What is a Web Application?

A web application is software that runs in your web browser. Businesses have to exchange information and deliver services remotely. They use web applications to connect with customers conveniently and securely. The most common website features like shopping carts, product search and filtering, instant messaging, and social media newsfeeds are web applications in their design. They allow you to access complex functionality without installing or configuring software.

What are the benefits of web applications?

Web applications have several benefits, with almost all major enterprises utilizing them as part of their user offerings. Here are some of the most common benefits associated with web apps.


Web apps can be accessed from all web browsers and across various personal and business devices. Teams in different locations can access shared documents, content management systems, and other business services through subscription-based web applications. 

Efficient development

As detailed, the development process for web apps is relatively simple and cost-effective for businesses. Small teams can achieve short development cycles, making web applications an efficient and affordable method of building computer programs. In addition, because the same version works across all modern browsers and devices, you won't have to create several different iterations for multiple platforms.

User simplicity

Web apps don't require users to download them, making them easy to access while eliminating the need for end-user maintenance and hard drive capacity. Web applications automatically receive software and security updates, meaning they are always up to date and less at risk of security breaches. 


Businesses using web apps can add users as and when they need, without additional infrastructure or costly hardware. In addition, the vast majority of web application data is stored in the cloud, meaning your business won't have to invest in additional storage capacity to run web apps.

What are some common web applications?

There are numerous types of web applications. Here are some of the most well-known.

Workplace collaboration web applications

Workplace collaboration web apps allow team members to access documents, shared calendars, business instant messaging services, and other enterprise tools.

Ecommerce web applications

Ecommerce web apps such as Amazon.com enable users to browse, search, and pay for products online.

Email web applications

Webmail apps are widely used by enterprises and personal users to access their emails. They often include other communication tools such as instant messaging and video meetings.

Online banking web applications

Business and personal users widely use online banking web apps to access their accounts and other financial products such as loans and mortgages.

Technical documentation

You can use web applications to create and share technical documentation like user manuals, how-to guides and device specifications

How do web applications work?

Web applications have a client-server architecture. Their code is divided into two components—client-side scripts and server-side scripts.  

Client-side architecture

The client-side script deals with user interface functionality like buttons and drop-down boxes. When the end user clicks on the web app link, the web browser loads the client-side script and renders the graphic elements and text for user interaction. For example, the user can read content, watch videos, or fill out details on a contact form. Actions like clicking the submit button go to the server as a client request.

Server-side architecture

The server-side script deals with data processing. The web application server processes the client requests and sends back a response. The requests are usually for more data or to edit or save new data. For example, if the user clicks on the Read More button, the web application server will send content back to the user. If the user clicks the Submit button, the application server will save the user data in the database. In some cases, the server completes the data request and sends the complete HTML page back to the client. This is called server side rendering. 

What is the difference between a web application and a website?

When the internet was newly invented, websites had significantly less functionality than web apps. They were only capable of delivering information to users through static content. You had to install and run software with complex functionality. Web apps were built to bridge the gap between software and static sites. They had functionality and interactive user elements like the software but were delivered using a web browser URL. 

However, web technology has evolved significantly since then. Most modern websites are complex web applications in their design.

What is the difference between a web app and a native app?

A native app is a computer program that has been specifically designed for a particular user environment. One of the most common types of native apps are mobile apps, which are developed using specific programming code. Unlike web apps, native or mobile apps are downloaded by the user to their mobile device, usually through app stores. Native apps can only be accessed on the device they have been downloaded on, and users are responsible for downloading any updates.

Developers have to build different versions of their mobile applications if they want to make them available across operating systems like iOS or Android, ensuring they have as broad a reach as possible. Developers must also ensure their mobile apps adhere to app store standards or risk having their apps rejected. 

How can AWS help with web applications?

AWS Amplify is a complete solution that lets developers easily build, ship, and host full-stack applications on AWS. Web developers can utilize the breadth of AWS services without in-depth cloud knowledge as use cases evolve. For example, with AWS Amplify, you can:

  • Build and connect your app's backend

  • Build and test your UI-optimized frontend

  • Manage users and content

  • Configure build settings

AWS Amplify Hosting is a fully managed CI/CD and hosting service for fast, secure, and reliable static and server-side rendered apps that scale with your business. Supports modern web frameworks such as React, Angular, Vue, Next.js, Gatsby, Hugo, Jekyll, and more. With Amplify Hosting, you can:

  • Continuously deploy a static web or server-side rendered app on every code commit.

  • Get reliable hosting, close to your users

  • Build dynamic capabilities to create high-quality, full-stack apps.

Get started with web application development on AWS by creating a free account today!

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