Web Development vs Software Development: 8 Key Differences Every Beginner Needs to Know

Web development vs software development remains one of the most controversial topics in the IT sector. From job opportunities to task overview, each has specific principles and requirements.

There is no doubt you can never go wrong with any of these professions. As more businesses lean on technology, the demand for web developers and software engineers grows higher every year. Take note, however, that both fields require extensive knowledge and experience to ensure success.

Software development and web development may have some fundamental similarities. As an aspiring IT professional, you should familiarize yourself with their key differentiators. In this post, we will discuss the key differences between web and software development.

What is Web Development?

As the name implies, web development focuses on building a digital platform. Here, a developer needs to analyze and implement a data-driven website strategy. This includes design, usability, functionalities, and other features.

The Web Development Life Cycle involves several steps, including:

What is Web Development Web Development vs Software development | Laneways.Agency

Unlike software development, web developers don’t require vast programming skills to write complex codes.

What is Software Development?

In software development, you focus more on creating applications with specific features or attributes. 

Here, a software developer brainstorm ideas, research its viability, develop the product, and document it. 

As more people use the product, developers may need to improve and maintain it based on real users’ feedback.

The following are common steps that constitute a Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC):

What is Software Development Web Development vs Software development | Laneways.Agency

The outcome from this process is usually a desktop application that will help users interact with the computer tools and carry out specific activities.

A successful software development project needs the engineering team to have vast programming and coding knowledge

Therefore, a solid understanding of several interrelated programming languages and methodologies is crucial.

8 Key Differences between Web Development and Software Development

While the two professions seem to have some common similarities, they differ in several aspects. Let us see some of these main differences:

Aspect Web Development Software Development

Career Paths

Career Paths Web Development vs Software development | Laneways.Agency

When it comes to being a web developer vs software developer, the extent of learning matters.

Becoming a software developer generally needs more extensive career studies. In most cases, you will need to complete at least a four-year bachelor’s degree in Computer Science

The coursework should cover not only coding but also fundamentals of computing, programming languages, and computer architecture, among other advanced learning modules. 

You also need to do an internship or volunteer in a busy work environment that will enable you to build experience and network.

On the contrary, it is much simpler to become a web developer. While many developers decide to take formal academic lessons, the reality is that understanding web development doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree. 

You can attend a coding boot camp that allows you to learn full-stack skills in a highly immersive environment. Learning takes a much shorter duration and saves a lot of money.

We build custom software with modern solutions in mind for any business and sizes!

We build custom software with modern solutions in mind for any business and sizes!


A software application is a client-based only. It means the applications run on a personal computer or work station but are unavailable to other devices in the same network

The software engineer focuses on every element that the users can directly access on the screen. Therefore, the users can command the web-page to do a specific action.

When it comes to web development, the application is client-server based. It is a distributed system made up of the back-end server and front-end client systems. The front-end system communicates with the server software on the same computer or over a network

When a user prompts action on the web-page, the back-end scripting fulfills that command. Full-stack developers can develop both back-end and front-end systems.


In Software Development, the design is generally straightforward and simple. Software developers don’t need to know much about graphic design.

When it comes to Web development, the design tends to be more advanced. Here, you may need a significant investment in graphic design skills to create a more appealing and user-friendly application.


Content Web Development vs Software development | Laneways.Agency

Software developers usually develop apps with static content. Therefore, the HTML, images, and other files in the system deliver the same content whenever the users access it.

On the other hand, web developers can develop a website using both static and dynamic content. The dynamic content can change based on the time, location, device, or any other factor that is specific to the user. This feature allows users to enjoy a personalized and interactive experience.


Software developers don’t require a host for their software application, as the files can be stored on their computers. Therefore, you’ll save the expenses that come with hosting.

Web development birth applications that require a hosting provider that will store the files and make them available to other users in the network. The files and content can then be accessible to users via the internet or intranet.


In most cases, software applications are robust; they don’t break down easily, even during unusual conditions. They possess a vast amount of capabilities and can recover from an error quickly.

On the other hand, web developers create applications that are mostly not much robust. These products may perform dismally or break down easily due to unexpected conditions, such as a spike in traffic, a brute force attack, and low internet speed.


You can only use software developed applications on a machine in which you installed it. If you need to use it on other computers, you’ll have to install the application separately on each device. Therefore, maintaining and updating these applications is cumbersome.

With the web application, users can switch from one device to another instantly since it is deployed to a server. It is accessible from any device via its domain address so long as there is an internet connection. This cross-platform ability also makes it easier to maintain and update the application.

Internet and Bandwidth

Desktop-based software applications are standalone and don’t depend on the internet. Therefore, the users’ don’t experience hindrances that come with poor internet connectivity. Additionally, you don’t spend money on purchasing more bandwidth to serve your users.

Web applications are internet-dependent. They require enough internet connectivity, speed, and bandwidth to avoid performance issues.


Our discussion on web development vs software development has revealed that both share some fundamental aspects, especially in the development life cycle. However, the two differ in terms of career paths and their applications’ requirements and use.

If you’re looking to create unique websites and start earning as soon as possible, we suggest you focus your learning to become a web developer. For those eager to develop professional software applications, extensive programming studies will prepare you to be a go-to software engineer.

So, which career path can be a great fit for you? Drop us a comment now.

Frequently Asked Questions!

#1 How does a computer programmer differ from a software developer?

Computer programmers focus on writing computer codes and subjecting them through various tests.

On the other hand, software developers design programs and then hand over specific instructions to computer programmers. However, some software developers can also write their codes.

#2 What is a software programmer?

A software programmer writes programs for mobile applications and computer programs. Additionally, they participate in debugging, maintaining, and identifying issues in software and systems to ensure that the program is operating smoothly.

#3 What is web programming?

Programming is a process of coding, organizing, and formatting the content of a website to ensure that the website runs smoothly. It involves the non-design aspects of the web application.

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Jerome Rault

Cloud-based technology advisor, consultant, and investor. CEO Laneways Software & Digital

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