Web Developer vs Software Developer: Key Differences

Want to start your career but not sure which is an ideal role for you?

Are you confused about whether you should become a software developer or a web developer?

We understand you don’t want to make even a slight mistake when it comes to pursuing the best career for yourself.

To help find the best career option for you, we have crafted this complete guide that throws light on defining web developer vs software developer.

However, if you are particularly interested in the software domain, understanding how to become a software developer is more important which allows you to make a proper decision for your career while choosing between web developer and software developer.

Let’s get started.

Quick Comparison Between Web Developer vs Software Developer

There are certain factors that classify a web developer and a software developer. In this section, we will discuss the top differences between both developers. This comparison table will help you resolve some of your confusion related to web development and software development. Let’s find out the key differences.

FactorWeb DeveloperSoftware Developer
RoleWeb development is related to the ability to develop only websites and web applications.Software developers have the ability to develop any kind of software that is required by a company or a client.
ArchitectureA web developer creates and works with the development of client-server architectures.A software engineer focuses on developing solutions for clients by working on client-based systems.
Programming LanguageHTML, CSS, JavaScript, ReactSoftware engineering languages include C++, C#, Java, Python, Golang
HostingA website or web application is required to be hosted via the internet or intranet.You may or may not require to host software.
PlatformWeb developers build web applications and websites that are compatible across a spectrum of web browsers.Software developers ensure their solutions work seamlessly and are compatible across different operating systems.
Easy to LearnIt is easy to get started with web development as the web development tools and techniques are not much complex to learn.Compared to web development, it is a little challenging to get an in-depth understanding of software development as it requires you to learn different tools and methodologies to build good quality software.

After discussing the major comparison between both professional types, now it is time to dive deeper to find what exactly a developer is, their work roles and responsibilities, and what it requires to become a developer. Let’s find out answers to all these questions.

Who is a Web Developer?

To put it simply, a web developer is responsible for building and maintaining interactive websites and web apps from scratch, such as developing a user interface, functionality, and front-end & back-end work.

Web developers need to be proficient in various programming languages, such as JavaScript, CSS, and HTML for web development. Also, they should have an understanding of how web servers operate.

If this seems interesting to you, then you must want to know how you can become a web developer. Therefore, we are going to discuss some easy ways to help you become a website developer.

How to Become a Web Developer

Formal education is not always enough when you are pursuing something which has the potential to bring revolution to the web industry. So, if you are interested in being a web developer, here are the steps that you need to take.

  1. Build Web Developer Skills

  2. Sometimes, your clients will expect you to have some kinds of skills, which can be technical skills as well as workplace skills, to know that you have the ability to deliver the best web development services.

    Technical SkillsNon-technical Skills
    Coding: The developer must have a firm grasp of coding languages like HTML, PHP, CSS, JavaScript, Python, and Ruby.Communication: Web developers should have good command over communication skills to talk to clients and understand their expectations.
    Responsive & Visual Design: Must have an understanding of basic user interface design principles to create sites that look good on both computers as well as on smartphones.Detail-oriented: The developer should be vigilant enough to find a small mistake in the coding to avoid performance-related challenges in the future.
    Version Control: Have proficiency in tracking and controlling changes to the source code without starting from the beginning.Problem-solving Attitude: Web developers must know how to resolve the problem that occurs during the web development process.
    Technical SEO: To rank your website in the search engine ranking, you must understand how search engines rank sites work.Approach: The developer should keep track of the deadlines, project tasks, workflow, and budget to offer the best web development services.
  3. Have a Computer Science Degree

  4. Even if it is not enough, having a degree can certainly help. If you are already in your school and looking to get a degree to become a web developer, opt for a degree program in computer science. Or, if you are more interested in front-end development, you might also get a degree in web designing or user experience.

  5. Take a Web Development Course

  6. You also have an option to enroll in a web development course. With such courses, you acquire the skills you need to become a web developer.

