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What’s the Difference Between a Frontend and Backend Developer?

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What’s the Difference Between a Frontend and Backend Developer?

When browsing the internet, we come across websites and applications that consist mostly of the content we interact with in our searches. In fact, the social media platforms and e-commerce sites we visit daily are part of the complex web frameworks and technologies. But have you ever wondered how these websites are built and the technology behind them? That’s where frontend and backend developers come in.

Both roles play an integral part in web development; the final result is what we interact with daily on the internet. However, their roles, skill sets, and the tools they use are different. In simple terms, what we call the front end of a website is the user interface, while the back end is part of the website you don’t see. This guide will evaluate the key differences between frontend and backend developers and how they collaborate to create powerful web applications.

Frontend vs. Backend Developer: Side-By-Side Comparison

FrontendBackend
RolesThey combine design technology and programming to design web pages and effectively implement a website’s visual elements. They also fix bugs, maintain user interfaces, and create tools that boost site interaction.They create codes, manage server-side applications, and stores web pages customized with user data.
Programming Languages      JavaScript, CSS, and  HTMLPython, Ruby, PHP, and Java
Libraries and Frameworks   jQuery, Bootstrap, SASS, EmberJS,  AngularJSZend, Django, CakePHP, Spring, , Symfony, Laravel.
Additional Skills           Graphic design applications, SEO principles, communication, creativityProblem-solving, familiarity with servers,  logical reasoning, communication
Average Salary           $78,400 annually$80,713 annually
Works with    Backend developers,  business stakeholders, clients, management,Frontend developers, business stakeholders,  management

Frontend vs. Backend Developer: What are the Differences?

If you are just starting in web development, choosing between front-end and back-end programming can be challenging. Both sides have very different roles, but they must work together for the website to function. We will explore the differences between the two sides to help you pursue the one that suits you.

What is a Frontend Developer?

Frontend developers are the people involved in ensuring visitors can access and interact with a web page. They combine design technology and programming to implement a website’s visual elements effectively. Frontend developers also fix bugs, maintain user interfaces, and create tools that boost site interaction.

Overall, front-end developers are the people behind website visibility and responsiveness. Frontend developers use programming languages like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS to create structures, styles, and advanced interactability features for the smooth running of websites.

What is a Backend Developer?

Backend developers specialize in the server side of the website. They focus on architecture, maintaining databases, and data and application integration. Backend developers use programming languages, including Java, PHP, and C++. These developers also use complex frameworks to build fast, responsive, secure websites. 

java
Backend developers use programming languages like Java, PHP, and C++ to build fast and secure websites. 

©Funtap/Shutterstock.com

When a user enters a URL, clicks a link, or submits a form, the browser connects to a web server, a computer running software that delivers web pages and images. When a web server receives a request for a source, it needs to respond with that resource. Programming webservers’ response with the right resources is the domain of backend developers.

Before a web page deliver resources to a browser, a web application written by a backend developer fills that page with data. The data is pulled from a database, a separate program that stores and retrieves data. Backend developers need to understand the programming language of the web application and the database where the data is stored. 

Roles

Front-end developers deal with how things work. That is the content, structure, and images. The backend, on the other hand, deals with how things look. As a front-end developer, you will implement the website layout and build interactive elements. Other typical tasks include carrying out usability tasks, fixing bugs, maintaining software workflows, and developing tools that improve user interaction with the website.

The backend developer creates codes, manages server-side applications, and stores web pages customized with user data. Backend developers work closely with product owners to understand the project’s requirements. Their main roles include creating, managing databases, and building and integrating APIs.

Programming Languages

The main programming languages for front-end developers include Javascript, HTML, and CSS. HTML adds content to a webpage, such as buttons, images, and text. CSS or cascading styling sheets is used to style a web page and make it look good by letting you adjust colors, spacing, and sizes. Javascript is what makes a web page interactive.

