a software developer looking at computer designs. Front End vs. Back End Development

What Is the Difference Between Front End and Backend Development?

Are you interested in a career in web development and programming? If yes, you may be wondering about the differences between front end and backend development. Is it better to work as a front end, backend, or full stack developer? Who makes the most money, a full stack, front end, or backend developer? Which one of these careers is right for me?

In this guide, we’ll answer all your questions and shed some light on the different aspects of web development, including a comparison between the different types of web developers and other career-related information, such as job roles, job outlook, and average salaries.

What Is Web Development?

Web development encompasses all activities involved in the creation of websites and applications for use on the Internet. It entails designing and managing a website using programming, scripting, and markup languages to ensure optimal performance, speed, and user experience.

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Websites may appear simple, but they are the result of a complex combination of various programming languages, working in sync to create dynamic web applications. Web developers know how to use HTML, JavaScript, Python, PHP, and CSS to ensure that a website functions optimally.

What Are the Different Types of Web Development?

There are three different types of web development, which are front end, backend, and full stack web development. Below is a brief rundown

  • Front End Web Development. This is the aspect of web development that deals with the website’s user interface. A front end web developer builds the features and functions that the user interacts with.
  • Backend Web Development. This part of web development is responsible for things that users do not see. It deals with the website’s server. 
  • Full Stack Web Development. This career path incorporates both front end and backend development.

What Is Front End Web Development?

Front end web development deals with the user interface of the website, the part of the website that the user sees and interacts with. It is the part of the web development process where the developer designs and implements the visual aspects of the website, such as buttons, layouts, images, graphics, and animation.

Front end developers work in web development teams alongside UI/UX designers to bring visual designs to life and ensure the website runs smoothly. To create the architecture that determines the user’s experience, they develop everything you see on your computer browser, including fonts, colors, menus, and sliders.

Front End Development Skills

To thrive in their roles, front end developers must have a wide variety of skills, which encompass hard skills, soft skills, and technical know-how. Below are the most important skills that someone in a front end developer job should have in their toolkit. 

  • Proficiency in popular programming languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • Knowledge of TypeScript and front end frameworks and libraries such as jQuery, Angular, Backbone, Ember, Vue, and React
  • Practical experience with CSS preprocessors, RESTful Services, and APIs
  • UX/UI design, responsive design, and mobile design skills
  • Testing and debugging skills
  • Knowledge of cross-browser compatibility
  • Knowledge of content management systems 
  • Expertise with Git and other version control systems
  • Soft skills such as problem-solving skills, creativity skills, and teamwork skills

Front End Development Programming Languages

If you want to start a career in front end development, you must first master the three primary front end languages, which are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These languages serve as the foundation of front end development.

  • HTML. HTML, which stands for HyperText Markup Language, is used to design the front end portion of the website. It determines the structure and content of web pages. 
  • CSS. Short for Cascading Style Sheets, this language works together with HTML to modify the design, style, and appearance of web pages. CSS enhances the visual appeal of websites.
  • JavaScript. JavaScript is a programming language that is used to add interactivity and dynamic content to websites. Once you learn JavaScript, you will be able to enhance the functionality of websites and improve the user experience.

Front End Development Jobs and Salaries

Specialization in front end development can lead to various job roles within the tech industry. Some of these roles may require graphic design expertise, as front end development is concerned with the visual aspects and dynamic elements of websites. The table below provides some examples of front end development jobs and salaries.

Job Title Salary
Front End Engineer $111,377
UI Developer $107,681
Front End Developer $94,639
HTML/CSS Developer $87,605
Front End Web Designer $55,258

How to Become a Front End Developer

The first step towards becoming a front end developer is to pursue coding education to learn the necessary technologies, languages, libraries, and frameworks. Luckily, you do not have to attend a four-year degree program at a university to learn. Instead, you can simply attend a coding bootcamp and become a full-fledged front end developer in a matter of months. 

Coding bootcamps are intensive training programs that equip students with job-ready skills to launch careers in tech. They teach the exact skills that you need to begin a career in front end development and may also provide career services to help you land a job after the training.

What Is Backend Web Development?

Backend web development focuses on building the server-side of websites, which are not seen by the user. The server-side is simply the technology that operates behind the scenes to power the client-facing sites of websites. Server-side development works on the part of the website that houses the server, database, and website application.

Backend Development Skills

To thrive in their job roles, backend developers must possess a range of skills, both technical and soft. It is the responsibility of a backend developer to ensure that databases, application program interfaces (API), and servers function properly. As a result, they must have essential backend developer skills to do the job. Some of them are listed below.

