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App Development
6 minutes read

Web Developer Vs. Software Developer: Understanding the Differences 

By Jose Gomez
By Jose Gomez
App Development
6 minutes read

Do you understand the difference between a web developer vs. software developer? Your organization needs to understand the differences between these two types of development professionals so that you hire the right person or team for your development project. 

People often use terms like web developer and software engineer interchangeably because they don’t understand how web development differs from software development.

This post will explore the differences between web developers and software developers. Along the way, we will also understand how web development differs from software development. 

Web Developers and Software Developers: How Do They Differ?

Many people think that web developers and software developers are the same things. However, this is not the case.

Yes, they both use programming languages to create digital products, but the projects they build and the languages they use are very different.

For example, web development focuses on building Internet products using web technologies, while software development is broader and typically refers to building digital products that must be downloaded and installed.

To understand these differences between web development and software development more completely, it is helpful to define each role in more detail. 

What Is a Web Developer

Web developers build web apps and websites. These web development projects range from simple text-based websites to complex interactive web apps.

Web developers use programming languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These languages are the core web technologies, and almost every website, web app, and web development project are built using them.

In addition to client-facing aspects like web design, web developers must also handle hosting on the Internet or an Intranet system. There are also server-side or backend tasks that need to be addressed. Server-side coding is responsible for fulfilling the web requests users make. 

Some web developers only focus on frontend web development, while others solely do backend web development. The web developers who do both are called full-stack developers. 

What Is a Software Developer

Software developers create complex applications for computers, mobile devices, smartwatches, and other devices. While a web developer typically uses the core web technologies for their web development projects, a software developer, or software engineer, might use any number of different languages.

Because many applications are built for specific operating systems with their own native languages, software developers generally specialize in one or two programming languages. 

For example, if you want to build a native iOS app, the best programming language to use is Swift, and if you want to build a native Android app, the language is Kotlin.

There are several programming languages used in software development, including PHP, Python, Java, C++, and Rust, to name just a few. 

In some cases, such as hybrid app development, a software developer will use the core web technologies and a web development framework to create a mobile application. 

However, since software engineers tend to specialize in certain project types if your organization has specific development goals, it is imperative to find software engineers that excel in your chosen project.

For example, if you want to build a sophisticated Machine Learning algorithm, you will need to look for software engineers specializing in Python. 

Software development is typically a little more complex than web development on average. As a result, software development projects usually take longer to complete than web development projects.

Do I Need a Web Developer or a Software Developer

Trying to figure out if your organization needs to hire a web developer or a software developer? An easy way to determine which type of developer is best for your project is to think about how users will access your product

If users access your product through the Internet or an organizational Intranet, you should hire a web developer. However, you should hire a software developer if users have to download and install your product on their phones, computer, etc. 

Is there some overlap between these two development disciplines? Yes, both write code. However, it is best to hire a developer or team that actively focuses on the type of project you want to build.

For example, most software developers probably have a decent grasp of the core web technologies because many developers get started learning these programming languages. 

However, just because a software developer has a good grasp of the core web technologies doesn’t mean they will be effective at handling the intricacies associated with frontend and backend web development.

On the other hand, a web developer likely has a decent grasp of mobile design because a web developer will have to build mobile websites. However, web development is much different than mobile app development, and web developers won’t be as skilled as software engineers when it comes to building mobile apps.

Before you hire any type of software or web developer, you should review some of their recent projects and look at projects they have built that are similar to yours. 

Software Developers Vs. Web Developers: Which One Is More Expensive to Hire? 

If you decide to hire a skilled development team to build your project, you will be charged based on the requirements and complexities of your project.

However, if your organization is interested in hiring a software or web developer, you might be interested in how much it typically costs to hire them. 

On average, software developers earn more than web developers, so they are likely to be more expensive to hire. However, experience, demand, and other market factors will also play a role too.

For example, a highly skilled web developer with a lot of industry experience and a large portfolio of projects will command a higher salary than an entry-level software developer. 

Typically, software developers have a bachelor’s degree in computer science. As a result, they tend to cost more. Web developers tend to have been coding boot camp graduates or self-taught.

However, while coding boot camps are not the same as a college degree in computer science, they are effective, and most employers discover that these employees are skilled in their own right. 

At the end of the day, software development and web development are great fields because they come down to skill. We can discuss degrees and boot camps, but these are just methods of learning.

Developers that can demonstrate a high degree of technical skill will always find work and be well compensated regardless of their formal education. 

Final Thoughts 

The terms software developers and web developers are often erroneously used interchangeably. If your organization wants to hire the best people to join its team or find the best development team to build its project, it is important to understand the differences between these terms. 

Software developers build applications that must be downloaded and installed, and web developers build websites and web apps that are accessed via the Internet. If you want to learn more about how a web developer vs. software developer compares, reach out to an experienced app development partner.

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