Backend programming languages are Javascript, sometimes called node.js, Python, Ruby, and Java. Each backend programming works with frameworks like Expressjs for Javascript, Python, Django Ruby on Rails, and Java Spring.

Javascript code
The main programming languages for front-end developers include Javascript, HTML, and CSS.

©iStock.com/Yurich84

Skills

Frontend developers are in charge of bringing visual elements to a website as well as interactive elements such as navigation, patterns, and anything else that improves overall usability. HTML, CSS, and Javascript are frequently used to ensure the site’s visual side operates well. So it’s good to know these languages, and having a good understanding of Javascript frameworks and libraries is also essential.

Other general skills include a good grasp of frontend programming languages, the ability to create a responsive design, the knowledge of testing and debugging, and an understanding of frontend development tools like automation, content management systems, version control systems, APIs, and frameworks.

Backend developers deal with backend programming languages like Java, Ruby, and Python to make web pages and applications operate. Knowing commonly used languages and frameworks like Django, node.js, Expresjs, and many others is vital. Other important skills include database management, framework utilization, programming knowledge of accessibility and security compliance, understanding the requirements, and ensuring data consistency and integrity.

Salary

Backend developers are often the most paid compared to front-end developers. In the US, a frontend developer earns around $78,400 annually, while a backend developer earns an average of $80,713 annually. However, these salaries vary based on experience and specialty.

Frontend vs. Backend Developer: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • To be able to do frontend development, you need a good eye for design because you will be working with visual elements of an application
  • Frontend development is more customer-focused, while backend development is more about performance, maintenance, and scalability.
  • The role of backend developers is to ensure they build a robust application that can cope with a large number of users.
  • Frontend developers need to learn new frameworks quite regularly, while the fundamentals don’t change for backend development.
  • Backend development uses frameworks and libraries like frontend, but it doesn’t tend to impact your code base as it does for frontend developers.

Frontend vs. Backend Developer: Which One Should You Pick?

You need to pick the path that will use your skillset the best. If you are artistic, you are better off as a front-end developer. If you are more logical, you might be better off as a backend developer. You essentially need to focus on becoming an expert at whichever path you pick, and then the pay will come.

As long as you enjoy what you are doing, that matters most, and you need to pick what will be best for you. Whether you pick frontend or backend development, it’s worth learning about the other side and all the different areas of software development so you can actually create something useful.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a frontend developer?

A frontend developer is a type of web developer who specializes in creating and implementing the visual and interactive elements of a website or web application that are seen and interacted with by users. They work on the client side of web development and use languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create the layout, design, and functionality of a website. A front-end developer must have a strong understanding of user experience (UX) design principles and must work closely with designers to create visually appealing and intuitive websites that are responsive, accessible, and optimized for different devices and browsers.

What is a backend developer?

A backend developer is a type of web developer who specializes in creating and maintaining the server side of web applications. They are responsible for designing, building, and maintaining the database architecture, server-side logic, and APIs that enable the front end of a web application to function. They work with programming languages such as PHP, Python, Ruby, and Java, as well as frameworks and technologies like Node.js, Django, Flask, and Laravel. A backend developer must have a strong understanding of databases, server architecture, and web application security, and must work closely with frontend developers and other members of the development team to ensure that the backend functions seamlessly with the front end.

What is the main difference between frontend and backend developers?

Front-end developers deal with how things work. That is the content, structure, and images. The backend, on the other hand, deals with how things look. They build and maintain the technology that powers the front end.

What are the three 3 core technical skills required by a front end developer?

Front-end developers require a good grasp of front-end programming languages: JavaScript, CSS, and  HTML. Other important technical skills for a front-end developer include knowledge of web performance optimization, browser compatibility, and accessibility standards. Additionally, a front-end developer should be comfortable working with design tools like Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, or Figma.

How do I choose between frontend and backend?

If you are artistic, you are better off as a front-end developer. If you are more logical, you might be better off as a backend developer

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