Front End vs Backend Developer Definition, Purposes, and Jobs
If you’re interested in pursuing web development, but you aren’t sure whether to be a front end developer vs backend developer, this article will guide you through the differences between them. You’ll learn about the differences in skill requirements, programming languages, job duties, and other details that differentiate front end vs backend web development.
Web development is the process of building a web page or website for public or private access. It requires different technologies, tools, functions, and programming languages to create an end-to-end website. Depending on the size of the web development project, an organization might employ one web developer or hundreds of web developers.
Within larger organizations, it’s common for multiple departments to collaborate on web development projects. These departments will typically include front end developers, backend developers, and full stack developers. To learn the different responsibilities of front end vs backend web development, read through the article below.
Front End vs Backend Development
When considering front end vs backend web development and their respective tasks, you can think of the former as the visual side and the latter as the inner workings of a website. The difference between a front end and backend developer is that a front end developer focuses on the user-facing side, considering things like responsive design and UX design.
Meanwhile, a backend developer is more concerned with the structure of a website and setting up the proper systems. Below, we go into further detail about front end vs backend web development to help you understand the different roles.
What Is Front End Web Development?
Front end software development connects designs and technologies together. The tools and techniques involved in designing dynamic websites change constantly, so the developer needs to be aware of the latest technology and how the field is evolving.
As far as the user interface is concerned, the buck stops with front end developers. They have to make sure that the site design is the same across all platforms and screen sizes. A front end developer must be creative, artistic, and technically proficient at the same time.
What Is Backend Web Development?
Backend web development concerns the ways in which a website functions behind the scenes. Backend developers write code that communicates database information to the web browser. They also have to make sure that the end-users get the services they request on time and without any trouble.
Backend programming can be either object-oriented or functional. Object-oriented programming focuses on coding specific objects. Java, .Net, and Python are some popular examples of OOP languages. With functional languages, the coding process revolves around applying and composing functions. Examples include SQL, F#, and R.
A backend web developer works with web development languages, databases, servers, and APIs. Backend development requires advanced programming skills and knowledge, as well as a basic understanding of front-end technology like HTML and CSS.
The Difference Between Front End and Backend Development
Front end and backend development require different skills and programming languages. The table below defines backend vs front end web development and includes the skills and coding languages required for each job.
Front end and backend web development each requires a different set of skills. While front end development is focused on search engine optimization, version control, and web performance optimization skills, backend development requires skills in data structures, algorithms, and database caching. Listed below are detailed descriptions of the different fields.
|Front end development
|Front end development involves developing the user-side of a web page or website. It also includes ensuring a website’s layout is compatible with various devices.
|Backend development, also known as server-side development, involves developing the functionality that is accessed by users.
|Purposes include search engine optimization (SEO), version control, web performance optimization (WPO), debugging, testing, responsive mobile design
|Purposes include data structures and algorithms, application programming interface (APIs), servers, database caching, backend frameworks
Front End Development Skills
Below, we have detailed several prominent front end developer skills. Through these skills, you will be able to see the difference between front end vs backend web development. From SEO or responsive design, these aspects directly affect the user interface of a site. To learn more about the necessary skills for front end developers, read through the section below.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process used to attract as many website or web page visitors as possible. This is often done by strategically including keywords, optimized title tags, and optimized file names. SEO is a vital skill for front end development because it ensures users can easily find the web page or website through a search engine.
Having skills in version control is essential for the front end development process. Front end developers rely on version control to manage amendments on websites, software, applications, and programs. With version control, front end developers can track their changes and identify major edits in graphic design processes.
Web Performance Optimization (WPO)
While SEO ensures users are attracted to and can easily find a particular website or page, WPO ensures users enjoy their experience once they’ve arrived. This is an important front end developer skill because it ensures smooth and fast operation, easy navigation, and device adaptation. WPO uses a variety of tools and methods to address the variables that prevent users from having an optimized experience.
Working with any programming language means you have to frequently test and debug your code. Front end developers must know how to debug code to resolve issues related to interface or interaction designs. As a result, front end developers are required to test design elements to develop a seamless experience for users.
Responsive Mobile Design
Responsive mobile design refers to the process of ensuring a website or web page is compatible with multiple layouts. More specifically, front end developers are responsible for ensuring a website or page adjusts in terms of size and usability for a variety of devices. This ensures the website or page is easy to access and navigate, regardless of the type of device.
Backend Development Skills
Contrary to the skills used in front end development, backend developer skills all center around the structure, data, and systems of a website. Backend engineer skills include things like data structures and technologies such as Apache and Nginx. In the list below, you can learn more about the most important skills for backend developers.
Data Structures and Algorithms
Algorithms can be thought of as detailed instructions, while data structures are the locations that store and manage data. It’s important for backend developers to have skills in both because of how intertwined they are in the backend development process. Algorithms organize, locate, and add data to data structures.
Application Programming Interface (APIs)
APIs are integral components of backend web development, as these tools allow developers to access backend services. APIs offer real-time data tracking and saving, user management, and access to analytical data. Sometimes, developers don’t have to create server coding and can implement enhanced functionality because of APIs.
Backend developers must know how to work with different servers. Different backend projects will require you to work on various servers, and while these servers are similar, each one is slightly unique. A few of the servers include Nginx, IIS, and Apache.
Having skills in database and cache is just as vital as understanding servers because these two components are present in every backend development project. Database caching allows flexibility and scalability when processing data, which notably improves the performance of your applications.
With any backend programming language you choose to work with, you must know its framework. There are a wide variety of frameworks, all of which can help you correctly configure an application. Frameworks also allow you to add unique features to your application and optimize usage.
Front End vs Backend Languages
What Is a Full Stack Developer?
