Web application: understand what it is and how it works

This solution, also known as a web application, allows users to access the system over the internet, from a browser, application, and from anywhere.

Among some examples, we can highlight Pinterest, Aliexpress, and Tinder, since users can access both from an app and from the browser, having the same experience.

So, for you to know more about how a web application works and understand if this solution can be useful for your business, keep reading this article!

What is a web application?

The web application is a system hosted in the cloud and executed directly in the browser (browser), and can be executed by any user, both on mobile devices and desktops.

While at some level these systems need a network, some applications are not necessarily on the internet, available to everyone.

This is the case with ERPs, which can be based on internal networks, although they continue to be web-based.

Here are some types of web applications:

  • Web-based systems – ERPs, CRMs, and others;
  • Websites – e-commerces, portals, and intranet;
  • SaaS – Email archiving.

“Are a website and a web application the same thing?”


Although they may be in the same environment, there are some differences between a website and a web application.

When you browse a website, you expect to find information about a particular product or service, as is the case with institutional pages, for example.

In addition, you can also fill in a contact form, for example, and browse the pages.

A web application works like a system, allowing you to perform more actions than a conventional website.

Thus, it is possible to log in, access environments in which only you have permission, register information, download documents and much more.

How does a web application work?

For a web application to work, it needs a server (web and app) and a database

The web servers manage the requests that come from the user. Meanwhile, the application server completes the requested task. 

Finally, a database can be used to store whatever information is needed.

Another detail of how a web app works is that the user does not need to download anything to use it. 

Check out the process of working a web application below:

  1. First, the user sends a request to the web server over the Internet via a browser or an application;
  2. This request is then forwarded to a web server ;
  3. The server then performs the requested function – such as searching the application database or processing existing data – and then returns the results of the requested data;
  4. After that, the results are then sent to the web server from the web application server with the data requested by the user;
  5. Finally, the web server displays the requested information to the user.

Examples of web applications

There are popular email programs like Gmail and Hotmail, as well as instant messaging services that are also web applications.

Web apps also allow team members to work together on the same document, this is the case with Google Workspace, including Google Docs, Google SlidesGoogle Sheets, and cloud storage

It is also important to remember that web applications evolve to respond to the growing need to use the mobile internet. 

That’s why developers increasingly create mobile applications that connect to the Internet. 

An example of this evolution is the iFood apps, Dropbox or the Facebook app that you can download and use on your smartphone or tablet. 

Other examples are shopping carts, online retailing, wikis, and banking.

Below, we have selected 3 examples of web applications for you to understand the scope of this tool:


OLX is basically a classified page, present in over 40 countries. 

To facilitate the operation, with a vast volume of requests and transactions carried out by users, a web application was needed.

In addition, the system serves customers who also do not have a very good connection, as is the case with the 2g network.


Available both on desktop and from a web app, the Pet love platform is a good example of a web application.

The company is the largest online pet shop. offering products and services for domestic animals. 

The idea of ​​using an app was to improve customer experience and increase e-commerce sales.


Airbnb is one of the largest collaborative hosting platforms in the world. 

Thus, when accessing your “site”, you can see right away that it is not a corporate page.

In addition, the web-based system allows the user to register as a host, or search for a hosting option.

The same experience, with some differences, can be seen in the app version.

What are the advantages of a web application?

Companies need to exchange information and complete transactions with their customers. 

The internet can be an excellent and inexpensive channel for this purpose, as long as there is a way to capture and store all the necessary data and show the results to users. 

Thanks to web applications, users can interact with the company using shopping carts or content management, exchange, and information request systems.

Some common benefits of web apps include:

  • They don’t need installation.
  • You can access it through various platforms such as desktop, laptop or mobile.
  • It is also possible to access through any browser.
  • Eliminates the need for a specific type of computer or a specific operating system for development.
  • Reduce software piracy in subscription-based web applications.

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