Difference between software design and web development?

Added 09.05.11

It's easy to get confused with all of the terms flying around in the internet business these days. Search engine optimisation, Social Media Marketing, Web Design, Programming, Software Design and Website Development are just some of the terms we are likely to use on a daily basis with very little idea about what they really, precisely mean. If you've ever tried to decipher the difference between software design and web development you'll likely have found that is is an extremely difficult task. The two processes are often considered completely identical and tend to be treated as such, however, although software design is extremely similar to web development it is certainly not exactly the same activity.

To identify the differences, let's first look at what is meant by the terms. Web development is a term used to refer to all of the processes that contribute to the creation and compilation of web coding and programming necessary for the building of websites for the internet. The tasks carried out in website development control all of a website's functionality and concealed display mechanisms known as the 'back end' of a website. Web developers create websites using scripting languages such as JavaScript and database platforms such as ASP.NET and PHP.

When we define software design, it will become apparent that web development is essentially a more specialised area of software design. Software design and web development both involve the production and customisation of coding and use programming scripts to design and render their projects. Some of the scripts used in the two processes are also similar and many software designers later end up specialising in web development.

However, whereas web development refers to the specific development of applications for the internet alone, the principles of software design may be applied to other areas of industry to devise software for platforms other than those online. Software design is a more general process of planning and preparing software solutions for all manner of applications from intelligent appliances to machinery and technological toys. The purposes of website development are a lot more definite because it is only carried out in relation to the software needs of websites on the internet.

Hopefully you're now feeling informed and confident enough to be the smart one and provide a definitive response next time the question – what is the difference between software design and web development? - comes up in conversation. Maybe you're even keen to try your hand at either of them!