A full stack developer is a professional that has the skills to fully develop a web page or application. A full stack developer has the combined skills and responsibilities of front end and backend developers. They are required to be fully equipped and skilled in both ends, as they assume the roles of both front end and backend developers.
You need to have a wide range of skills and experience in front end and backend development to work as a full stack developer. The minimum requirements for this position are typically a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field, in addition to at least a year of experience.
Full Stack Developer Skills
Full stack developers need to be well-versed in front end and backend programming languages, web architecture, fundamental design principles, and database storage. Other full stack developer skills include Git and Github, REST, and HTTP skills and experience.
Additionally, full stack developers need a variety of soft skills. Just as backend and front end developers are required to communicate and collaborate with development teams, departments, and clients, full stack developers can expect the same responsibilities. Since full stack is the combination of both front end and backend development, full stack web developer skills cover a range of technologies.
Which Type of Web Developer Should You Become?
If you’re interested in pursuing a web development career but you aren’t sure whether to become a front end or backend developer, the following lists might be able to help. Listed below are some of the criteria related to each position.
Consider becoming a front end developer if you:
- Enjoy problem-solving
- Have critical thinking skills
- Are detail-oriented
- Are easily adaptable
- Are creative
Consider becoming a backend developer if you:
- Are a fast learner
- Love solving analytical problems that require complex thinking
- Enjoy working on a team
- Have excellent management skills
- Have strong communication skills
Front End vs Backend Development Salaries
Front end and backend developers are both compensated with a comfortable salary. However, due to the nature of the role, backend developers tend to have greater earning potential. According to PayScale, the average annual salary for front end developers is $78,158 per year, while backend developers earn an average of $89,280 per year.
Both salaries vary based on years of practical experience, location, job title, and the organization. However, when comparing a front end developer’s salary vs a backend developer’s salary, the former is typically lower. That being said, front end web developer salaries can still reach upwards of six figures with the right experience and employer.
Web Development Jobs: At a Glance
|User Interface Designer
*This statistic falls under Web Developers and Digital Designers on Bureau of Labor Statistics
**This statistic falls under Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers on Bureau of Labor Statistics
Front End Development Jobs
Mobile developers work in front end development environments to create responsive mobile applications. In this type of front end engineering job, professionals are responsible for ensuring websites and pages are adaptable and can be easily navigated on mobile devices. Mobile developers often work for tech and entertainment companies, and they’re usually required to have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.
UI designers create optimal user experience through design patterns, interactive elements, and attractive styles. They work closely with UX designers and developers to ensure their outcome is consistent with the client’s vision. UI designers often enroll in bootcamps or junior colleges to qualify for this career.
CSS developers share many of the same responsibilities as any other front end developer job, but they specialize in CSS and write in HTML. They solve problems and create visual design elements using specific languages and skills. Typically, CSS developers are required to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field.
A web designer works with many tools, practices, and functions to polish the visual aspects of a website. Web designers encompass skills like UI design, graphic design, search engine optimization (SEO), and programming to fulfill their duties.
Most web designers develop the required knowledge and skills through bootcamps, online courses, or community colleges. After graduating from these programs, you can get an entry-level front end developer job as a web designer.
Backend Development Jobs
A software engineer uses modern technologies and server-side logic to create software for computers, programs, and applications. Organizations of all sizes and industries employ software engineers, as it is the most common backend developer job. The minimum requirement for software engineering is a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Engineering. However, many software engineers hold master’s degrees.
Java developer is a type of backend engineer job in which professionals write, test, debug, and maintain code in Java. You can find Java backend developer jobs throughout a variety of industries and organizations, as Java continues to be one of the most popular programming languages. Generally, a Java developer job requires a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field.
Python developers are backend developers who specialize in Python. Since Python is a common server-side scripting language, many Python developers are employed through various businesses. Python is considered one of the easiest programming languages to learn, which is why many Python developers become fully qualified through bootcamp programs.
As a software developer, you’ll design and develop software using a variety of programming languages. Big tech companies like HubSpot, Amazon, and IBM rely on software developers to design and develop software according to set requirements. Most companies require their software developers to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science.
Web developers participate in the server-side development process for websites and web pages. This position deals with all the backend frameworks, database systems, code libraries, and APIs related to the website or page. You can enroll in a bootcamp program, online course, or associate degree program to meet the requirements of this profession.
Is It Better to Be a Front End or Backend Developer?
Ultimately, your career goals and interests should be the determining factors in whether you pursue front end or backend development. Backend development is best suited to people who enjoy working with technical components and solving complex problems. Alternatively, front end development requires creativity and attention to detail.
Although you can see some similarities when comparing front end vs backend web development, they also differ in significant ways. As the responsibilities and requirements differ between the two professions, so do the salaries. However, both professions include a high salary and a secure career. As such, they are both solid career paths.
Front End vs Backend Web Development FAQ
Though they are both rapidly growing fields, front end developers are more in demand than backend developers. This may be due to the fact that front end development requires more creative work so there is more room for professionals in the market and they can creatively distinguish themselves from one another.
Is front end development easy?
Front end development is not easy, as it is a highly technical field and requires programming knowledge. However, many people think that front end development is easy because it is more creative than backend development.
How long does it take to become a front end developer?
With the help of a bootcamp program, you can become a front end developer in as little as a couple of months. If you dedicate yourself to a program, you can graduate from a bootcamp with job-ready skills and begin working as a professional front end developer in three to six months.
How much do full stack web developers make?
Full stack web developers make an average salary of $80,211 per year, according to PayScale. However, this salary can vary widely with location, expertise, and the company that employs you. Typically, a full stack developer will earn more than a front end or backend developer.