Web Development Vs Software Development: Know the 7 Common Differences

  • Is web development different from software development?
  • Does software development pay more?
  • Is a web developer’s job easier?


When you are looking to build a career in the tech industry, these are some questions that are in your mind. There are so many job profiles ranging from developers, engineers, designers, scientists, and analysts that anyone can get confused. 

In this blog, we compare Web Development vs Software Development, with the aim to clear all doubts between them.

From roles, responsibilities, and different types to salary, and skills required, we cover everything to help you decide your ideal career.

Web Development vs Software Development – Head to Head Comparison

Let’s have a quick look at the differences between web development and software development before we look into each topic in detail.

Web Development Software Development
Definition Web development is the coding of web-hosted solutions like websites and web applications. Web development is a type of software development. Software development involves developing software that works on various platforms. In addition, it also includes system software for operating systems, data security, and hardware management.
Languages Uses scripting and markup languages to code browsers along with programming languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript Has no requirement for scripting languages. Uses high-level and low-level programming languages like C, C++, Python, Java
Types There are two types of web development – frontend and backend There are many types of software development. With the evolution of technology, new branches are created
Hosting Web-based software has to be hosted on servers Software apps may or may not require hosting
Platform Websites and web apps are executed on different browsers like Chrome, Edge, Opera ..etc Softwares are executed on multiple platforms like a desktop application, smart TV app, tablets, mobiles and also web-based applications
Compatibility Require cross-browser support They have to be compatible with different OS such as iOS, Linux, Windows..etc
Thinking Skills Requires creative thinking to implement new web design and create unique features. The computer programming involved requires more logical and analytical thinking. Computer software has to be more efficient than creative

What is Web Development?

Web development involves developing engaging websites and easy-to-use web applications. As the name suggests, it is the development of web-based programs that you can access through any web browser.
 
Web development is a type of software development that involves hosting applications on the web. Web development includes writing computer programs, web design, managing databases, and hosting on web servers.

Let’s look at the types of web development to further understand web development.

Types of Web Development

Types of Web Development
  1. Front-end Development

    Client-side development is everything the user sees and interacts with on a website. 

    Front-end development involves designing the user interfaces of websites including all the elements that the users access on a website like images, buttons, menu, and links. 

    It is also the job of the front-end developer to create user interactions, like what will happen if the user double-clicks this button, or you hover on the video. 

    Frontend developers use programming languages and markup tools for creating visually attractive web pages.

  2. Back-end Development

    The server-side development is what happens behind a website. When the user double-clicks on the text, the backend retrieves the required data. 

    While the backend fulfills the user requests, the frontend ensures the information is provided in the right way to the user. 

    A back-end developer has to use data management systems, server hosting tools, and programming languages, and some back-end frameworks to make the web page function.

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What is Software Development?

Software development is the process of developing computer systems. It includes the ideation, design, coding, documentation, error testing, and debugging of a computer application or system. 

Software development is any computer system or program that enables a connection between the device and user. It can be-

  • OS like Windows
  • Code editor like Eclipse
  • Mobile game like PubG
  • Software utility like screen saver
  • Computer drivers
  • Software like MS Office

There are mainly two divisions of software development – application software(apps for users) and system software(for running a system).

With the evolution of computer technology, there are now many different types of software.

Type of Software Development

Types of Software Development

Let’s have a look at the 8 main types of software development today.

  1. Application Development

    Application development involves designing applications for a particular task like scheduling jobs, video calling, writing and editing, or even a game. 

    Apps can be hosted on various platforms such as web browsers, desktops, mobiles, TVs and other smart devices. 

    Applications are generally developed for an end-user and therefore user-friendliness is an important aspect for application software developers.

  2. System Softwares

    System software is the development of software at the system level such as operating systems, disk management, services, and hardware management.

    It is designing system applications that are required for operating hardware and managing the system itself. 

    Generally written in a low-level language(machine language), the system software is required for running other apps and does not require much interaction from a user.

  3. Web Development

    Web development, as explained above, is one of the most popular fields of software development today owing to the migration of businesses online. 

    It involves developing websites and web applications that are hosted on a server and can be accessed through an internet connection and a web browser.

  4. Cloud Computing

    Cloud development is the creation and management of cloud storage and its related services and applications.

    Dropbox or Google Drive are popular cloud storage services that let users store their data on the cloud( on the internet). 

    It is an extremely useful field of engineering as it ensures that memory consumption on electronic devices is kept to a minimum. These can be accessed from any web browser without requiring any physical device storage.

  5. Security Engineering

    Security engineering development or hacking is a growing field of software development. Especially with the increase in concerns with user privacy, there is a high demand for security engineers. 

    They perform tests and find loopholes in security to protect the software from actual hackers and malicious users.

  6. Mobile Development

    Mobile development is the process of developing applications specifically for mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches.
     
    With expertise in either Android or iOS, mobile developers work on designing games, social media apps, photo, and video editing tools and other apps that are easy-to-use, require minimal navigation and are engaging.

