Difference between front-end and back-end development

What is the difference between front-end and back-end development?

by Christian Bagnimbo on 11/10/2021

Updated at 9/02/2023

When we talk about web development, we often hear the terms "back-end development" and "front-end development". Although it is quickly understood by a web developer, it remains a mystery for the uninitiated. In this article , Oshara, the website development agency in Montreal will explain everything there is to know about these two terms.

What is front-end development?

Front-end development is the coding that allows us to display the final rendering that we have on the screen. All the elements we see when visiting a website are produced by the front-end developer. 

In general, the front-end developer is not the one who takes care of the conception of the design of the site. Although sometimes he does. Indeed, the latter receives a model of the site in the form of an image from a designer. The front-end developer will use this image to create the visual of the site using different web languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and others. 

HTML (HyperText Markup Language ) is the basic language for formatting web pages. It allows you to write hypertext, but also to add multimedia resources to content. But beware, HTML is not a programming language but rather a markup language because it is used to frame the various elements present on a web page (titles, paragraphs, images, titles, ...) with tags.

CSS ( Cascading Style Sheets) is a computer language used on the Internet for formatting HTML files and pages. It also allows you to color text, better position elements with borders and margins and even create small animations. 

JavaScript is a scripting language primarily used in interactive web pages and as such is an essential part in the development of web applications . It allows you to create more dynamic content or to create complex animations (images, videos) on a web page. This helps the pages to have better responsiveness and interactivity because you can create a carousel of images with JavaScript, move elements according to the position of the screen on the site, program a game on the site and lots of still others.

The list of languages used by front-end developers does not stop at these three, there are also many others such as Angular , Vue , Swift , React , jQuery and others. Thanks to all these languages, the front end developer gives a face to your website. However, designing a website does not stop there. It will be necessary to add for example to add functionalities on your site such as for example the purchase by credit card on an ecommerce site . This is where back-end development often comes in.

What is back-end development?

Back-end development is the code behind what you see on screen. It is he who makes it possible to add functionalities and to define how the site must behave when an Internet user clicks on such or such site.

To show the difference between back-end and front-end development, let's take the example of a car. In this case, the body, the seats, the steering wheel and everything that is seen at first sight represents the front-end development. On the other hand, the engine, the electronics and everything that hides behind the hood and the bodywork represent back-end development. The web developer does behind-the-scenes but essential work.

With this example, you clearly see that back-end development is very important for a site. Without it, the site will not work as expected, especially if you want to have a dynamic site. In other words, back-end development is essential for all dynamic sites. The back-end developer often uses programming languages like PHP , JavaScript , Kotlin, C++, C#, Java , Python and others. 

In addition, the development attacks a lot of the server and the database. The developer sets up the programming at the server level in order to execute the action corresponding to each click made by Internet users.

To go further, in addition to the installation of the server which allows the hosting of all the information and the codes, the back-end development requires the management of the databases (MySQL, Oracle…). Indeed, with dynamic sites, the pages are not directly displayed as they are coded, but they are generated from a script and a database. 

To conclude, we can therefore say that Back-end development consists of communicating between the server, the website and the database, using computer programming. 

However, the role of a developer is not limited there because it intervenes during the creation of a website but also but also throughout its existence. He will have to do updates, do maintenance , correct errors, add features, etc.

Complementarily of front-end development and back-end development

Front-end and back-end developments are different but are complementary. Indeed, without the back-end developer, the result of the front-end is comparable to an image or video that we watch without being able to interact. In the other direction, without the front-end, the back-end developer cannot manage to give aesthetics to the site. the site will not be convenient to use. Although there are features, the Internet user will not know where to click to access this or that feature.

Some examples of complementarities

  • If you plan to develop a custom website or a custom web application , it is recommended to do the front-end development separately from the back-end. 

Front-end development should be done first to see if the site design meets expectations and provides a good user experience. After this step, we can call on the back-end development to add the functionalities, set up the database and others.

  • If you develop a site with Wordpress , it is possible to use page builders such as Elementor or Divi. With these builders, it is easier to build your site without a front-end developer. On the other hand, the back end developer must have some front-end notions. Indeed, these page builders already have tools already developed by front-end developers that just require a drag and drop and some changes in the settings to get the desired result. 

Finally, note that these are two different professions, which do not use the same programming languages on a daily basis or the same skills. However, there are some developers called full-stack developers. A full stack developer is a developer who has both skills. That is to say, he is both a front-end developer and a back-end developer. It is very useful in a web agency because this profile knows what it has to do to simplify the code on both sides. 

That's it, you know all about the differences and complementarities between front-end and back-end development. Do not hesitate to call on our web agency to help you with all types of web development services .

Christian Bagnimbo

Christian is a project manager and SEO specialist for Oshara. A true geek and digital lover, he loves to share his passion for digital marketing, technology and everything that goes with it.

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