduce a forum, where coffee enthusiasts can discuss all things coffee. You want these new features customized to match your brand, and you want it to have certain functionality and styling. At this point, your simple website turns into a more complex web application — something difficult for content management systems (CMS) like Wordpress, Squarespace, or Wix to create. Not to say you can’t create an e-commerce website using a CMS, customizations for website behavior and functionality just become limited.

So, do you need a website or website application? The difference between the two boils down to this: a website is informational and a web application is interactive.

Below are four main questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether you need a website or web application.

Question 1: How do I want my customers to use the website?

If it’s just to view your menu, hours of operations, static map, and gallery of product images, then a regular website is all you need.

Gif: Informational fan page site for actress Sydney Viengluang

Gif: Informational fan page site for actress Sydney Viengluang

Question 2: Do I see my website evolving beyond informational, i.e. selling products, discussion forum, chat plugins, and user logins?

You are charting into web application territory, which can be complex when you are involving user interactions and logins.

Gif: Live chat integration using Facebook Messenger plugin

Gif: Live chat integration using Facebook Messenger plugin

Question 3: What is my budget? 

Photo: fundbox.com

Photo: fundbox.com

A website can range from free like Wix (must use Wix hosted url) to $1-5K. You can still create a e-commerce web application on a CMS such as Squarespace or Wordpress but building one with custom functions outside of the scope of those CMSs can gradually increase your overall spend.

A web application as such can range from $5-25K and can top off well beyond six figures depending on who you hire and the application’s requirements.

Question 4: Do I want a unique look, custom functionality, and interactive data?

Building and maintaining an interactive site like Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit involves many designers and developers to create a unique UI/UX that looks and behaves a certain way in addition to continuously updated data. This is a full end to end application that involves a lot of coding and considerable investment.

The bottomline

Having an online presence is a must for all businesses, small or large, brick and mortar or online. Studies show that the vast majority of consumers search a business online before making a purchase decision. Investing in a website or web application will not only increase your visibility but pay long-term dividends.

Gauging your need for a website and determining a budget can be overwhelming. Fear not, our team is on hand to address any concerns you may have. We’ll walk you through the process and help you determine the best route to take for your business.