Web Development vs Software Development

Have you ever thought about the clash between web development vs software development? If not, then it’s a fine time to get to know them better.

Written by RamotionJul 21, 202113 min read

Last updated: Feb 8, 2024

The dynamic growth of various IT careers has created lots of different opportunities in different software development companies. However, while making so many career paths, the majority of the terminologies used to describe these jobs have not been accurately explained or haven’t been properly defined. Some of them are still misused and sometimes can become conflicting with one another, particularly for those interested in pursuing a career in programming. For example the constant rivalry of web development vs software development. Both are pretty close to each other, but in practice, both of them are completely different. So, let’s consider the core difference between web developer and software engineer to understand how exactly they differ.

What is software development?

Software development provides a sequence of functions that programmers can use to create computer software. By understanding the software development process, it will open up numerous opportunities in the information technology business. The word "software development" refers to the process of creating software or applications using a computer-coded, specialized programming language.

It is a process designed for developing desktop software that involves writing a modern piece of code. Software development involves creating, scheduling, reusing, researching, innovating, simplifying, and expanding the use of existing software. At the same time code the software in a specific programming language, maintain a database to keep the software intact, store the application's operations, and maintain the software against its flaws.

The major methodology used for the software is called Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). The SDLC establishes a global standard for the development and enhancement of all computer programs. It specifies a structure that development teams must follow while designing, developing, and maintaining high-quality applications. The main objective of the software development process is to produce meaningful procedures within the constraints of a particular budget and a given timeframe.

Key Skills of a software developer

There are numerous characteristics and skills that software developers are required to have in their resumes, particularly those that directly relate to coding practices, and frameworks. This is because specialists in this industry must be capable of developing software solutions that address extremely narrow challenges. For instance, if a business was having problems with data management, a software engineer will construct an application that automatically collates massive data sets. The types of projects in which developers are involved are highly dependent on the organization they work on, the clients to whom they are allocated, and the business issues they are trying to solve. With that in mind, software developers frequently possess unique attributes that make them suitable to the employment demands, including the following:

  • Analytical skills - User behaviors and preferences are continually evolving, making it challenging to develop desktop applications that will live long enough. Software developers should assess user behavior and provide recommendations that address their users' evolving design, content, and administration requirements.
  • Critical thinking - Each piece of software code should address a specific problem or requirement, which forces developers to consider the advantages and disadvantages of potential solutions. Finding the optimal solution to a given problem is fundamental to software development, and it requires a high level of attention to detail and a willingness to provide new suggestions.
  • Interpersonal communication - Most software developers do not communicate with so many stakeholders (compared to web developers) when working on major projects, they rely on their interpersonal abilities. Pursuing this career path will need you to collaborate closely with other software engineers, computer scientists, and information technology professionals who may have quite different perspectives on the products you are developing.

What is web development?

Similar to software development, web application development utilizes computer code to construct user interfaces in the form of websites. Although this is not always the case, web developers are frequently involved with the non-design components of online development. Web developers construct interactive web pages by coding and creating markups. These pages might be straightforward as online text files or can have complex structures just like eCommerce websites. So, in the end, if the product can be accessed via a browser, there is a significant probability that it was built by a web developer.

The entire web development is divided into two major parts.

Front-end Development

Front-end development or also referred to as client-side development is the process through which a web developer works on the visual parts of a website. For instance, any digital asset that a user sees on the website can be called a front-end work. Numerous businesses provide expert front-end development services to their clients, resulting in user-friendly and engaging websites that are not just simple to use but also visually appealing. Getting a professional front-end design is critical because this is the most significant component of your website and the first touchpoint for your users.

Back-end Development

The back-end part is sometimes referred to as server-side development, as this is the foundation of your website. This is where all of the codings take place. Although the user does not interact directly with the back-end (but through the front-end), it is vital because it determines how your website will function. Therefore, one should choose a relevant and competent web app development company to create a solid back-end foundation for a website. Otherwise, if anything goes wrong, the website will not be functional to anyone else.

However, whether it is client-side or server-side development that one is discussing, web development, (just like software development) is reliant on code. Furthermore, there is a distinction between web development vs software development. The web development process is capable of producing complex online products (called websites) and thus requiring a more constrained skill set than software development. In most cases, the knowledge of a few specialized programming languages (such as JavaScript/Java), and a firm grasp of the web pages’ business objectives are frequently sufficient for a back-end development process.

Key Skills of a Web Developer

The essential requirements for the majority of web developer positions include a solid knowledge of a LAMP stack, experience with Javascript and PHP languages, and an awareness of web application operations. Depending on the type of web developer profession you're seeking, you may also require additional skills in graphic design or database management. Since web developers are responsible for every single detail that is connected with a website, starting from the creation of the wireframes to managing an existing one. So, it's critical to understand how to host your platform, how the interaction between users and various navigation frameworks is occurring, and how engaging content can enhance the user experience. Other critical abilities and characteristics include:

  • Attention - Every new functionality that is added to a website or web application has to go through multiple rounds of testing to minimize any errors occurrences and optimize the user experience. Therefore, web developers should recognize and handle issues that are connected with their code, layout, operation, and general design.
  • Creativity - Web developers are constantly on the lookout for any modern approaches or trends to apply to their websites. To satisfy their clients, web developer specialists must strike a balance between utility and design while remaining close to the company's primary brand identity. This involves selecting colors, typefaces, and graphics that are consistent with existing business guidelines and marketing.
  • Content Management - Almost all websites become useful only after quality content will be applied and the users will start to interact with it. Publishing blog articles, videos, and other online content are critical for achieving competitive SEO results. And that’s a good reason why web developers should have some familiarity with CMS like WordPress, or HubSpot.

