Software Development vs Web Development: What Are the Differences?

Software Development vs Web Development

Quitting a job or changing careers is nothing new in the U.S., but Americans took it to new heights in 2021 with over 47 million people bowing out of their old jobs. For many, it was a decision to leave jobs that offered poor pay and advancement opportunities. Others decided it was time to switch tracks and follow a new career trajectory.

Coding is a popular option, but do you know the differences between software development vs web development? If you’re not sure, keep reading for a quick breakdown of the two and where they differ.  

What Is Software Development?

In essence, software development is a process with the end goal of creating a computer program, framework, or some kind of supporting element. The software development process has a number of steps:

  • Requirement analysis
  • Design
  • Development/coding
  • Testing
  • Implementation
  • Maintenance

There are also typically sub-steps that support this process. For example, most software development also includes documentation.

At the end of the development process, you typically get a task-specific application like accounting software, graphic design software, or a video game that can deploy on a desktop computer, mobile device, or in a cloud environment.

What Is Web Development?

Web development focuses on the creation and deployment of websites. The more recognizable aspect of web development is client-side development. That area of web development handles the coding that website visitors typically see.

The other area is server-side development. That area of web development handles the coding that manages interactions between the website and user and the servers that host websites.

For example, let’s say that you approach a web development company to build you a website. The client-side coder will do things like writing the Javascript that makes elements of the site interactive.

The server-side coder will write the code that lets the website, for example, access the customer database and let website visitors actually log in to the site.

Software Development Vs Web Development

Software development and web development share features, such as similar development processes. Yet, they differ in important ways as well.

Web development uses a fairly small and specific range of programming languages, such as:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript
  • Python
  • PHP
  • Ruby on Rails

Software development can happen in almost any programming language including C#, Perl, Java, Kotlin, R, and Go.

Web development focuses almost exclusively on websites. Software development focuses on purpose-specific applications, but it isn’t confined to specific industries or even specific operating systems.

Software Development, Web Development, and You

For many, the software development vs web development question is really a debate about how to enter a new industry. Which path provides the best compensation or which path offers the lowest bar to entry?

In those terms, web development is generally considered the easier path in terms of learning and finding a job. For example, many companies have no education requirements for web developers. The tradeoff there is that software developers typically make more money.

Looking for more insight into web development or software development? Check out the posts in our Technology section.