    For example, you can take paid or free courses on learning coding languages like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS or learn the basics of web development to put your learning into practice to build websites or web apps.

  7. Build a Portfolio or Your Web Development Work

  8. If you have started to develop websites for clients or your projects, you must begin maintaining your portfolio. Your collection of projects will help potential clients to know that you are capable of developing various types of websites for different industries. After developing a portfolio, you can apply in a leading web development company to build your career.

  9. Get Certified & Apply for a Job

  10. Earning certifications will help potential clients to validate your skill sets. For this, you will find a range of options, such as Adobe Certified Expert (ACE), Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSD), Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Developer, or Zend Certified PHP Engineer.

    If you have considered all the steps, then you are ready to apply for a web developer profile. In case you want to know what your job responsibilities are, then check the next section that talks about web developers’ roles and responsibilities.

What are the Roles & Responsibilities of a Web Developer?

Here are some of the responsibilities executed by a web developer to build quality websites and web apps.

  • Web developers start the project by coordinating with the clients and the team to create web designs
  • The developer creates the internal structure of the website to make it functional
  • Using web development tools, the developer design and test the functionality of the websites
  • Use various web development programming languages like HTML, CSS, or JavaScript to write code that is clear and clean
  • Integrate a variety of content types, including images, audio, and video in the websites using various methodologies and CMS platforms like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal
  • Assist the technical team in deploying websites
  • Ensure the website performance and keep track of website traffic and insights using a variety of tools

Now, this is the time to learn who is a software developer, what they actually do, and how you can become a software developer. Let’s find all the answers below.

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Who is a Software Developer?

Software developers are responsible for developing any kind of technical product which runs across different types of computers, mobile devices, or hardware. A software developer discovers, conceptualizes, develops, tests, deploys, and upgrades software and its components.

Software solutions like Photoshop run on desktop applications, Instagram runs on mobile phones, and Facebook runs on web browsers.

To build software solutions, software developers use specific technologies and programming languages, such as Python, Java, C++, and PHP. With an intention to improve the business efficiency and enhance the productivity of employees and the overall work process. If you want to know about how custom software is developed, here is a complete guide about the process of custom software development.

If you are clear with this information, now you must be curious to find out how quickly you can become a software developer. Is it so? Find your answer in the next section.

How to Become a Software Developer

To become a software developer, it is essential that you follow a step-by-step approach. However, if you are confused between a full-stack web developer and a software engineer, here is a complete guide on full-stack developer vs software engineer. Firstly, you need to start with the basics of software development. To do this, you can either choose to get a formal degree or opt for software development courses. Let’s check how you can do it.

  1. Pursue a Degree or Take Courses

  2. More than 65% of the developers hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Definitely, holding a degree opens more job opportunities for you. However, it is not always required to get a degree to find a job in software development.

    Therefore, choose the best option that best suits you to go ahead in your software development career.

  3. Learn the Basics of Programming Language

  4. Most software developers have a solid foundation in these 4 languages: Java, Python, C++, and Scala.

    If you are a beginner, here are some of the best tips for you to learn programming.

    • Choose any language and understand the basic fundamentals concepts
    • Learn data structure and algorithms
    • Learn how a programming language works
    • Practice some command-line basics and build projects
    • Move to the next programming language
  5. Build Your Software Development Skills

  6. To be one of the best software developers, it is essential that you build technical as well as non-technical skills.

    Technical SkillsNon-technical Skills

    Apart from programming languages, you also need to learn to use these software development tools that developers generally use.

    • SQL, a language that is used to power database engines
    • Git and Mercurial SCM are source control systems
    • Integrated development environments help in writing, modification, running, and debugging code

    Having non-technical skills is also beneficial for a software developer as you will need to communicate with clients and the software development team on a regular basis.

