As a web development company, one of our challenges is explaining to prospective customers what it is we do. It’s challenging because even though we live in a high-tech world, most people still don’t understand the powerful technology behind the applications they interact with daily. They hear “web”, they think “websites.” What we do is much more complex than that.

The reason we want potential clients to understand this is so they have a better understanding of which of our services they may need. To help delineate the differences between what we do and what people think we do, we put together a short, non-comprehensive chart.

So what’s the difference between websites and web applications?

For those of you who aren’t technical, here’s a brief explanation of the difference between websites and web applications. When we refer to websites, we are thinking of something similar to a magazine or a billboard. Once it’s published, the content is “static,” or unchanged, until the next time it’s published or updated. Everyone who visits the site has the same experience and sees the same content, no matter who they are.

A web application, in contrast, updates dynamically in response to the person who is using it. What you see depends on who you are and the actions you take, and there is code running behind the scenes to customize your experience.

Think about something like Twitter, or Facebook. These are web applications. When you log in to Facebook, the application makes sure you are who you say you are, and loads a page featuring your friends and history, maybe some suggestions of what to post. Behind the scenes, when you update a status or add a photo album, that data gets saved in a database. Facebook uses algorithms to analyze which “friends” and posts you pay more attention to, and updates your feed to make sure you see more of what you like. It runs facial recognition software against your photos and suggests people you might tag. It surfaces sponsored posts for you to see based on your profile and actions on the site. These are just a few examples of what Facebook does. Handling all this data in near-real time means there’s a lot of code running in the background as you use the app. That’s true for many of the web applications you use today.

With fewer than a dozen full-time employees, we’re no Twitter or Facebook. But we are a web development consultancy full of expert programmers. This means the applications we build have much more in common with something like Facebook than with the DIY website your cousin built for his car detailing business.

We understand the confusion.

Remember the chart from the beginning of the post?  Even though we focus on the items on the right, from time to time, we also do some of the items on the left side of the chart.

We aren’t a marketing company, although we are happy to make you a product worth marketing and connect you with marketing experts that get your product in front of the right customers. We don’t do SEO, but we’ll embed meta tags in your app so it gets indexed correctly by search engines.

We don’t build websites, but we are happy to make sure your website looks great and integrates well with the product we built for your business. We don’t only build databases, although databases and database management are key parts of the data-rich applications we build.

We don’t do “IT”, but that term has come to mean “complex technical computer-ey things”, and that is something we can definitely handle. 🙂

And what’s on the chart’s right side isn’t a comprehensive list, but more like a sample platter.In terms of what we do, our flexibility and diverse abilities are hard to capture in just a few words.

However, if you need your application to integrate with an existing service, we do that. If you need an application that’s easy for others to integrate with, we do that. We build mobile apps for Android and iPhones, and we will take over legacy projects and get them running smoothly.

Even if you don’t yet understand the full scope of your needs, we are skilled in working with you to help you decide what your top priorities are. If you need a custom solution to your business problem, give us a call.