Many people use the terms web development and software development interchangeably. However, this is incorrect, and they are two different services.
If your organization is interested in building a digital product, business leaders must hire the right development team. While there are similarities between web developers and software developers, developers who specialize in one discipline might not excel at the other.
Therefore, it is vital to understand your organizational goals and what type of product will be the most successful for your business.
Many organizations have a website and an application or custom enterprise software, and it is possible to find development teams that can build web and software products.
The critical thing is to understand what each development service is and what type of business assets your organization will benefit from most.
Not only will this post explore the differences between web and software development, but at the same time, we will also explore the differences between web developers and software developers.
Exploring the Differences Between Web Development and Software Development
While software developers and web developers share some common computer programming tasks and write code, they are different disciplines.
It is essential to understand what each of these development disciplines entails before we examine the nuanced differences between them.
What Is Web Development?
Web development is the process of creating websites or web-based applications. A web development project includes design, client/server-side scripting, database scripting, network security, back-end development tasks, and content development.
Web developers handle all the tasks required to keep a website functioning properly, including building a website or web app and managing it. Web developers tend to fall under several job titles, web developers, full-stack developers, UI designers, and back-end/front-end developers.
There is a wide range of technical skills a web developer must possess. A web developer will not only build web-based software and maintain websites but also handle web design with a focus on User Interface design.
The web development field is constantly evolving, so a web developer must work to stay on top of the latest trends if they want to build new web apps and continually improve their tech career.
What Is Software Development?
Software development is the process of creating a program using a specific programming language. A software developer writes code to provide the functionality to the software.
Software development can refer to mobile app development or desktop app development. These programs must be installed onto a device and must be compatible with the device’s operating system.
Software developers and software engineers both work on these development projects. A software engineer has the same skills a software developer possesses. Still, software engineers handle big-picture tasks such as system design, while a software developer handles the actual coding tasks.
There are several specialized positions in software development, depending on the type of project being developed. For example, there are software developers that specialize in only iOS or Android app development.
There are many different types of software that could be developed, and there are many popular programming languages that are used.
Typically, each specialty has a dedicated software developer. Although, it is not uncommon for software developers to have multiple specializations, such as Swift and Kotlin.
The Differences Between Web Developers and Software Developers
Now that we have a better understanding of what each development discipline entails, let’s take a closer look at the specific ways these development roles differ. The primary differences between web developers and software developers include the following:
- Programming languages
Web developers build products for the Internet, and software developers build products for a specific platform. For example, any computer, tablet, or smartphone can access a website or web application.
On the other hand, an iOS application can only be used on Apple devices, an Android application on Android devices, and so on. It is possible to build cross-platform applications, but this requires software developers to use specific frameworks and special development tools.
As a result, before a software developer begins a project, the target platform must be carefully considered. For example, if your business wants to build a mobile application, it should determine whether it wants to build a native iOS app, native Android app, or cross-platform product.
The platform doesn’t only apply to mobile apps. Your organization must consider the platform if it wants to build a desktop application. The three leading desktop platforms are Windows, macOS, and Linux.
Unless you build a cross-platform solution, you must choose which platform makes the most sense to develop your desktop software.
There are many popular programming languages with different strengths, weaknesses, and uses. However, most web development projects use the same languages, while software development is subject to more variety.
Software is built using languages specific to particular operating systems and mobile platforms. A software developer will not be proficient in every language. As a result, your organization needs to find software developers specializing in the languages most relevant to its project.
For example, a native iOS app is built using Swift, while a native Android app is built using Kotlin or Java. Coding languages like Rust, Java, Lua, Ada, C++, and many others have specific use cases.
When comparing a web developer vs. software developer, there is a greater variety of software developers due to all of the different languages used to develop software.
Web development always requires hosting, while software development does not always require hosting. However, since all web products are accessed via the Internet, they must be hosted somewhere.
Hosting is another facet of web development that needs to be considered. While it is true that, in some cases, the software might be hosted, it is not a necessity for every software development project.
A web developer should understand the ins and outs of hosting their products, but a software developer won’t necessarily need to know this information.
Web development involves client and server-side architecture, while software development only involves client-side architecture.
This difference does not mean that web development is more complex than software development or vice-versa, but it is an essential difference between the two that should be considered.
Web developers sometimes specialize in front-end or back-end development. Of course, a well-rounded web developer will be familiar with both aspects of development, but you shouldn’t assume every web developer will.
A software developer only has to focus on the client side of development.
Every organization should make security a priority no matter what type of product they intend to develop. That being said, there are more security concerns involved with web development than software development.
Websites and web applications exist on the Internet in the public domain. As a result, they are more exposed to cyberattacks, malware, viruses, etc. However, this doesn’t mean that security should not be given importance in software development projects.
Security needs to be a priority no matter what type of product your organization is developing. However, due to being publicly available on the Internet, web products are more exposed to malicious actors than software products.
Web development and software development have commonalities but are also very different. Therefore, it is crucial to understand what each term refers to so your organization can look for the right development talent and formulate a realistic development plan.
If you want to learn more about the specifics of the web development vs. software development conversation, reach out to an experienced app development partner like Koombea.