Web Development vs Software Development: The Key Differences You Need to Know

Aug 16, 2022 | Agency | 0 comments

A common misconception that many people have is that web development and software development are one and the same. However, web development and software development are actually two entirely different things, which require two entirely different skill sets.

In this article, we are going to be looking at seven of the key differences between web development and software development.

1.   They are performed by two entirely different professionals.

Web development is performed by website developers. Web developers are skilled and experienced professionals who specialise in building websites from the ground up. They may also help to develop other web-based applications that are accessed from a web browser.

Some developers will specialise in certain aspects of development. For example, front-end development professionals specialise in the client-side elements (that is, those directly related to the user experience). That means things like the user interface, layout, web design, content management, interactivity, and mobile responsiveness.

By contrast, back-end web developers have a different skillset, and deal with hosting, web applications, and databases. Other developers deal in both front-end and back-end development. These are known as full stack web developers.

Software development is performed by a different set of professionals. These professionals are known as software developers (also sometimes referred to as software engineers). Software developers or engineers specialise in the development of software programs and applications that carry out a specific function.

As with web developers, software developers may also specialise in front end, back end, or full stack development. They may also specialise in a certain type of software development, such as web, desktop, database, mobile, cloud, or security development.

Generally speaking, these software applications will be installed directly onto a computer, smartphone, or other device (such as a tablet or smart TV). This differentiates them from web applications, which are web-based and accessed from within the browser.

2.   They use two different programming languages.

Both web developers and software developers are highly trained in computer science, computer programming, and writing code. However, the programming languages that they use to write this code can differ substantially.

Web developers typically use programming languages like HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, and Ruby. By comparison, when it comes to software application development, software developers will use programming languages like Java and C++.

It is worth noting that some programming languages can be used for both web development and software development. Python is one example of such a language.

3.   They are designed for different platforms.

Web developers create applications that are designed to work across all web browsers – whether the user accesses the website from Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

Web developers also design these webpages for mobile, meaning that they will display as well on mobile devices as they do on desktop ones. This is especially important, given that more than half of all visits to websites come from mobile devices.

By comparison, software developers design applications with specific operating systems in mind. For example, they might design for Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, or iOS. The operating system that they design for will depend on their target user, as well as the type of device their application will be accessed from (i.e. whether it is designed for desktop access, mobile access, or both).

4.  Web development is typically designed to appeal to a broader audience, whereas software development is usually tailored to the more specific needs of a certain type of user or business.

Generally speaking, websites are designed so that information and content about a particular topic can be accessed by a broad audience. As a result, web developers will design websites and web-based applications so that they are easy to use, regardless of skill level and ability.

By comparison, softwares are usually designed for a certain purpose, or to perform a specific function. This means that software developers typically develop software applications that are more tailored to the skill level and abilities of their target user group.

For example, if they were designing a software for business professionals in a particular industry, they would create the software based on the level of skill and technical aptitude that would be reasonably expected of this user group.

5.   They prioritise different features.

As we touched on in the last point, web developers will typically design websites and other web-based applications to ensure that they are as easy to use and navigate as possible. This ensures that they are able to be easily accessed by a variety of different web users, regardless of their skill and level of ability when it comes to computers and browsing the web.

Generally speaking, useability, ease of use, and simple navigation will be key features of all websites and web-based applications. These will be prioritised by web developers, so that these webpages can be navigated as easily by someone with very basic computer skills as they could be by someone with more advanced computer skills.

By comparison, software developers typically design software programs and packages to meet the specific needs of a certain type of business or user group. Because of this, they will prioritise things like the objectives, goals, and required features of that business or user group.

6.   They require different skillsets.

Web developers and software developers will also have different skills.

The skillset of web developers can vary, depending on whether they specialise in front-end, back-end, or full-stack development. Generally speaking though, web developers will have a highly specialised skillset, with proficiency in coding, markup and programming languages, and content frameworks. They will also have good logical and analytical thinking skills, and proficiency in testing, debugging, and problem solving.

Often, web developers have the opportunity to be more creative in their work, which is another feature that distinguishes them from software developers.

Like web developers, software developers will possess proficiency in things like programming languages, data structures, algorithms, and coding. They will also have good analytical, critical thinking, and problem solving skills.

However, their technical knowledge and skillset will usually be more diverse, whereas that of web developers have be more focused on their chosen specialisation.

7.   Web developers and software developers have somewhat different career outlooks.

Software development professionals can typically command a much higher salary than web development professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a web developer is around $75k, whereas the average salary for a software developer is $103k.

However, very strong future growth is projected for both professions. However, this is still higher for software developers than it is for web developers. Demand for web developers is expected to increase by 13% by 2028, compared to 22% by 2030 for software developers.

Despite this, the growth rates for both types of developers are significantly higher than the average 8% growth rate projected for a lot of other professions over the next eight years.

At Tomedia, our professionals are skilled in both web development and software development. To find out more about the services offered by our experienced web and software development team, click here.


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