Websites: Understanding Front-end vs Back-end development
Rebecca McIntyre
Head of Operations
12 May 21

When it comes to websites you will hear concepts like front end vs back-end development which are two of the most popular terms used. They are two of the most fundamental parts when it comes to web development.

Front-end development also called “client-side” programming, is what happens in the browsers. It is everything the user sees and interacts with.

Back-end development, also called “server-side” programming, happens on the server and the database. It’s the machinery that works behind the scenes to power those fancy features user interact with on the client side.

The Role

Both these features play a crucial role in web development and although they have their fair share of differences, they are like two sides of the same coin. Front-end is all about the visual aspects of the website that users can see and experience. The back-end is everything that happens in the background and is the enabler for the frontend web experience.

The Developer

The web designer is the most common job title for the frontend web development and the role of a web designer is to design and rebuild websites keeping the visual aspects in mind. Backend developers are the ones who make sure the data and systems requested by the frontend application or software are efficiently delivered. Backend developers handle everything that happens in the background.


A web designer doesn’t deal with the code. In fact, they are responsible of covering all aspects of building and redesigning websites that will feature both visually appealing elements and a user-friendly design. The role of a frontend developer is to create an environment that the user can see and touch with the help of a combination of several tools including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

The backend web development is the combination of development and maintenance of core functional logic of a software application. In simple terms, backend developers write code to make sure everything works fine at the frontend. They tend to spend more time figuring out logics and implementing algorithms than the web designers to ensure the website functions properly. It’s the brain of a website. The essentials of backend web development include languages such as Java, Ruby, Python, PHP, .Net, etc.

The Basics of Front-End Tools & Technology

Some of the core technologies used in front-end web development include:

HTML: The organiser – this is how every site on the web is organised, so its the one that cannot be without in front end development
JavaScript: The Multitasker – Javascript is more than just language – it’s the entire ecosystem that spans frameworks, task runners, server-side development, and more.
CSS: The Stylist: Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is how developers add styling and effects to a website. Styles can be added globally, then layered on without changing the fundamental styling that gets applied to the whole site
UI and UX Design: Bringing the Front-end to life. This is the design aspect of the website. UX design refers to the term “user experience design”, while UI stands for “user interface design”. Both elements are crucial to a website and work closely together.

The Basics of Back-End Tools Technology

Some of the core technologies used in back-end web development include:

Language and Frameworks: a variety of programming languages and frameworks are involved in building the software also known as the back-end.
Frameworks are libraries of pre-written code with a pre-imposed structure that a back-end developer can use according to the requirements and needs
Programming language is a superset of scripting languages like Ruby, Java, Python, PHP, Perl, Erlang, and Node.js which can be used to write instructions for execution.
Web Servers: computer programs that store, process, and deliver web pages to the users.
Database Management Systems: A Database Management System (DBMS) is a collection of programs that enables its users to access a database, manipulate, interpret and represent data. MySQL is the world’s most popular open-source relational database.
Local Development Environments: All back-end developers will swear by the importance of a local test environment. The advantage of using a local site that’s visible only to you gives you the liberty to try codes and experiments before the site goes live.
Website Performance Testers: In the digital age, the average attention span of a human being is a mere 8 seconds. Therefore, the speed at which a site loads influences site traffic to a huge extent. Even a one-second delay can make a customer bid farewell to your site. 

Summary of Front-End vs Back-End Development

While both front-end and back-end form the basis of how a website works, they have their fair share of differences. Here is a summary of the differences

Front-end refers to the client-side of the application.Back-end refers to the server-side of the application
.It is the part of the website users can see and interacts with.It constitutes everything that happens behind the scenes.
It typically includes everything that attributes to the visual aspects of websites.It generally includes a web server that communicates with a database to serve requests that the front-end presents.
It forms the basis of what users can touch and experience on their web browsers.It is the brain of the website that is never visible to the end-users.
The essentials of front-end web development include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.The essentials of back-end development include ruby, Python, Java, .Net