The Basics of Software Development: A Beginner-Friendly Guide


Copy link
Copy Link


Praise Iwuh

June 16, 2023

The Basics of Software Development: A Beginner-Friendly Guide

Have you ever wondered what goes behind the scenes of creating your favourite apps, websites, or video games? But most articles or lessons you read are too complicated to grasp, leaving you even more confused than when you started. Well, look no further because this article is all you need to understand the basics of software development.

This article is your beginner-friendly guide on the basics you need to know about software development. We have also included tips on the roadmap to starting a successful software development journey and the essential steps involved.

 Whether you aspire to become a tech guru, desire to solve real-world problems, or simply want to understand the digital landscape better, this article will be your holy grail. 

You don't need to worry if you're new to coding or find technology intimidating – we're here to guide you every step of the way. So, fasten your seatbelts, and let's explore the foundations of software development together!

What You Will Learn

  • What is Software development?
  • Types of Software
  • Benefits of Software Development
  • Steps Involved in Software Development: How to get started
  • The Building Blocks of Effective Software Development
  • 10 Common Software Development Terminologies
  • Agile Vs Waterfall Processes
  • Essential Programming Languages for Software Development
  • How to Start Your Software Development Journey

What is Software Development?

Software development refers to creating computer programs or applications that perform specific tasks or solve particular problems. It involves designing, coding, testing, and maintaining software to meet the needs of users or organisations. Think of it as building a virtual tool or machine that executes instructions and provides desired outcomes.

For example, let's consider the creation of a mobile gaming application. Software developers would start by gathering requirements and understanding what the app needs to do—such as displaying amazing gameplay, stunning graphics, sound effects, fast loading time, and compatibility.

They would then design the app's user interface, determining how it looks and how users interact. Next, developers would write the necessary code in a programming language like Java or Swift, instructing the app on how to process data and develop your game in an easy-to-understand manner.

They would also choose graphics design software (usually 2D graphic design software), a digital audio workstation program, amongst other programs.

After this, the code would be rigorously tested to ensure it functions correctly and is error or bug-free. Finally, the app would be regularly updated and maintained to incorporate new features, improve performance, and address any issues. Through this process, software developers transform an idea into a functional application that users can enjoy on their mobile devices.

Software development comes in various forms, but some are more prevalent than others.

Here are examples of some of the most common types of software development:

  • Web development
  • Mobile application development
  • Software tools development
  • Security software development
  • Embedded systems development
  • API development
  • Operating systems development

Read: Proprietary Software vs Off-the-Shelf Software

Types of Software

Software is the set of instructions or programs a computer uses to carry out its tasks. It makes computers programmable and is hardware-independent

There are three major types of software. They include:

1. System Software

System software is a group of applications that help a computer or other computing device run efficiently and manage resources. It serves as a bridge between a computer system's physical parts and the software programs or apps that users employ.

Some essential system software components include operating systems, disk management, device drivers, utility programs, firmware and other operational necessities.

Essentially, system software serves as the backbone of the computer.

2. Programming Software

Programming software is a group of tools and programs that help programmers create, edit, test, and manage computer programs and software applications. It offers a setting where programmers can write code using a variety of programming languages, test their code, and facilitate the development of software solutions.

Some essential components of programming software include text editors, compilers, Integrated Development Environments (IDE), Version Control Systems (VCS), libraries, and frameworks.

3. Application Software

Application software is a term used to describe a group of computer programs or software applications created to carry out particular functions or offer consumer capabilities.

Users engage with this program directly to complete various tasks, such as communication, work, entertainment, or problem-solving. Some more examples of these forms of application software comprise productivity tools, communication applications, educational Software, entertainment and media applications, and many more. 

In summary, application software helps users perform tasks.

Benefits of Software Development

1. Digital transformation

Software development is at the forefront of changing sectors and businesses in the current digital era. It propels the transition to digital processes, making firms more accessible, effective, and globally connected. 

2. Automation and efficiency

Software development is crucial in automating manual processes, reducing human effort, and enhancing efficiency.