    • Have good communication skills
    • Must be creative and detail-oriented
    • Have a problem-solving attitude to deal with software development challenges
  7. Start Practicing

  8. With all the knowledge, you must start practising and devote your complete time to building various software types. Follow the software development life cycle to gain a thorough understanding of building software, which will help to be a professional software developer.

  9. Build Your Portfolio & Apply Confidently

  10. Once you start building software solutions, begin to compile all projects into a portfolio. Maintaining a portfolio will help you to showcase your work efficiently. You can show your portfolio in any software development company who have experience in building custom software solutions.

    Here are the things your portfolio should contain:

    • Short biography of projects
    • Relevant skills
    • Link to your resume
    • Reviews or feedback from clients

    You can create your own domain to showcase your projects or post your work on a free hosting site like GitHub or GitLab.

Now in the next section, we are going to discuss various roles & responsibilities of a software developer professional.

What are the Roles & Responsibilities of a Software Developer?

Here are some of the common software developer job responsibilities.

  • Developer needs to present an idea to the client for their custom business challenges
  • Recommending software upgrades to exist computer systems
  • A developer needs to involve in designing software-based solutions as per clients’ needs
  • Work closely with a business analyst and the UX/UI designer
  • Managing the project to ensure quality delivery throughout the software development lifecycle
  • Preparing training manual for the application users
  • Test the entire program to ensure the software is working exactly the same way it is intended
  • Creating detailed models and diagrams to ensure which software code will be needed
  • Documenting application and system design aspects
  • Ensuring software is compatible with data management systems

If you have the above skills you can look for a company who are looking to hire software developers for developing custom software solutions. After knowing both types of professional careers, check the next section if it is getting difficult for you to pick.

Web Developer vs Software Developer: Best Career Option

There are several distinctions when it comes to choosing your career path as a software developer or web developer. But how will you decide?

Not to worry; let’s check some of the factors.

FactorSoftware DeveloperWeb Developer
EducationDevelopers need at least a degree in computer courses.Having mastery in web building can help you fetch a job.
Future DemandUS Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the software maker profession will increase by 22% by 2023.The web maker profession will increase to 13% by 2023, as stated by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
SalariesThe median pay of a software developer is $110,140.The median pay of a web developer is over $77,200.
Job FlexibilitySoftware developers have less flexibility as they need to join an enterprise company that deals in software development or need to work for the government for software security.Web developers have more flexibility as they can choose to work with a web development firm for various industry clients or work as a freelancer.
Job GrowthSeeing the demand, software developers have more job growth.Compared to software developers, web developers have less job growth.

We are also going to discuss the most asked questions which are related to this topic. Don’t forget to check the answers to clarify your doubts in case you have.

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FAQ About Web and Software Developer

  1. What are the similarities between a web developer and a software developer?

  2. Both the developers need to know multiple coding languages, work on developing technical solutions, troubleshoot errors present in the code, and have non-technical skills.

  3. Are software developers in demand?

  4. Definitely yes. Apart from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report, if you look at the Google trend, you will find that people are keener towards learning more about ‘Software Developer’ as a career choice than ‘Web Developer’.

    Google Trends

    Source: Google Trends

  5. What are the different types of web app developers?

    • Back-end Developers: They deal with designing the look and feel of the website from the users’ perspective.
    • Front-end Developers: They deal with the technicalities of the website, including database handling, creating the logic, integrating APIs, and developing website architecture.
    • Full-stack Developers: They involve themselves in both front-end and back-end development tasks.

Pursue the Best Career Option

We hope that this guide has helped you find the most suitable career option. As we have discussed the technical professions in detail, you have the clarity now.

No matter what profession you choose, web and software development are both demanded these days. Therefore, you will get a win-win situation even if you pick one of them to lend a dream job for yourself.

In case you choose one career option and later want to change it because you don’t like it much, then there is good news for you. You are not stuck as there is so much crossover between languages. You can easily switch your career later.

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Rakesh Patel

Written by

Rakesh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies (Canada). He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311

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