“Web app,” “web site,” “web page,” “web portal…” This article explains what different web terms mean and offers answers to common questions about web-based digital tools from highly rated Quora experts.


Running your business in the digital age can be confusing. Everyone has a website, and many businesses also leverage mobile apps. But sometimes a website or a mobile app doesn’t get the job done.

So, what do you call a digital product that isn’t a static website, but isn’t a mobile application either?

You aren’t the only one asking that question. In this article, we’ll run through some basic terminology related to the various types of digital web-based tools, and then highlight three of our favorite Quora answers about the differences between web apps, web pages, web portals and more.

>> Wondering about the cost of web apps? Read How Much Should You Spend on a Web App? to learn about your two basic options.

Glossary of Web Terms

Website and Web Page | Web Terms

A website is a collection of web pages built around a specific topic. The content is meant to be read and absorbed. The main way that a reader interacts with a website is through absorbing information in a one-way manner. As far as web platforms go, websites are typically the least interactive.

Comment sections, forms, and calls to action are providing an increased level of interactivity, but that is not their stated purpose.

Web Application | Web Terms

By definition, web applications are more interactive. Web applications are built and designed around performing some type of function. Browser capabilities make it more complicated to develop a web application than a website.

Progressive Web Apps | Web Terms

A progressive web app has a similar feel to a native mobile app, but it is browser-based. They carry the capabilities of a native mobile app, and the benefits that come to the user from being browser-based.

Web Portal | Web Terms

A web portal is simply a website designed as the single port of entry for information. It often serves as a library for specific types of content.

Native Mobile Apps

Native mobile apps are smart phone applications tied to one specific operating system. Some alternatives (such as hybrid apps, web apps, and generic mobile apps) can be used across both the Android or iOS platforms, for instance.

Web Terms: The Lines Can Be Blurry

Even though there are distinct differences between these types of web tools, the lines can be blurred from time to time. These products may be used in conjunction with one another.

For instance, the comment section of a newspaper website may be built on software that can be classified as a web application. A company’s intranet is a web portal that can be accessed through use of their static website. There are far more ways that these digital platforms can bleed together – but it helps to understand the key differences.

These Quora answers can help you to understand the different web terms and how each tool is used. We list the question, summarize the answer, and provide a link to it, below.

Quora Answers about Web Terms


1. What is the difference between a web application and a web page?

Amit Ashwini’s Quora answer to this question helps to clarify. The terms are so common that at times they can feel interchangeable, when there are actually some distinct differences between the two.

A website can be used to provide information in a one-way direction, for the user to consume. There’s little room for two-way interaction, which is where web applications come into play. Web applications are designed to perform a specific function, which makes that interactivity built into the product.

There are also key differences in development. Thanks to common blogging software, people can develop and publish websites in a matter of minutes, if they are truly in a hurry to do so. To code a website on your own would require a knowledge in HTML and CSS.

Web applications require programming languages to build in higher-level functionality. The user interface on a web application is typically more intricate, because they were built to complete a task. This makes them more complex to develop than a static website.

You can read more on the differences by reading Amit’s answer.


2. What is the purpose of a web portal?

Daniel Norris gives a thorough explanation on web portals in his Quora answer. He explains that web portals allow businesses to increase engagement with customers, employees and other stakeholders. This is accomplished by allowing the community access to new, relevant information.

There are a variety of types of portals – depending on the information and the audience being served. For instance, a vertical portal could give customers information related to your specific industry. A customer portal may give them access to previous orders, package tracking, or other personalized information. Employee portals can track schedules, insurance, or any information that can improve their ability to perform their jobs.

Businesses and organizations can consider what information may be valuable to their stakeholders and develop the best strategy for providing it. Norris’s web portal answer goes into further details.


3. What are Progressive Web Apps?

Antoni Zolciak provides a thorough explanation on the user benefits of progressive web apps. For instance, users can add the app to their phone’s home screen to improve accessibility. They experience instant loading and a responsive design. This is important for people who may do a majority of their web browsing from a smart phone or tablet. With a PWA, you are enriching the customer experience, forging a stronger relationship.

Progressive web apps are also browser-based. Because of this, software developers no longer need to create multiple versions across platforms, reducing development time.

Zolciak goes into more detail on progressive web applications in his Quora answer.


Developing the right tools for your business or organization can be complicated–but it is also critical in the Information Age. When you strengthen the customer experience through better use of technology, you can truly distinguish your business from the competition.

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