Software Development vs Web Development: What's The Difference?

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    hen you’re looking for programs that you want to enroll in, you may be able to narrow it down to the industry and the sector that you want to work in. However, it may sometimes be difficult to truly decide which course you want to take at a post-secondary institution that will lead you to your dream job. 

    When it comes to technology courses, aspiring students may sometimes have difficulty discerning certain courses if they appear to be similar to each other. Two of these courses are Software Development and Web Design and Development. It is understandable why people can get confused between the two, as both programs offer classes to learn coding languages, cover elements of user experience and design, and are concerned with digital infrastructure. 

    In this blog, we’ll go over key differences between a Web Development and a Software Development program, and which one might be suited best to you, or align with your interests. 

    Differences in the Programming Languages 

    If you enroll into a Web Design and Development Program, you will become well versed in languages like HTML/CSS, JavaScript, and learn elements like Content Management Systems (CMS). 

    While a Software Development Course does touch on these languages, there are also more languages you can learn such as Python, C, C++, C#, and Java. In software development, you will also learn the .NET framework, which allows the integration of several programming languages to develop Windows forms and web applications, something you will not find in the Web Development Diploma program. 

    Here is a quick breakdown of languages and concepts you will learn in each, by order of importance to each program, including where they overlap: 

    Categorizing programming languages based on applicability

    Web development: 

    • HTML/CSS
    • JavaScript 
    • Structured Query Language (SQL)
    • Data Definition Language (DDL)
    • PHP

    Software development: 

    • C, C++, C#
    • .NET Framework
    • Java, JavaScript and Jquery
    • Python
    • Structured Query Language (SQL)
    • HTML and CSS
    • PHP


    • HTML/CSS 
    • JavaScript
    • Structured Query Language (SQL) 
    • PHP 

    These languages differ greatly in their purpose and what they want to accomplish. For example, you can never develop a webpage if you’re only familiar with Python, and likewise you cannot create various automating softwares with HTML. 

    You can look into the languages that you’re most interested in using and pick the program that aligns with teaching you those ones. Think about what you really want to design: If it’s games and applications, you might be better off with software development. If you’re interested in curating pages for several organizations and causes that offer various services, then web development might be the way to go. 

    Differences in Design

    Another thing that differentiates web development from software development is the integration of graphic design concepts. If this is something that you’re interested in, you may gravitate towards web development more. Both fields are very creative in their own right. When it comes to web pages you can do something unique and interesting from time to time. With software development you will be more concerned with how to make the applications as easy and entertaining as possible for users to engage with, but there are limitless possibilities because majorly all softwares differ in their purpose and functionality. 

    When it comes to design aspects, here is a quick breakdown of what each program offers: 

    Design Aspects commonalities between Software development and Web Development

    Web development: 

    • Web Graphics (Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign).  
    • CMS and Frameworks (Wordpress and Bootstrap). 

    Software development: 

    • UX and UI Design Fundamentals (interface layouts, usability testing, navigation principles, and visual designs).
    • Object-Oriented Software Design (where you can create classes and define characteristics). 

    There is no overlap in this particular area. 

    In a Web Design and Development program, students will also have a capstone project where they will design their own website and get to display their work for potential employers to see. This does not regularly happen in Software Development courses, but both programs offer a practicum where students can gain real work experience. 

    Are The Skills Transferable?

    You can easily settle in Canada if you decide to take any of these routes because they are both high in demand and constantly needed by employers and clients. Plus, it won't be too hard to transition if you decide to switch careers in the future. 

    If you’re considering either of these programs to turn into a career, chances are you’ll be able to grasp the fundamental concepts of programming and design and have even practiced some in your spare time. 

    If you’re coming directly from high school, you may already have done some related courses in secondary school and know the concepts at least from an introductory level. But if you have no experience, that’s perfectly fine because you will learn through the course that you take. 

    While most of the skills are transferable, such as working with teams and clients, understanding the terms and concepts of coding, and having the eye for design, you may still need to take a few additional classes to compensate for the languages and design skills that were missing in your program. 

    According to occupational interests, in both careers you need to be innovative, methodical, and directive, in that order. That means both jobs require similar traits and what you have to offer will easily translate into both. 

    Occupational Interests in Software Development and Web Development

    How to Know What’s Right For You

    When it comes down to it, the main difference between web developers and software developers are the projects that they work on. Web developers are concerned with webpages, how they can get websites to work well and be appealing on the internet, and how they will appear across different platforms including the monitor screens. 

    Software developers on the other hand are worried about how they can create the most effective computer program for the needs of its users, and whether the user interface will meet the needs of users or clients. The projects you may work on can often be more broad and differ greatly from each other. 

    Fundamentally, the creation of web pages can more or less stay the same, while with software development, you could be creating something completely new or unique each time. However, both are still challenging (in a positive way) in their own right. 

    What to do Next? 

    If either of these post-secondary programs interest you, ABM College’s technology programs in Web Design and Development or Software Development can get you started in your career in only a year, practicum included. 

    For more information, you can review our full guide to becoming a web developer or learn about exciting career opportunities in software development

    See what one of our instructors has to say about the Web Design and Development program:

    Continue to explore your options about how these programs can help you achieve your goals by contacting us or visiting our blog for more education and industry information. 

    A student writing on their notebook.

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