Is web development a product-based or service-based field?

Posted on : by : Jimmy Dean

Can we classify web development as a product-based or service-based field? Does it depends on the perspective from which we view it? Or, are there specific categorizations for defining web development in either of these terminologies?

Currently in the industry, there is an ongoing debate about the correct categorization of web development. According to experts like Schwartz (2021), and Rauch (2021), the field is often straddled between being product-based and service-based. These debates often result in ambiguity and confusion among industry practitioners, especially for new players trying to solidify their business models. Given the inherent dynamics within web development, it is paramount to create a clear understanding of the field’s nature so that everyone involed can align their business strategies effectively.

In this article, you will learn about the various perspectives on how web development could be classified. The primary focus will be on the arguments made for both sides of the coin – whether it is a product-based or service-based field. We will delve into the intricate aspects distinguishing the two, providing clear examples and exploring the implications of each classification.

Ultimately, the article aims to demystify the debate, providing a comprehensive analysis of the issue while taking into account different contexts, applications, and practitioner insights. By the end, you will have a well-rounded perspective on the nature of web development in contemporary industry settings.

Definitions and The Essential Understanding of Web Development

Web development is essentially both a product-based and a service-based field.
Product-based web development refers to creating software, websites or applications that are typically sold or licensed to a client or a user. These are considered as tangible products that provide a comprehensive solution to a specific issue.
Service-based web development however, refers to the process of designing, creating and maintaining websites and web applications for clients as per their specific needs and requirements. This kind of work is highly custom and requires continuous work and updates as opposed to a one-time product.

Web Development: A Closer Look Into Its Product-based Aspects

Web Development as a Product

In the vast domain of the digital marketplace, web development is frequently perceived as a product-based component. This perspective stems from the fact that a website, once developed and launched, serves as a tangible good that businesses use to market their brand, products, or services. As a quintessential asset to any modern enterprise, a distinguishable, user-friendly, and responsive website can be considered a product in this context.

Companies invest in web development to acquire this ‘product’, a website with all its features like design, layout, and navigation. It’s akin to getting a shop built with all the furnishings and vitals in place— something that remains virtually entire and lies within one’s ownership post-purchase. There’s a market demand for such websites, and plenty of web developers and studios are ready to fulfill it.

Web Development as a Service

On the other hand, web development can also be viewed as a service. Here’s why: a website, no matter how intricately designed and developed, necessitates regular maintenance and updates to retain its relevance and functionality. This is where web development spins into the service-based aspect. Web developers continually interact with their clients, making necessary amendments and providing support as needed.

  • Regular updates and bug fixing
  • User experience enhancements
  • SEO optimizations
  • Adding new features as per the changing market dynamics

These activities are ongoing, demanding constant involvement from the developers. This consistent partnership between the clients and the developers to keep the website at its optimal performance is clearly service-oriented.

As such, web development truly straddles the line between product and service. It presents a unique interplay of both aspects, making it a definitive two-sided coin in the digital arena. It’s this duality that ensures web development continues to thrive, offering compelling opportunities for developers and dynamic solutions for businesses. It reinforces the idea that a website isn’t just a product that you buy, but an ongoing service that needs consistent care and professional handling.

Web Development and Service-Based Approaches: An In-depth Analysis

Defining The Paradox: A Dual Nature

Isn’t it fascinating to think that web development, as a multi-faceted facet of technology, functions both as a product-based and a service-based field? What makes this remarkable duality possible? The answer lies in the dynamic and flexible nature of the field. Web development, while clearly representing a service sector by nature, exhibits clear product-like characteristics. These software tools, plugins, and other material products that are often the outcomes of web development, encapsulate the product-oriented aspect of the field. Not only do web developers provide a service by creating and maintaining websites, but they also develop unique software solutions that can be sold as products on their own.

Unraveling the Complexity: The Pivotal Challenge

The main issue here is not just about considering web development as product-based or service-based field – it’s about recognizing and acknowledging the ability of this field to occupy both spaces simultaneously. Hence, acknowledging the dual nature that web development holds is crucial. The most common challenge is that often, businesses or even web developers themselves, get themselves too caught up on one aspect of the duality that they fail to capitalize on the other perfectly viable and profitable side. This can lead to missed opportunities and untapped potential. For example, a business may heavily invest in developing a niche software solution as a product and overlook potential clients seeking their web development services. On the flip side, a web development firm may spread itself too thin trying to offer all sorts of services and neglect opportunities to specialize in a particular product.

