The distinction between a software engineer vs. a web developer may seem challenging to decipher at a glance.
While there is some intersection between their operational domain, both software engineers and web developers use their computer science background to create specific software products.
Software engineers focus on developing software systems and their overall efficiency, while web developers are restricted to web-based software applications.
There are differences, but how do these two roles play out in the real world? Would you hire software engineers or web developers?
Continue reading to learn more about the core differences between a software engineer vs. a web developer, each role’s typical responsibilities, and in-demand skills.
Who is a software engineer?
A software engineer is a skilled professional responsible for designing, developing, maintaining, testing, and evaluating computer software by following the software engineering principles.
They are in charge of creating software products that meet the specifications of operating systems, networks, and hardware. The typical responsibilities of a software engineer can include the following:
1. Performing software research, design, development, testing, compiling, and distribution
2. Modifying existing software to fix bugs, incorporating new hardware, or improving performance
3. Evaluating user/software requirements, such as design feasibility and cost/time constraints
4. Participating in the system software deployment and installation
5. Overseeing the IT architecture, large-scale data stores, and cloud-based systems
Who is a web developer?
On the flip side, web developers are in charge of how a website or web application looks and operates. They design and develop the user interface and page layout, including the back-end systems.
They collaborate with team members to build high-performing websites for businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and anyone looking to establish an online presence. Their typical responsibilities include:
1. Creating websites using standard HTML/CSS practices
2. Troubleshooting problems with performance or user experience
3. Developing and optimizing web pages for evolving business requirements
4. Collaborating with the core team to ensure that the final product sticks to outlined budgets, scope, and designs
5. Maintaining, expanding, and enhancing the website after development
Both career options for software engineer or web developer require extensive programming experience, good attention to detail, and exceptional problem-solving skills. But they have distinct workflows, maintenance needs, and intricacies.
To help you understand the nuances of a software engineer vs. a web developer, let’s take a closer look at the core skills of these popular tech fields.
Choosing between a software engineer and vs. web developer
The more you compare software engineers vs. web developers, the more the respective lines seem blurry.
Historically, web developers would focus exclusively on building web pages and web-based products. But today, a web developer may be involved in building APIs, databases, and other complex projects.
We also see software engineers working on multiple software projects, from the web to Extended reality. However, software engineering is generally more comprehensive and strategic than web development.
The major difference between software engineers vs. web developers lies within their expertise. This includes the niches they work in, shaping their overall career paths and their knowledge of computer programs as well as specific tools.
But software engineers may need to be skilled in a much broader set of programming languages, frameworks, and tools. Understanding their core skills will help you know what to look for to hire the right talent.
In-demand skills for software engineers
1.Bachelor’s/Master’s degree or higher in computer science or equivalent experience
3. Knowledge of DevOps and cloud computing concepts and platforms like AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure
4. Knowledge of web applications and databases like SQL, Oracle, MongoDB, and so on
5. Familiarity with concepts like data structures, algorithms, and the basics of computer network
In-demand skills for web developers
1. Associate degree in web development, computer science, graphic design, or equivalent experience
2. Expertise in HTML and CSS
4. Knowledge of web application workflows
5. Familiarity with hosting platforms and user interactions
6. Experience with a wide range of operating systems, browsers, and devices to ensure website compatibility
7. A track record of working on front-end development or database management, with expertise in back-end development, will be an added advantage
Some common skills and traits of software engineers and web developers include:
Software engineers must be able to analyze user trends and make recommendations to support changing designs, content, and management needs of their users.
With new website updates, web developers must be able to analyze and resolve problems related to the code, operation, and overall website design.
Critical thinking & problem-solving skills:
Every software should solve a particular problem or need. Therefore, this forces software engineers and web developers to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions.
Coming up with the best approach to a given problem requires strong problem-solving and critical thinking abilities to offer creative solutions.
Other interpersonal skills:
Following a software engineering or web development career path will require close collaboration with other software developers, computer science experts, and IT professionals.
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are helpful, especially for large projects with numerous stakeholders.
Software engineers vs. web developers: Who to hire?
Businesses will likely continue to implore the services of software engineers and web developers as e-commerce and society’s reliance on smart devices are growing.
Although web development and software engineering share common ground, the two fields cater to different interests and strengths.
You might still wonder how to choose between software engineers vs. web developers. The question isn’t “Who’s better?” It’s “Who best suits my business or project?”
Understanding what makes these positions unique allows you to consider your project requirements and the skills required to achieve your goal.
Additionally, decide whether you need the candidate for a long or short-term project, as budget can be a consideration while making your choice.
Technology is evolving fast, and if you landed on this blog, you’re likely considering building up your team with more experts.
There is a growing need for these professionals across different sectors, and as the world relies on technology, the demand will grow continuously.
The need for developers and engineers who can stay abreast with all the new technologies is at an all-time high.
Since you can now distinguish between a software engineer vs. a web developer, It’ll help you decide on the best candidate for your business.
Joy Nwaiwu is a seasoned writer skilled at curating meaningful, well-articulated content spanning various industry verticals.
She is an avid learner who enjoys utilizing her writing skills to create value and drive continuous growth for brands.