“If your business is not on the Internet, then your business will go out of business,” Bill Gates said. Having an online presence in today’s digital era is a necessity. Digital dominance has made more people rely on the Internet to look up for products and services, so any businesses that fail to utilise online platforms bear the risk of losing new opportunities.
Building an online presence is essential, yet many entrepreneurs are still confused about where to go and what to do when they decide to build a website or software for their business – whether they should contact a professional website development company or a software development company. Many believe that website development and software development companies are under the same term and definition – but do you know that they serve different services?
In this article, we will discuss the main difference between website development and software development, their functions, and when to hire a web developer or software developer for your project.
The main difference: web development vs. software development
Understanding the difference between web and software development is of the essence, especially when you are looking to get an online solution to develop your business. Although most people interchange the meaning of these terms, web development is more focused on the process of developing a website for the Internet. Be it a single page layout with plain text or a complex multi-page website with high-end animations, graphics, or videos.
These days, there are many website builders with easy settings like drag-and-drop features to help everyone, particularly e-commerce owners, create their own website. Although website builder is helpful, to get a professional website look and functions, you should contact a web developer or get in touch with a web development company. The process of web development requires more than drag and drop features. It includes everything from web design to development to testing and deployment.
Meanwhile, software development is more about writing a series of code to create various computer software and applications in a specialised computer-coded programming language. For example, applications that you can download from Google Play Stores or App Stores go under software development terms. Only certain people, usually the IT team, can develop software as it requires specific skills such as coding and understanding of immense technical skills. Unless you have these abilities, you must contact a professional software development company to help you.
Deeper insights into website development and software development
As you understand the slight difference between web development and software development, let’s dive deeper into their functions and processes. If you aspire to be an expert in one of these roles, the following discussion will greatly help you.
1. The process of web development
As mentioned earlier, the process of web development starts from designing a website to testing and deployment. Generally, the whole process will be divided into two parts, namely front-end development and back-end development.
Front-end development, also known as client-side development, is a process where a web developer works on the front-end part of a website. What’s the front-end part? It is the portion that a user sees. Front-end development should really consider users in mind because it is where clients, customers, readers, or random website visitors see the first time. Having user-friendly and engaging front-end development helps connect your targeted audience better.
Back-end development or server-side development is the backbone of your website. This is where all the coding is done. While website users do not interact with the back-end, this part is equally important as it decides how your website will work and run well.
2. The skills and characteristics needed to be a web developer
If you are thinking about broadening your skills and being a professional web developer for your own business, here’s what you need to know about being a web developer. Firstly, you should understand that web developers are classified under three categories: front-end developer, back-end developer, and full-stack developer.
- The back-end developer is the one responsible for the back-end side of a website, such as coding and making a website functional. They work on building the whole infrastructure of your website and work on its scalability and robustness. Back-end skills include development languages, database and cache, server, API, and should understand the goals of a website and come up with effective solutions.
- The full-stack developer is someone who has complete knowledge and master skills of both back-end and front-end development.
You can either hire or master the skills of a web developer. If you choose to hire and want to get a complete website developed from scratch, it is advisable to hire a full-stack developer as it will save cost and time. One more thing to note is that, oftentimes, some developers will only master a certain coding language. Hence, if you want to get your website developed using PHP or CSS, you must hire either a PHP developer or a CSS developer. And if you are planning to use WordPress, then you must approach a WordPress developer.
1. The process of software development
Software development requires more processes compared to web development. Generally, the software development is known as Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) which consists of six main steps:
- Market research is done before you plan to get software developed. Software developers should do extensive market research and brainstorm all the possible opportunities to ascertain the product’s viability.
- Requirement analysis is analysing technical and user needs as well as drawing an outline to understand all other requirements needed to develop software.
- Software design is where things like architectural design, relevant components, front-end representation, and user flow of the software are determined.
- Development and implementation are where the coding of the software product should have been done.
- Testing is done to test the functionality of the software.
- Deployment and maintenance are the last processes of software development. Maintenance should be regularly conducted to check updates, malware, and other functionality that might need maintenance.
2. Software classifications
Software can be categorised as hardware-independent, thus it is classified into three major categories, including system software, application software, and programming software.
In short, system software is used to run hardware components like device OS, device drivers, utility software, etc. Application software is a custom software designed to accomplish a specific task like MS Word, Google Docs, etc. And programming software is used by programmers to write the codes needed to complete the software, such as Eclipse, Coda, Notepad++, etc.
3. The skills and characteristics needed to be a software developer
To be a high-performing software developer, you need the skills and characteristics of those web developers. However, there are some other skills you need to accomplish or develop, including full-stack knowledge, ability to learn and grow, understanding business acumen, time management, and interpersonal skills.
Software product is made of several layers that include front-end, back-end, server, hardware, network, and database. Therefore, an excellent software engineer should be knowledgeable about the functionality of each stack. A software developer should also have the ability to jump in and independently solve problems in any phase of an application. Having curiosity and a thirst for learning is what makes software developers successful.