  7. Embedded Systems

    This field of software development deals with writing code for hardware and non-computer devices. Engineers embed software into a device like a microwave, digital watch, or more complex like image processing medical equipment or airplanes.    

    With the evolution of the “Internet of Things”, embedded system development is seeing massive improvements. A simple example is a smart refrigerator that regulates the temperature according to what’s inside it.

  8. API Development

    APIs are software programs that are extensible. Putting together the right APIs, you can have a fully functioning application. 

    Generally, software developers code single features like a payment gateway or searching a database into an Application Program Interface(API) which can be integrated with any application.

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Web Developer Vs Software Developer

Now that we know the differences between software and web development, let’s look at the difference in a career as a web developer and software developer.

  1. Roles and Responsibilities

    Some responsibilities of software developers are- 

    • Developing software solutions as per client’s requirements 
    • Developing algorithms and coding the application logic 
    • Understanding project scope and choosing technologies and tools
    • Recommending software updates to improve existing systems
    • Strong documentation skills for new software applications
    • Developing and conducting new tests for each individual software program
    • Creating and updating databases 

    Responsibilities of web developers include – 

    • Convert wireframes and designs into a working user interface for the website or web application
    • Code application logic, manage databases and servers using web frameworks 
    • Create cross-platform web apps with responsive designs 
    • Test the websites and remove errors
    • Update existing websites with new features 
    • Working with content management systems, code editors and other web development tools 
    • Collaborate with client and team members
  2. Key Skills

    When we consider web developers vs software developers, the main point of difference is the minimum skills required to get a job. Software developers require more technical knowledge and experience in a large number of topics. 

    In contrast, web developers require more focused programming skills in selected technologies- depending on whether you are a frontend developer, backend developer or full-stack developer. 

    In fact, companies are hiring web developers with just an associate degree, or a coding bootcamp certificate too. But you will need a bachelor’s degree to be even considered for an entry-level position in the software development field.

    Let’s look at some of the key technical skills required as a software developer are – 

    • Mastery in programming concepts
    • Various programming languages like C, C++, Java, Python 
    • Data structures and database management systems 
    • A bachelor’s degree in engineering/computer science/ maths/science
    • Algorithms 
    • Knowledge of source control systems like GitHub, SVN or Mercurial  
    • Working with IDEs and code editors
    • Test-driven development for writing code to create tests 
    • Programming and documentation standards
    • Writing clean, efficient code that is readable  
    • Deployment of software using Jenkins, Hudson…etc
    • Knowledge of software development cycles and methodologies

    Apart from the technical coding skills, it is also necessary for developers to have strong communication skills, analytical thinking capabilities, problem-solving, mathematical acumen, and collaboration. 

    Some skills you need to become a successful web developer- 

    • Knowledge of markup languages – HTML and  CSS for building layout 
    • JavaScript and JavaScript libraries and frameworks for dynamic content  
    • Programing languages such as Ruby, PHP or Python
    • Version control for keeping track of your code
    • Debugging and testing 

    Web developers also require communication skills and strong logical thinking. You should know how to work in a team and brainstorm solutions for your clients.

    It is also important to have the excitement for learning new frameworks and technologies regularly because the web development field is continuously evolving.

  3. Salary

    If you are interested in a career in the IT industry, one of the main concerns is pay. Which job profile earns more? 

    The salaries of web developers and software developers vary a lot depending on the profile, location, and company.
     
    In Canada, the average salary of software developers is $75,379 annually. Web developers earn $66,791 yearly on average.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a software engineer earn more than web developers?

Yes, in most companies software engineers have a higher pay scale compared to web developers. The skills required for a software developer profile are higher and their education takes longer than web developers. Many companies require a Master’s degree in IT or software/computer engineering for a software developer position.

Which is a better career – web or software development?

No field is superior. It depends on the kind of skills you have and the work you would like to do. As a web developer, you will have multiple projects with varying requirements. As a software developer, you will work on a single project for 2-3 years constantly improving it. Consider pay scale, your skills, the requirements of the profile to decide which is a better career for you.

Are software developers and software engineers the same?

No. Software engineers apply software engineering concepts to develop system tools like IDEs, code editors, frameworks. Software developers use these tools to develop software. Both require similar skills but software developers work on writing programs while engineers are involved throughout the software development lifecycle.


Conclusion

We have covered the key differences between software development and web development in this blog. Now that you have a clear idea about the roles and requirements of both fields, you will know which you prefer for your tech career.

Still unsure which you prefer?
 
Learn a few basic concepts of both. See which is more suited for your talents and interests. For a clear understanding of what a web developer does and how to become one, check out the blog – 5 steps to become a web developer.

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Author Bio
Jigar Mistry
Jigar Mistry
Designation: Founder - Monocubed

Jigar Mistry is the Founder of Monocubed and is the main curator and writer of the content found on this site. He has 14+ years of experience in the information technology industry. He always believes in quality, in terms of code and application.