All in the <head> – Ponderings and code by Drew McLellan –

Web Development is Software Development

With a considerable amount of the world’s web development being performed in a context focussed on visual design, it’s easy to see how that work can get pushed to the side a little. That’s not to say that the importance of development work isn’t recognised, but perhaps that the nature of the work isn’t recognised for what it is. Within the context of a web shop or design agency the tendency is to approach development aspects of a project in the same way as the design. However, development is not the same as design, and the processes and management of such work has to reflect this.

When all is said and done, web development is a flavour of software development. Of course this is both a blessing and a curse. Recognising your projects as software development means enacting all sorts of formal processes and procedures, and having to worry about nasty stuff like specification documents, bug tracking and team structure. The upside to this is that the software industry is far more mature than the web development industry, and they have learned the hard way that all these processes and procedures and nasty things like specs, bug tracking and team structure will save your project.

Thankfully, this general trend seems to be shifting with the increased demand for full-blown web applications. With more and more businesses realising that web-based software is not only convenient, flexible and cool, but hey, it’s pretty cost-effective too, the discipline balance within new projects is tipping towards development rather than a design. In short, our work is starting to look more like the software development projects that they are.

The good news is that there’s simply a ton of information, books, articles and such about software development and management out there. As I’ve mentioned before, writing the code is the easy bit, and most of thought and teaching on good software development practises focusses on people, the management of the project and the product itself. These are all valuable lessons that apply equally well to any web development project. Ignoring them is quite simply a terrible waste.