Web developer vs software developer - Education

If you're interested in learning programming to have great job prospects, it's important to understand that, while both software development and web development rely on code, the processes for learning the skills associated with each can be quite different.

One of the most significant distinctions between the two is that becoming a software developer often involves more education. Most software developers must receive a bachelor's degree, during which they will study not only programming, but also computer principles, data architecture, and data structures. If you want to be a software developer, you will almost certainly need to complete an internship or volunteer development work to gain experience before firms will consider hiring you on a full-time basis.

In contrast, web development is a considerably simpler process. While many web developers and software engineers pursue degrees in computer science, the reality is that you can get work as a web developer without a degree. There are various alternatives to degrees and various certificates that can boost your hiring process and that is: coding bootcamps.

Web developer vs software developer - Job Differences

It's simple to say that web developers design websites, but it’s a little more complicated to execute. According to the BLS, these individuals are responsible for a website's appearance, usability, and functionality. They may begin by meeting with a client or manager to discuss website requirements, then develop apps, write code, design graphics, or cooperate with graphic designers, integrate content, and overview web app traffic.

Consider several types of websites - a clothing store website, a gaming website, a news platform, and so on. Each has its unique features and technologies utilized. Exactly that way a web developer can provide a sense of the diverse skill set employed to bring a client's vision to life. The realm of web development encompasses so many areas that many web developers concentrate on mastering a set of certain skills, particularly when first starting.

Computer programs are written by software developers. These individuals create applications or the underlying mechanisms that power a device or manage a network. They may accomplish it by researching user behavior and their needs, then designing, testing, and developing software to fulfill those needs. They produce models and diagrams to advise computer programmers on how to write the required code or they may write the code themselves. These experts will test and monitor their work to ensure that it operates normally and to maintain a reference document for future modifications.

Web developers leverage a varied skill set, integrating artistic elements like design sense with technical skills (coding) and a whole lot of interpersonal ability to figure out what clients and users need. They apply this huge volume of expertise on basically one thing - a website.

On the other hand, software developers work on many various kinds of things, such as desktop programs, mobile applications, and data analytics tools. However, the abilities they employ to make that happen are a bit more streamlined in the technical realm. The project lengths are also a typical differentiator here.

Web developer vs software developer - Job Compensation

Typically, a Software Developer's average income is higher, if compared to the salary of a web developer. However, web developers tend to make more money per hour owing to market demand. Web developers can also operate remotely or as freelancers, which provides them with more flexibility and freedom from geographical constraints.

In comparison, software developers are often employed by large corporations and government agencies. Their profession requires them to work closely with a team of computer programmers. Their work schedule may include long hours spent on-site with their development team and company management.

Compensation possibilities from career advancement for web development are more diverse. As such, web developers can work in fields such as web design or user interface design. Also, web developers can graduate to more advanced jobs such as Senior Web Developer as their experience improves.

Careers in web development are expected to expand by 13% between 2018 and 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On average, a Web Developer earns roughly $75,000, however, this figure varies significantly. In comparison, the average compensation for a Software Developer is $103,620. However, a Web Developer can easily freelance for multiple organizations concurrently, thus increasing their earning potential.

Software development vs web development - Core differences

As we have investigated the core correlation of two jobs and tried to compare their differences on the surface, now let’s try to uncover the detailed differences between two huge technologies.

  1. Architecture responsibilities - All of the software development processes that are being done for the workstation tasks are only focused on the back-end part and involve little to no front-end part whatsoever. On the other hand, web development is working on both n front-end and back-end development.
  2. Code Structure - The software development code is typically straightforward to comprehend. The coding of web development can consist of lots of things and may not necessarily include only a single programming language.
  3. Scripting - In the process of creating software applications, scripting is not a mandatory factor and may not be used, if there is no need for it. On the contrary, scripting is mostly used in web development to create applications.
  4. Platform - Applications for a specific platform are created during the software development process and are most strict. Web apps, on the other hand, have been designed for multiple platforms and are largely interactive pages in web development.
  5. Customization - The customization process is not used much in software development and has great disadvantages. Web applications have a wide variety of customization options and it is constantly encouraged to customize your web app frequently.
  6. Content - In software development, the content of the program is playing an informative role and doesn’t change very frequently or at all even. Websites, on the other hand, must always have new content refreshed on every page, as it affects the user conversion statistics.
  7. System - After the mounting process is done, all software applications can be utilized in the same workstation. A web application can be accessed from any platform and any device, as long as it has a direct Internet connection.
  8. Security Protocols - Most software development products do not require a heavy protection plan. All of the web apps require solid protection from any viruses or malware attacks, as they hold the personal and confidential information of the users.
  9. Hosting - Software applications do not need any hosting, as they are simply launched on the workstation’s operating system. A website, on the other hand, does need a hosting plan to be viewed on the internet.
  10. Performance - Software programs excel at simulation and database management in particular. But there are constraints on the use of innovative technologies. Web-based applications, on the other hand, are suitable for data centralized systems or multiuser systems.

In Conclusion

Even though software development and web development may seem so distant, they are employed in the process of application development. Software development is the process of creating desktop apps for any operating system. Web development, on the other hand, is the process of creating web-based applications. Both software development and web development have always relied on a common set of tools and web design principles to produce more dependable and efficient solutions.

The primary focus of software development is based on the logic of the constructed visual app rather than UI. The main focus of web development is to combine both the UI aspect with the backend part to maintain a consistent feeling of a website design and smooth features execution process.

Currently, web development is in market demand where Internet usage is expanding and resources are accessible on any devices (including mobile ones too), compared to the desktop applications that were a great hit back in the past. Pretty much anyone may effortlessly access and use web apps from anywhere around the globe. Most people are using different web applications for various needs and all of these websites have user-friendly layouts and tight security layers such as login validation and reliability.