  • Knowledge of server-side languages such as Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, Scala, and Go
  • Experience with database technologies such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL, PostgreSQL, and MySQL
  • Knowledge of popular backend frameworks such as Spring, Rails, Django, and Laravel
  • Basic understanding of data structures and algorithms
  • Familiarity with servers
  • Knowledge of application programming interfaces (APIs)
  • Expertise with Git and command-line tools
  • Knowledge of accessibility and security compliance
  • Soft skills such as problem-solving skills, communication skills, and interpersonal skills

Common Backend Development Programming Languages

A career in backend development requires an expert command of several programming languages. Some of the most common backend languages are the following three. 

  • Python. Python is a widely-used backend programming language. It supports a variety of programming paradigms, such as procedural programming, object oriented programming, and functional programming, making it an ideal language for backend development.
  • Java. Java is another important object oriented programming language for backend web development. It is used to create web application modules and applications that run on a single computer.
  • PHP. Short for Hypertext Preprocessor, PHP is a server-side scripting language used to create dynamic web page content. You should learn PHP if you want to be a developer who is skilled at automating tasks and improving website performance.

Backend Development Jobs and Salaries

Backend developers can work in a wide range of job roles in the tech industry, although eligibility for job roles may be contingent on your proficiency in required programming languages. Some employers may require fluency in a single language, whereas others may want you to be fluent in several. Below are some examples of backend jobs.

Job Title Salary
iOS Developer $114,614
DevOps Engineer $114,359
Java Developer $105,801
Backend Developer $100,281
Software Engineer $99,729

How to Become a Backend Developer

Like front end development, you must enroll in an online course or attend training for web development that teaches backend programming languages and technologies. We recommend coding bootcamps that focus on Python, Java, and other backend skills.

The best web development bootcamps provide intensive programs that teach students how to code and equip them with the critical skills and programming experience to pursue careers in tech. Additionally, they incorporate hands-on projects and experiences to assist students in developing skills that are applicable to real-world situations.

Front End Development and Backend Development Comparison

a female back end developer showing a different type of developer something on a computer screen. Front End vs. Back End Development
While there is a bit of overlap between the two roles, front end developers and backend developers typically focus on different parts of full stack development. 

Both front end development and backend development are essential components of web applications, but they differ in some ways. Front end development and backend development collaborate to provide a seamless experience for users, but they work on opposite ends of the website. 

Front end development focuses on the visual components of the website, which is the part of the website that the user sees and interacts with. Backend development, on the other hand, deals with the part of the website that is invisible to the user. In addition, front end and backend developers use different programming languages and technologies to perform their job roles. 

Who Gets Paid More: Front End Developers or Backend Developers?

Front end and backend development require different skill sets and different programming strengths. As a result, there is also a difference in financial remuneration. According to ZipRecruiter, front end developers earn an average of $94,639 per year. On the other hand, backend developers earn an annual salary of $100,281.

These values clearly show the differences in average salaries between a front end developer and a backend developer. Other factors, such as skills, talent, and years of experience, can influence your earning potential as a web developer, regardless of specialization.

What Is a Full Stack Developer?

Full stack developers are tech professionals who can work on both the backend and front end of a website. They are proficient in a wide range of programming languages and technologies, including graphic design, database management, programming frameworks, and UI/UX management. 

Web Development Job Outlook

There are currently over 1.9 billion websites on the Internet according to Internet Live Stats. This number is likely to rise in the coming years. Based on these statistics, we can safely predict that web developers will always be in high demand by people, businesses, and organizations.

The job outlook for web developers confirms this. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the employment of web developers will increase by 13 percent from 2020 to 2030. Every year over that period, there will be approximately 17,900 job openings for web developers.

Should You Become a Front End or Backend Developer?

A specialization in front end development or backend development can lead to high-paying job roles in the industry. But what should you specialize in? Which option is best for you?

If you have a passion for visual designs or like the idea of creating a beautiful user interface, you might prefer front end development. Backend development, on the other hand, is likely to appeal to those who enjoy a good coding challenge and enjoy working with algorithms. If you’re not sure where your interests lay, you should explore both sides of full stack development.

Front End vs Backend Development FAQs

Is it easier to be a backend or a front end developer?

There is a widespread notion that front end development is easier than backend development. This might be true at the initial stage of learning. However, as you progress to the more technical aspects, you will discover that mastery of each specialization requires hard work, dedication, and patience.

Does front end development pay more than backend development?

Backend development jobs usually pay more than backend development roles because it is more technically complex. For both roles, however, remuneration depends on other factors such as skills, experience, technical expertise, and certifications.

Should I start with front end development or backend development?

This ultimately depends on your interest. However, experienced web developers recommend beginners to begin their training with front end development. Students who understand front end development concepts will find it easier to learn backend development because they will then be able to identify ways to improve the functionality of their web application.

Is front end development dying?

Far from it. Job prospects for a career in front end development still look strong. The job description may evolve in the coming years, but it still has a favorable job outlook. As people, businesses, and organizations continue to use websites and web applications, the job role of a front end web developer will remain relevant.

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