What is Software Development? Definition and Types, Explained

Being a software developer is a lucrative career plan. Those are people with some serious marketable skills. But what exactly are they doing? What is software development?

What is Software Development? Definition and Types, Explained

Software development refers to computer science activities that create, design, deploy, and support software. The software is the set of instructions or programs that tell a computer what to do. It is independent of hardware and makes computers programmable. 

Software development provides a series of steps for programmers to create computer programs. This process makes up the phases in the software development life cycle. Therefore, understanding the software development method offers vast opportunities in the IT industry.

In this article, we explain software development, summarize types of computer programs and explore jobs that use the IT development process.

What is Software Development?

Software development is the process programmers use to build computer programs. The process, also known as the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), includes several phases that provide a method for creating products that meet technical specifications and user requirements. It involves the application of various principles and techniques from computer science, engineering, and mathematical analysis.

The SDLC provides an international standard for software companies to build and improve their computer programs. In addition, it offers a defined structure for development teams to follow in designing, creating, and maintaining high-quality software. The IT software development process aims to build compelling products within a limited budget and timeline.

Software development involves writing and maintaining the source code. Still, in a broader sense, it includes all processes from the conception of the desired software through the final manifestation, typically in a planned and structured process often overlapping with software engineering. It also includes research, new development, prototyping, modification, reuse, re-engineering, maintenance, or other activities resulting in software products.

Types of Software Development

The software belongs to three main groups based on its use and application. First, here are the popular categories of software.

System Software 

System software, often known as the operating system or OS is your computer's program to convert input commands into a language other machines can understand. The hardware in a computer is under the control of the operating system. For example, the Microsoft Windows operating system, the Apple MacBook's Mac OS, and Ubuntu, based on Linux, are standard operating systems used in personal computers. In addition, the Apache OS is utilized by web servers, whereas proprietary systems are built using the UNIX operating system.


Application Software

Most individuals utilize this program to carry out chores on their computers and smartphones. Examples often used include word processors, web browsers, media players, photo editing programs, antivirus software, and even software-as-a-service (SAS) goods.


This is the programming language used to create software. It is used only by coders to develop programs. Programming languages include Java, C++, PHP, and Simlab. Programming software gives programmers tools such as text editors, compilers, linkers, debuggers, and other tools to create code.

Why is Software Development Important?

Software development is a process of creating and maintaining software applications. It is a crucial component of the information technology sector since it enables companies to develop unique apps that can automate procedures and boost productivity.

Key Features of Effective Software Development

The development of practical software requires many essential components. Yet, some of the most crucial ones involve developing a precise and concise requirements document, adopting a robust and tried-and-true software development approach, and having a solid communication strategy for all parties involved.

  • The success of any software development project depends on creating a clear and straightforward requirements document. This document should list all necessary functions and any unique restrictions or requirements. Creating a high-quality software solution is simpler when the project requirements are clearly understood.
  • For a project to be successful, a solid, tried-and-true software development technique is also crucial. Also, there are several approaches for developing software, but not all of them are equally efficient. Agile, waterfall, and iterative development are some of the more well-liked and successful techniques.
  • Any software development project's success depends on having a solid communication strategy amongst all stakeholders or clients. All parties involved in the project should know its requirements, development process, and schedule. Good communication is essential to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the project is successfully finished.

Jobs That Use Software Development

System administrators, engineers, and software developers are among the many professions that require these talents. These experts use their expertise to design and manage software programs and troubleshoot and resolve software-related problems.

Quality Assurance Engineer

National average salary: $64,770 per year

Primary duties: Quality assurance engineers ensure software development projects adhere to design specifications and client requirements. They compile quality assurance reports, test products, identify defects and ensure programs are bug-free before deployment and release to users.

Computer programmer

National average salary: $70,803 per year

Primary duties: Computer programmers write, modify and debug software. They write code to create server applications and maintain, monitor, document, and test software.

Database administrator

National average salary: $89,195 per year

Primary duties: Database administrators monitor and improve the performance of database systems. They install, configure, troubleshoot, and maintain database systems and always ensure optimal security.

Senior systems analyst

National average salary: $89,689 per year


Primary duties: Senior systems analysts monitor network and system parameters, such as performance and security. They install, configure, maintain and upgrade the software and hardware of the networking systems.

Software engineer

National average salary: $92,216 per year

Primary duties: Software engineers document and test programs for client applications. They manage projects and explain business requirements and technical specifications based on company guidelines and user expectations.

Key Steps in the Software Development Process

There are six significant steps in the software development life cycle, including:

Needs Identification

One of the crucial phases in the software development process is need identification. The project team collaborates with the client to understand the unique demands and specifications of the program during the identification stage. Following that, a comprehensive software specification is created using this information.

Furthermore, it is one of the most critical processes in the software development process because it prepares the ground for all the following operations. Creating software that fulfills the client's requirements is possible by having a good grasp of them. Because of this, it's crucial to start with a needs analysis to ensure the finished program is appropriate for its intended use.

Requirements Analysis

After starting a software development project, the first thing is to analyze the requirements. It enables the project team to comprehend what the client or user seeks precisely. Interviews, questionnaires, and other research techniques will be used to acquire the essential data for the requirements analysis. For the project team to begin creating a plan for the program, the data must be sorted and examined after it has been gathered.


In the process of developing software, design is an essential step. It is converting user needs into a software solution that satisfies those needs. To construct the system, design entails selecting appropriate data structures, algorithms, and interfaces. Performance, memory use, and other characteristics are also traded off. A practical design can significantly impact a software system's quality and usefulness.

Development and Implementation

A software program goes through development and implementation before it is finally released. Therefore, the program must be developed and implemented to fulfill the user's needs precisely, be simple to use, and be ready for immediate release.


Testing is a crucial phase in the software development process to ensure that the program is functional and meets all requirements. To correct any mistakes or problems before the software is made available to the public, testing aids in finding them in the program.

Deployment and Maintenance

Installing the program on a server, setting up the server, and making sure the software is functioning correctly are all steps in the deployment and maintenance process. Moreover, troubleshooting and addressing any problems that occur are part of maintenance.

Bottom Line

If you are skilled in IT and software development, you can work in any of the roles mentioned above and others. In addition, you have a wide range of job options in this industry if you have the skills to write, test computer programs, or do any other SDLC duty. I hope this article gave you a clear understanding of software development and how to start.

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