At its most simplistic level a website displays static information. When a website performs functional services rather than just displaying information - such as using a form to gather information - it has “application” elements. Any site that collects, stores and processes information is an application (such as an e-commerce site, for example). Many sites contain a combination of static pages and applications.
Forms are also applications. They perform functional services such as gathering information about users, enabling a user to purchase, or as a way of contacting the company. Search functions also perform a functional service. The form asks for information, the user fills in the form, clicks the submit button, and the application processes the information.
Applications can vary enormously in size, complexity, and scope. Some can be composed of off-the-shelf commercial or open-source software, others must be custom programmed. Most are a combination of both. In all cases, the definition of requirements to a fairly fine degree of detail is needed before construction can begin. Verification and testing processes must be rigorous to ensure the website behaves as expected.
There are innumerable other application possibilities. Examples are:
- the ability for website owners to directly perform content editing, otherwise known as CMS (content management system)
- the use of blogs, forums, newsletters, email generation and distribution
- assigning special areas for membership sign up and/or restricting content access to registered users.
When planning and exploring requirements, always consider everything you would like the site to accomplish, even if not all features are within your current budget scope. Consideration of future functionality can affect the site platform decision.
Many types of technologies and products are used to construct web applications. See our About Us page for more information on the development tools we frequently use.