3. Improved user experience

The goal of software development is to produce intuitive interactions and user-friendly interfaces. Hence, software developers can make technology more approachable, pleasant, and inclusive for users of all backgrounds and skill levels by building applications that emphasize user experience.

4. Solved problems

Software development enables us to innovate and increase productivity, whether creating apps that make our lives more convenient or creating software to handle tough challenges in various industries.

Steps Involved in Software Development: How to Get Started

Here are the essential steps to get started on software development: However, it is essential to note that these steps may vary or increase depending on the size of the software development project:

1. Idea generation and market research 

This is the first step of every software development process, regardless of the type of project. It involves brainstorming on an idea and analysing the market to determine the product's viability. 

Idea generation and market research are essential because it helps developers decide what features and services an app should offer; So that the Software's intended users can benefit from it to the fullest extent possible and find it necessary and valuable.

Processes for developing Software can only begin if the final result satisfies every requirement necessary for success.

2. Selecting a methodology

This involves establishing a framework which would serve as a roadmap for the software development project. 

Methodologies include Waterfall, Rapid Application Development (RAD), Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), DevOps, and Agile development.

The Waterfall methodology is a sequential approach where each phase is completed before moving to the next. Agile methodologies like Scrum and Kanban focus on iterative development, frequent feedback, and adaptability. Scrum uses short sprints and cross-functional teams to deliver increments of the product. Kanban emphasises visualising and optimising workflow. 

The lean methodology aims to eliminate waste and deliver value quickly. The Spiral model combines iterative development and risk management. 

Additionally, there are hybrid approaches that blend different methodologies to suit specific project requirements. The choice of methodology depends on factors like project size, complexity, flexibility, and stakeholder collaboration preferences.

An excellent way to determine which methodology you should use for your project is to understand the project's goals, scope, and specific requirements. This will involve examining factors such as size, complexity, timing, and the required level of flexibility of the project. 

3. Requirements analysis

Here, stakeholders decide on the technical, user, and product specifications needed for the proposed product to accomplish its objectives. 

This stage offers a thorough breakdown of each component, the scope, the responsibilities of the developers, and the testing requirements to produce a high-quality product.

Development teams, users, testers, project managers, and quality assurance are all involved in the requirement analysis step. This team then records the results of this stage in a document called a Software Requirement Specification (SRS), which teams can always refer to when implementing a project.

Requirement analysis also involves setting clear and achievable goals, which is crucial in software development. Goalsetting in software development provides a roadmap, guiding teams in defining scope, timeline, and outcomes. They keep developers focused, motivated, and on track.

By setting measurable objectives, teams can track progress and make adjustments as needed. Whether it's enhancing functionality, optimizing performance, or addressing user feedback, goal setting ensures software development efforts align with project objectives, leading to high-quality solutions.

4. Design

A software development process's design step entails organising and drawing up a blueprint for the software solution. It includes converting specifications into a detailed design that specifies the system's architecture, parts, and user interface. 

The system architecture, data models, algorithms, and functionality are all defined at this stage. They also take into account aspects like performance, security, and scalability. The design phase ensures the software solution is technically and functionally feasible and achieves the required goals. 

It offers a development phase road map, instructing programmers on successfully building the solution. 

The Design Specification Document (DSD) outlines the product's front-end representation, communication, architectural design, components, and user flows. This procedure decreases the likelihood of errors and delays in the end product by giving developers and testers a template.

5. Development and Implementation

The development and implementation stage in a software development process is where the actual coding and creation of the software solution takes place. Developers use the design specifications as a guide to write the code, build the necessary functionalities, and integrate various components. This stage involves writing, testing, and debugging the software code to ensure it works as intended. Once the development is complete, the Software is implemented by deploying it to the target environment. This may involve installing it on servers, configuring databases, and setting up any required infrastructure. The development and implementation stage is critical, transforming the design into a working software application ready for testing and eventual deployment to end-users.