Navigating the Dual Stream: Success Stories

To demonstrate the successful exploitation of the product-service duality in the web development field, let’s consider some examples. Shopify, a renowned e-commerce company, started as a team of web developers providing a service. They recognized an opportunity to create a product – a simple-to-use ecommerce platform, which is now known by businesses worldwide. Another example is Yoast, a SEO plugin for WordPress, developed by a web development service company. This plugin dint just enhance the company’s services, it became a product in demand, thus tapping into the product aspect of the field.

These examples illustrate how businesses and individuals have successfully balanced the product-service duality in the web development field. The key takeaway is leveraging the strengths in both aspects to create a holistic and robust approach to web development, enabling one to access a wider range of opportunities.

The Intersection of Web Development: Comparing Product-based and Service-based Views

Deciphering the Complexities in Web Development

Have you ever pondered what makes Web Development so distinctive? The answer lies in its capacity to simultaneously function as both a product and a service. The validity of this statement roots from the comprehension that ‘product’ is the final output or artefact created by a web developer. This product can range from a simple informative blog to complex eCommerce platforms. On the other hand, ‘service’ refers to the act of building, customizing, and maintaining these web platforms for the clients. Thus, web development uniquely straddles between being a product-based and service-based industry, unlike many other professions.

Unravelling the Core Dilemma

However, this dual aspect of web development often leads to ambiguity in understanding its exact nature. The crux of the matter is, a majority of stakeholders don’t fully comprehend where the product ends and the service begins. This confusion can often lead to communication gaps between the developer and the client, leading to inefficient deliveries and dissatisfaction on both ends. For a client, the website or webpage is the tangible ‘product’ they require. But for a developer, the intangible ‘service’ of coding, tech stack selection, testing etc. is just as significant. The issue is further compounded by factors like the involvement of other services such as copywriting, SEO, UI/UX design which influence the rendering of the final ‘product’.

Illuminating the Path with Tactful Practices

In unravelling this complexity, some of the industry’s best practices can certainly light the way. The first and foremost is establishing effective communication. Developers and clients should lay down a clear demarcation between the product and service aspects of each project. This mutual agreement will ensure better coordination, leading to precise deliveries and client contentment. Secondly, the adoption of agile methodologies can significantly provide clarity to both developers and clients. Frequent iteration and consistent feedback can help to understand the product better and smoothen the service delivery process. Lastly, education plays a significant role. Developers should take the time to explain the intricacies of their work, the tech stacks used, the need for certain service processes. This facilitates an understanding of how a website’s ‘product’ aspect is inseparable from its ‘service’ components. These practices give a sense of assurance to the client while providing clear guidelines for developers to follow.


Looking at the intriguing world of web development, one cannot help but ponder, is it confined to a product or is it spanned over an array of services? The beauty of web development is its capability to exist and flourish in both streams; as a product-based field where developers build and sell software products, as well as a service-based realm where they offer their skills and knowledge to cater to a diverse range of client requirements. It is this dual function that makes web development an all-encompassing and flexible domain, proficient in lending its prowess to offer unique solutions to real-world problems.

Web development goes beyond the binary of product and service, embracing the fluidity that characterizes the digital environment. From creating simple websites to complex software applications, it has the potential to redefine the digital landscape. While standing on the brink of this profound realization, we invite you to embark on this enlightening journey with us. By following our blog, you will have the privilege of delving into the intricacies of web development and gain a comprehensive understanding of its wide-ranging applications.

In a universe that’s constantly evolving, you wouldn’t want to miss out on crucial updates and cutting-edge developments that could potentially revolutionize the industry. Anticipate and remain updated with our upcoming releases that promise to encapsulate these insightful aspects of web development. Stay ahead of the curve with enriching content that complies with web development trends, equipping you with the knowledge to comprehend, appreciate, and implement effective web development strategies. Remember, the key to mastering any field lies in continuous learning and curiosity. So, watch this space for more.



1. What is web development?

Web development refers to tasks related to creating websites for hosting via intranet or the internet. It includes aspects such as web design, content creation, and network security configuration among other tasks.

2. Is web development a product-based industry?

The web development industry can offer products such as templates, themes, or software tools, however, this is not its primary focus. Often, these products serve as tools to provide web development services.

3. Is web development a service-based industry?

Yes, web development is generally considered a service-based industry. Web developers mostly offer specialized services like website creation, maintenance, and reshaping to meet client needs.

4. Can a web development company be both product-based and service-based?

Yes, some web development companies offer both products and services. The products can be ready-made solutions or software, and the services can be custom development tasks which are tailored to the specific needs of a client.

5. What differentiates a product-based web development from a service-based web development?

In product-based development, a tangible item or software is created and sold on the market whereas in a service-based web development, the work is done based on the individual needs of clients. The main difference comes down to customization versus general application.