• Technology
  • by Jakub Szczęsny
  • 29/01/2020

Backend Developer vs Frontend – differences and responsibilities

Every position in the IT industry has its main roles and responsibilities. Interestingly, there is a lot of confusion about seemingly similar positions. Backend developer vs frontend developer – what are the differences? What is worth remembering?

Observing what people write in search engines and how conversations during IT events look like, often a lot of controversies exist among young employees associated with software companies, which divides them into front and backend developers. The most sensible method of division is to introduce a clear antagonism with regard to what individual professionals do. So:

 

– The backend developer is responsible for the functional layer – it is up to him how the website works.

– The frontend developer is responsible for the visual layer – it is up to him how the website looks. 

 

On the basis of such a division, it is possible to construct a certain idea of what a specialist does and where is the limit of his duties. However, this is obviously not all that defines the main problem. It is also important to understand what exactly each of these professionals does and what their responsibilities are. It is also worth mentioning what a backend and frontend developer should know.

Read also: What is UX Design? Here’s all you need to know

Backend developer vs frontend – differences

The differences between “frontend” and “backend” are contained in the layers on which specialists from “different sides” act. It is worth mentioning here that both are very important and only their harmonious interaction is a guarantee of success during the project. Therefore, cooperation between “frontend” and “backend” specialists is not so much as required, but simply crucial. 

 

The frontend is the part of the website that is visible to the user and with which the user can interact. This includes the graphic user interface (GUI), its appearance, menu layout, text, embedded content. The backend, on the other hand, is a part of a website that is not visible to the user and with which the user cannot directly interact. However, the backend plays an extremely important role in the operation of a website – it is up to it whether the user will be able to use the service (which de facto is the website). In general, it can be assumed that “the backend is everything that happens in the background, except the user’s perception”. For example, if you look at a Google Translate website: 

 

– what you see is the frontend

– the text input box is also a frontend

– the result of the translation is the effect of the backend, after all, we don’t “see” the process of text translation?

– The fact that this website is available at a given address works in this way, and not the other one is also the work of the backend.

 

It is also believed that the “backend” is all that is on the “server” side of the application (which is the website), and the frontend is all that is on the “client” side – which means he has direct contact with the user. For some, this division helps to understand the important differences between these specialties. 

 

Frontend developers are not the only ones that take care of the frontend. People who do UX/UI research, graphic designers, designers are also people who are responsible for the frontend. Such people are required not only to have “imagination” useful in artistic aspects, but above all to have knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript – in order to move freely through the challenges posed by the frontend. In the case of the backend, these are such languages as NodeJS,  PHP, Java, Ruby. The backend developer is responsible for implementing appropriate functionalities, for the proper operation of the site on the server and for all actions that take place outside the user’s perception. 

Backend developers vs frontend – responsibilities

The developer’s front and backend responsibilities may vary depending on the project and the company he works for. The division of duties is therefore very fluid, but the “golden mean” is primarily not to interfere with each other while performing their duties. People representing “frontend” and “backend” positions should work together, not compete. The effectiveness of ones results in optimal working conditions for others (and vice versa). 

 

Frontend personnel will usually be responsible for UX/UI, implementation of visual elements of the project according to customer guidelines or wireframes or prototypes. It will be their responsibility to place the content on the website and to place buttons in the right places.

 

The backend, on the other hand, will be responsible for ensuring that the placed buttons work as they should (e.g. to perform the desired action standing on the server side), for maintaining the database and its communication with the frontend, for sensitive functions – those without which the service cannot work, for additional software, on which the functioning of the website depends, and for maintaining the whole website in the network. 

 

Who is the Full-Stack Developer?

 

When considering frontend and backend developers, it is worth mentioning the people who combine the qualities of both specialists. Full Stack Developers have the skills belonging to a full technological “stack”. Therefore, such a specialist is able to maintain on his own the entire service available on the Internet – from the base configuration, through server configuration to visual adjustments. However, in practice, the most important thing is that a Full Stack Developer is able to respond with his knowledge to any problem that may appear in the project, and thus function as a kind of “consultant for every problem”. It is worth mentioning that the combination of all the features of Backend and Frontend Developers is very difficult and may seem impossible – that is why virtually every Full Stack will be more inclined towards front or backend. However, they are extremely sought after specialists on the market. 

 

The differences between a frontend and backend developer are not difficult to understand – but it is worth knowing the basic differences. At Concise Software we have specialists who deal with issues on the client side and “server” issues. Full Stack Developers are also available in our company – contact us if you want to benefit from their extensive experience. 

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Jakub Szczęsny

PR / Marketing Specialist at Concise Software. Author of one of the largest technology websites in Poland - Antyweb

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