Front-End vs. Back-End Web Development

Last updated on June 8th, 2021 at 06:42 am

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Websites have become a crucial component for any business that seeks to thrive and stay competitive. As of June 2020, the number of websites has reached 1.7 billion.

Most websites are a result of UX/UI, front-end and back-end development. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what front-end and back-end developers do, and what sets them apart.

Front-End Development

A front-end developer is responsible for a website’s ‘look and feel’. This includes page and pictures loading time, navigation, texts, visual and sound effects, page layout, etc. To put it in a nutshell, the front-end is what you can see and interact with in your web browser.

An excellent front-end experience is essential to attract and retain users. It’s important to note that front-end development is different from web design, even though they both generally deal with the visual and interactive side of a website.

The design of front-facing aspects isn’t the area of specialization of a front-end developer; this is the job of a web designer, or more specifically, a user interface designer. A front-end developer is responsible for delivering functionality – they transform the design into a live, interactive website.

Languages and Tools

HTML, CSS, and JS are the main tools that front-end developers use. 


HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is a markup language that organizes web content in a way it can be shown by a web browser. It can be also used in conjunction with CSS, VBScript, and JS.


CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of web pages, including colors, layout, and fonts. It allows adapting the presentation to different types of devices. CSS is independent of HTML and can be used with any XML-based markup language. 


 JS (JavaScript) is a scripting language that is used in both front-end and back-end development. It enables dynamic website content creation and control – if you see a web page displaying interactive maps, animated 2D/3D graphics, scrolling video jukeboxes rest assured JavaScript is involved.

In addition to fluency in these languages, web developers need to have some extra knowledge in AngularJS, EmberJS, Bootstrap, Backbone, Foundation that ensure great-looking content, and libraries like jQuery and LESS, that package code into a more useful, time-saving form. 

Back-End Development

The back-end is usually called ‘server-side’ because the scripts are run not on the computer, but on the server that hosts the website and sends down the HTML code. In contrast to a front-end developer, a back-end developer defines the core computational logic.

To make things clear, a website’s backend is made of three parts: a database, an application, and a server. A back-end developer writes code that enables these components to work together to perform functions and send information to end-users.

Languages and Tools

It’s noteworthy that the route for back-end web development can be a bit less clear-cut as there are many programming languages to use. Thus, back-end developers have narrowed their choices down to the ones that suit a particular project best.

Since most of the websites are dynamic, there is a necessity to make a database function properly. There are many languages that are used in back-end development such as Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, NodeJS, etc. While every developer claim that their favorite language is the best, all of these languages help to solve specific problems. 


PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a back-end scripting language. It is used to build static or dynamic websites or web applications in retail and e-commerce, insurance, banking, logistics, education and governmental sector.


Ruby is an interpreted, general-purpose programming language. It’s used mostly for web app development in various spheres: e-commerce, media and entertainment, sporting&fitness, social networks, etc.


Python is a programming language that uses an object-oriented approach to help developers with writing clear and logical code for small and large-scale projects. It is utilized to build a wide range of websites and web applications, GUI applications, games, and many more. 


Java is a highly portable programming language. It is intended to let developers write once, run anywhere, which means a developer can create Java code on one system and run it on any other Java-enabled system without any adjustment.

To manage low-level back-end tech details, developers employ libraries and frameworks like Django for Python, Rail for Ruby, Symphony for PHP, etc. 

The Difference Between Back-End and Front-End: To Put It Simple

If you still can’t get your head around the two concepts, here are a few examples to help you with that. Let’s say you open a Facebook page. Its back-end determines how your friends’ posts will be shown in the timeline while its front-end displays this information via the interface.

Or imagine you open Google Maps to get somewhere. Once you enter your starting point and destination, your search query is sent to the back-end that is run on Google’s servers. The back-end defines the most efficient routes and sends them back to you. The front-end receives this information and shows it on your map.

Full-Stack Development

It’s believed that the role of a full-stack developer was popularized some years ago by Facebook’s engineering department. The idea is that once a developer becomes full-stack, they start working with both the front-end and back-end development.

Full-stack developers can be seen as generalists. They are expected to know every level of web development works. They have to be efficient in contributing to the frontend, backend, databases, and also ship the project using various dev-ops tools.

Bottom Line

Although front-end and back-end generally perform different roles, one thing’s for certain: they are both essential to make a website work. In the modern world, there’s not really an industry standard for what’s always in the front-end and what’s always in the back-end and developers often need some cross-discipline knowledge.

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