Back end vs front end web development: The key differences
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Back end vs front end web development: The key differences

As a consumer, there are two elements to a website, one you see and one you don’t see. This is also paramount to know if you’re looking to develop a website for your business and build an online presence.

However, if you’ve had zero experience doing this before or even tried to create a high-converting website for your product or service-based business, you still may not know the difference between the two, making it difficult to succeed.

That’s why, in this article, we’re going to compare back end vs front end web development so you have a clearer picture of how to strategise when making both of them as optimal as possible for your users.


What is front-end web development?

In relation to what front-end web development is, this refers to the process of creating the visual and interactive elements of a website that a user can see and interact with directly when they enter your website from their phone, laptop, or any other device. 

If you look closer at what it involves, front-end web development uses a variety of technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to design and build the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of a website.

HTML is used to put all of the pages on your website in an optimal structure for each user that visits it. Essentially, by defining headings, placing paragraphs in content, optimising links, including relevant images, and many more, you will be in a much better position to market to your audience.

CSS is responsible for styling and controlling the layout, colours, fonts, and overall aesthetic of web pages rather than the content structure, meaning it is more of a creative process. 

JavaScript, on the other hand, is more of a technical aspect of what your customers experience. It is a programming language that adds interactivity to websites, allowing features such as forms, GIFs, and any other dynamic content updates to be added to the front end of your site.


What does it take to be a front-end developer?

In order to be an all-around, accomplished front-end developer and software engineering expert, there are a number of skills that you need to have. Let’s uncover each of these so you get a better understanding of what the day-to-day responsibilities would look like:

  • HTML/CSS: If you are looking for a front-end developer job, you need to have knowledge of both HTML (hypertext markup language) for content structure and CSS (cascading style sheets) for styling a website.
  • JavaScript: You must be technically proficient when using JavaScript so you can code the programming languages for each visually pleasing content element on your site. 
  • Responsive Design: You must know how to create responsive websites, allowing your website to be adaptable to various screen sizes and devices.
  • Web Performance Optimisation: As a developer, you must have the skill set to improve your site's speed and efficiency.
  • Browser Developer Tools: A web developer must know how to debug and troubleshoot using browser developer tools.
  • Communication: Being on the client side of development when working remotely, a core skill that you must have is excellent communication when collaborating with a web designer, back-end developers, and, of course, clients. 
  • Front-end web developers must stay updated on each growing web technology in order to develop relevant, modern, and engaging user experiences.


What is back-end web development?

Backend web development is the work that you don’t see on the website. Instead, it focuses on the server-side components of a website or web application. Whether this is managing data, processing any requests, or making sure the functionality of the website is high quality, it works with server languages such as Python, Ruby, PHP, or Java and databases to make this happen. 

A good example of what your back end can do is pull data, such as order confirmations or tracking numbers, and send them straight to your customers when they’ve purchased from your website.

Back-end development also handles security and user authentication, which guarantees that you are protected when accessing or publishing your site. While front-end development works with the user interface and presentation, back-end development handles the underlying infrastructure that powers a website or web application.

What does it take to be a back-end developer?

While some of the skills of a back-end developer carry over from front-end web development, there is a whole different skill set that you’d have to have as a back-end developer when working with the back end of a site:

  • You have to be skilled with server languages such as Python, Ruby, Java and PHP
  • Back-end developers need to be proficient when it comes to fixing website issues (debugging and troubleshooting)
  • You have to have great communication skills with the front-end developers to create the best overall website experience
  • You have to be able to ensure data protection and user authentication are protected


Back-end development and front-end web development: Looking at the main differences

Regarding the main difference between front-end web development and back-end web development, a front-end developer will only work on the visual and functional parts of a website that a user can see, whereas back-end developers focus on the behind-the-scenes infrastructure that the user can’t see but rather can feel. 

However, if you look at them side by side, rather than just looking at what their job role is, there are some noticeable differences in the people they work with, the programming languages they use, and the frameworks they use to get efficient work done. 


Who do they work with?

As you look at the people that they work with, they differ in some regards but also have similarities. While front-end developers work with back-end developers, web designers, and clients/customers, a back-end developer will typically work with front-end developers and web designers and not talk to customers or clients. 


The programming languages they use

In terms of the software that front-end and back-end developers use, where front-end developers use software such as HTML, CSS and Javascript, back-end developers will work with programming languages like Java, Ruby, Python, etc.


The Frameworks they use

In terms of the frameworks both developers use, if you work on the front end, you will often use Bootstrap, SASS, jQuery, and more, whereas working as a back-end developer will encourage frameworks like Spring, CakePHP, Django, etc. 

If you want more advice on how to improve your website’s front or back-end web development, you can speak with our team today to see how we can take your website to the next level. Book a discovery call with us below.