6. Testing

The testing stage in a software development process is where the software application is evaluated to ensure that it functions correctly and meets the specified requirements. Various testing techniques and methodologies are employed to identify defects or issues in the Software. This stage includes unit testing, where individual components are tested; integration testing, to check the interactions between different modules; and system testing, which verifies the overall system behaviour. Additionally, user acceptance testing may involve end-users in validating the Software's usability and functionality. The goal of testing is to uncover any errors, bugs, or inconsistencies in the Software and ensure that it performs as expected. By conducting thorough testing, developers can enhance the Software's quality, reliability, and performance before it is released to end-users.

7. Deployment and maintenance

The deployment and maintenance stage in a software development process involves releasing the software application to users and ensuring its ongoing functionality and support. During deployment, the Software is installed and configured on the intended environment, such as servers or cloud platforms, making it accessible to users. After deployment, maintenance activities begin, including monitoring the Software's performance, addressing any issues or bugs, and implementing updates or enhancements as needed. Maintenance also involves providing user support, troubleshooting problems, and ensuring the Software remains secure and up-to-date. This stage is crucial for ensuring the long-term success and usability of the software application, as it involves actively managing and optimising its performance and addressing user feedback and evolving requirements over time.

The Building Blocks of Effective Software Development: Understanding the Fundamentals

1. Programming languages

Computers use programming languages to interpret and carry out instructions, much as people use languages to communicate. Applications built with popular programming languages like Java, JavaScript, and Python form the basis for these systems.

In subsequent paragraphs, We will discuss the essential programming languages for software development.

2. Algorithms and Logic

Algorithms are systematic approaches to problem-solving. It is a detailed process or set of guidelines for solving a problem. 

An algorithm describes the sequence of steps required to achieve a desired result. Contrarily, Logic describes the deliberation and judgment required for creating and applying algorithms. It entails segmenting challenging problems into smaller, more manageable steps and placing them logically. Algorithms and Logic are essential building blocks for software development because developers can approach problems systematically, find practical solutions, and write clean, organised code by mastering algorithmic thinking and reasoning. 

3. Data structures

Data structures describe how we arrange and store data within a program. They include arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, and trees. For instance, Arrays store a collection of elements, while linked lists connect individual nodes.

Stacks and queues manage data in a last-in, first-out (LIFO) and first-in, first-out (FIFO) manner. Trees organise data hierarchically, mimicking a real-world tree structure.

In summary, Developers can effectively store, retrieve, and manipulate data by selecting the proper data structure, which improves the functionality and speed of their software applications.

4. Control Flows and loops

Control flow determines the order in which instructions are executed. Loops, such as "for" and "while," enable repetition, allowing you to perform actions iteratively.

Control flows enable programmers to decide and manage the program's execution route based on criteria. For instance, "if-else statements" allow for the execution of various actions in response to specific conditions. 

Contrarily, loops repeatedly execute a sequence of instructions up until a predetermined condition is satisfied. They aid in automating repetitive processes and iterating over data sets. 

Common types of loops include "the for loop", which iterates a specific number of times, and "the while loop", which repeats as long as a condition is true. 

5. Functions and Modularisations

Functions are reusable fragments of code that carry out particular tasks. They aid in dissecting complicated programs into smaller portions, streamlining and improving the organisation of the code. Functions accept input, carry out processes, and provide output. They make it possible to reuse code, cut down on duplication, and improve the upkeep of software programs. 

Modularising your code in functions increases readability, encourages code reuse, and makes debugging easier.


10 Common Software Development Terminologies

1. Low code

Low code refers to a software development method enabling users to construct applications with little coding experience or training. The development process is made simpler by the visual, drag-and-drop interface it offers, which eliminates the need for labour-intensive manual coding.

2. Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

a software application that offers a full suite of tools, including a code editor, compiler, debugger, and project management capabilities, to enable software development in a single interface.

3. Cloud-based development

Cloud-based development refers to developing and deploying software applications using cloud computing resources. Instead of relying solely on local infrastructure, developers leverage remote servers and services provided by cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure.

