What Is Software Development? Definition, Process and Types

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 17 September 2022 | Published 11 October 2021

Updated 17 September 2022

Published 11 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Computers, apps and webpages rely on well-designed software to execute the duties we assign to them. Software development is a critical element of the information technology sector that requires knowledge and expertise. Understanding the software development technique may present more job opportunities for you in the technology sector. In this article, we define and discuss what is software development, how is software developed, who is a software developer and what do you need to become one.

What is software development?

Software development, also known as application development or software design, involves a set of procedures used to design, produce, deploy and maintain software. Software development involves utilising multiple programming languages and codes that give the structure and function for the produced software. Software may be developed to meet a wide range of personal and professional demands, goals, objectives and procedures.

People in a variety of jobs can perform software development, but it's most frequently carried out by software programmers who use their computer programming abilities to carry out the phases of software development. These stages entail exploratory research, process flow design, data flow design, flow charts, technical records, software testing, identification and elimination of defects. All of these procedures and stages are part of the software development life cycle (SDLC).

Related: What Does It Take To Be a Software Engineer?

What are the types of software?

The software encompasses a mixture of programs or a set of instructions that offer functionality to computers and functions independently of the hardware. The software allows computers to be programmed by telling them what to do and when to do it. Despite the purpose being the same, there are four categories of software:

  • Application software: This software is in programs or applications that assist the user in completing certain tasks. Application software, for instance, is part of security applications, video players, data management software and different office productivity packages.

  • Programming software: Programming software can help programmers create code. This sort of software produces essential development tools like debuggers, linkers, compilers and text editors.

  • System software: This is a sort of software that defines the basic operations and operational requirements of a computing system, such as hardware management, utilities, disc management and operating systems.

  • Embedded software: This form of software is a subset of embedded systems software that provides functionality for devices and machines that aren't usually classified as computers, such as telecommunication networks, cars and robots. The gadgets, and their software, may link to the Internet of Things, commonly known as IoT.

How is software developed?

Discussed below are the steps associated with software development:

1. Understand requirements and identify the necessary software for the project

Requirements identification involves the process of brainstorming and market research. Before developing software, it's essential to conduct a comprehensive market study to assess the product's feasibility. Developers can determine the features the program has to provide for its targeted users to ensure that they find it essential and helpful. You may obtain this information in various methods, including feedback from existing and prospective consumers and surveys. It's also critical to examine the product's merits, shortcomings and prospects. Only if the product fulfils all the requirements can the software development process begin.

2. Assess needs of the chosen software

The second stage entails performing a need assessment. In this stage, stakeholders agree on the user and technical needs and specifications of the proposed product. This second phase offers a thorough overview of each component and part, the product scope, the developer's duties and the testing conditions required to create a quality result.

Developers, project managers, testers, users and the quality assurance team play a major role in the need assessment step. This is also the time whereby programmers decide on a software development strategy, such as the agile, fountain, spiral, open-source, rapid application or waterfall framework. In contrast to the waterfall paradigm, most alternative methods emphasise constructing, repairing, synchronising and stabilising. There are many models that mix methods, including open-source software development. The team documents the conclusion of this stage in a Software Requirement Specification document. The team may always refer to this document during the development and implementation process.

3. Design the software

Software developers and architects leverage this phase to generate sophisticated technical specifications that would be used to construct the program. The scope of discussion in this stage encompasses suitable technology, risk levels, project limits, money, team composition, timeframe and technique and architectural design. The Design Specification Document (DSD) describes the product's architectural design, communication, components, user flows and front-end representation. This stage poses as a template for testers, and developers reducing the likelihood of time delays, errors and bugs in the final product.

4. Code, write the programs and implement the software

In this stage, developers come up with and implement design parameters. Developers create code according to the product needs and specifications agreed upon in previous phases. The programmers may also test and review the code. When they finish, they may deploy the product as part of the implementation step. This allows the programmers to run a pilot version of the application to check and verify that it satisfies the requirements.

Related: What Computer Skills Are Employers Seeking (Plus Examples)

5. Test the software

Before delivering the program to consumers, the testing step inspects it for flaws and confirms its performance. During this stage, experienced testers validate the product's functionality to ensure that it fulfils the criteria agreed upon in previous rounds and documented in the needs assessment document. Testers who have prior knowledge of the program or a test script utilise exploratory testing to check the functioning of specific components of the product.

They inform developers of coding flaws. The developers update the program and solve the issues within it. Simultaneously, the testers repeat the process until the software is bug-free and functions as anticipated.

6. Deploy and maintain the finalised software

When the program is free of flaws, the developers can offer it to consumers. Following the release of a program's production version, the software development firm usually establishes and forms a maintenance department to deal with any setback or tackle any problems that users may face while utilising the software. Maintenance may involve fixing the problem if it's small, but significant software faults may require an upgrade.

What is a software developer?

A software developer creates software or apps that allow users to accomplish certain tasks on computers and mobile devices. While some software developers concentrate on developing specialised software or apps, others concentrate on developing massive systems or networks that oversee control or device networks. This job is significantly less formal than that of software engineers and it generally focuses on certain parts of a project, such as code authoring. Software developers collaborate in cross-functional teams to drive the overall progress of the software development life cycle by turning requirements into features, performing maintenance, testing and managing procedures and development teams.

Related: What Is a Computer Scientist? Duties, Skills and Education

What do you need to become a software developer?

Although there's no fixed path toward becoming a software developer, a career in software development typically necessitates the following qualifications:


The majority of software developers have a bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering or a closely related subject. Many universities offer an online computer science degree programmes in addition to regular on-campus programmes. While businesses often prefer applicants with a bachelor's degree, a diploma can assist individuals in obtaining entry-level positions in the field. Students enrolled in software development associate programmes might study integration and data transfer, integration and data transfer, cost-benefit analysis, product documentation and testing, software design and programming languages and implementation.

Related: What Does It Take To Be a Software Engineer?


Software developers often receive training in the many programming languages used in the industry by technology businesses. While you can learn many of these languages by completing software developer degree programmes, other opportunities, such as conferences, training courses or online workshops, can help you remain up to date on new advancements. Companies may also provide on-the-job training, which includes learning more about the specific product or service that they provide and any processes that the developer may follow.


You may consider cultivating the following skills to succeed in your role as a software developer:

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Excellent verbal and nonverbal communication

  • Attention to detail

  • Dedication and perseverance

  • Analytical thinking abilities

  • Proficiency in various programming languages

  • Mathematical abilities

  • Logical reasoning

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