Read: What is Cloud Computing? Definition, types, benefits, pros and cons to understand better what cloud-based development entails.

4. Application Programming Interface (API)

a collection of guidelines and procedures that permit several software programs to communicate with one another and interact, facilitating data interchange and functionality integration.

5. Bug

A programming error or vulnerability that leads to unexpected behaviour or inaccurate results from application software. Bugs are identified through testing and debugging processes and are fixed to improve the program's functionality.

6. Deployment

The process of releasing and installing a software application onto a server, computer, or device, making it available for use by end-users.

7. Repository

a central area for managing and storing project files and source code. It allows numerous developers to work together, keep track of changes, and keep the codebase under version control.

8. Version control

A program that keeps track of and maintains changes to source code across time, enabling developers to collaborate, go back in time, and combine code modifications from multiple contributors.

9. Debugging

The method of locating and resolving faults or problems in a software program by tracking and examining code execution, looking at variables, and employing tools.

10. Agile

An approach to software development that emphasises iterative and incremental development as well as flexibility, teamwork, and adaptation to produce high-quality Software in less time.

Agile Vs Waterfall Processes in Software Development

Agile and Waterfall are two contrasting approaches to software development. Waterfall follows a sequential, linear process where each phase (requirements gathering, design, development, testing, deployment) is completed one after the other. 

It emphasises detailed planning and documentation upfront. On the other hand, Agile is an iterative approach that focuses on collaboration, flexibility, and delivering incremental value. 

Agile breaks the development process into short iterations called sprints, where requirements, development, and testing happen concurrently. 

It also encourages adaptive planning, continuous feedback, and constant communication between developers and stakeholders. 

Agile allows flexibility and quicker response to changes, while Waterfall provides a more structured and predictable framework. 

Lastly, Agile is well-suited for projects with evolving requirements and frequent customer involvement, while Waterfall works better for projects with fixed requirements and clear deliverables.

Essential Programming Languages for Software Development

1. Javascript

It allows for dynamic information and interactivity on web pages for web development.

2. Python

Python is widely used in many fields, including web development, data analysis, and artificial intelligence. It is known for being easy to learn.

3. Swift

Swift is a cutting-edge and formidable language used to develop mobile apps for Apple devices because it was created specifically for iOS and macOS development.

4. Java

Java is a frequently used platform-independent language for creating enterprise-level applications because of its reliability and security features.

5. C++

C++ is a programming language frequently used in systems programming and game development. It is suitable for resource-intensive applications due to its high performance and low-level control.

6. PHP

Most of the internet is powered by PHP, primarily used for web development, particularly server-side programming.


HTML and CSS are necessary for creating web pages even though they are not programming languages in the classic sense. While CSS handles display and styling, HTML offers structure and content.

Learn about: Flutter VS React Native: Comparisons and Differences. Which is Better to Use in 2023?

8. Ruby

Ruby, well-known for its productivity and simplicity, is frequently used in web development frameworks like Ruby on Rails.

9. C#

Microsoft's C# programming language is used to create Windows apps, websites with ASP.NET, and video games with Unity.

10. Sql

SQL is essential for handling data storage, retrieval, and manipulation in software applications because it can be used to manage and query relational databases.

11. GO

Go, created by Google, is renowned for its simplicity, speed, and concurrency support. It is commonly used for building network services and scalable systems.


Software development forms the backbone of our digital world, enabling the creation of innovative applications that solve problems, drive digital transformation, and enhance user experiences. In this article, we explained the basics of software and the steps on how to get started on software development.

We also explored vital concepts such as algorithms and Logic, data structures, control flows and loops, functions and modularisation, and the importance of cloud-based development.

Additionally, we touched up on essential programming languages like JavaScript, Python, Java, and more, which serve as building blocks for creating diverse applications across different platforms.

While this article briefly introduces software development, it is essential for you to keep exploring and honing your skills in software development through continuous learning, hands-on practice, and staying updated with emerging technologies.

Related post

Recent Posts

Need help with a project?

Let's solve it together.