Front-end and Back-end Developers: A Quick Comparison

In the world of web development, there are two important authorities commonly mentioned: front-end and back-end developers. These two terms refer to two distinct roles in web development that work hand in hand to deliver a great experience to the users.


It can be difficult to clearly tell the difference between these two roles—but here’s a simple and straightforward guide to telling front-end and back-end developers apart:  



Front-end development, or otherwise known as the “client-side” of web development, involves everything that the users see, touch, or experience first when they visit websites. Front-end developers then, are concerned with the look, feel, and design of the site.


Back-end development is also called the “server-side” of the development and is concerned primarily with the functionality of a website. This side of the development involves three parts: the server, the application, and the database. Back-end developers are tasked to send and receive information to be displayed in the front end.



There is a multitude of technical skills required from both front-end and back-end developers, but the most common languages are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for front-end, and Python, Ruby, and SQL for back-end.


Front-end Development: 

HTML - HTML is the fundamental language that is used to create and organise web content so the information can be displayed to its users. It is necessary for all front-end developers to have a great understanding of HTML, and recruiters place high importance in a candidate’s HTML skills.

CSS - CSS accompanies HTML to build a good front-end—it provides the paint, fonts, templates, buttons, lights, and other elements that significantly improve the look of a web page.  

JavaScript - While not exclusively a frontend language, JavaScript is used commonly in this department to create more interactive elements such as drop-down menus, contact forms, and infinite scrolling. Moreover, JavaScript frameworks such as Angular, Ember, React, and Backbone are widely used for JavaScript-heavy front-ends.


In addition to these basic languages, front-end developers also work with Bootstrap and Angular, and other resources that support HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These libraries and extensions provide various tools and templates, which make the process of writing code more manageable. Front-end developers also work on responsive designs plus typography, layouts, grid system, and colour theory.


Back-end Development:

Ruby - Ruby is a fun and easy-to-read programming language, which is why it has become one of the most popular languages for startups and SMEs. It is used to calculate data, code business logic, and distribute servers.

Python - Python is a well-known language because it is readable and dynamic. In fact, it is powerful enough to power any program, from the simplest data operations to the most scaled and complex.

SQL - SQL is revered as the “universal database query language”. Back-end developers most likely use SQL or some abstraction of it to interact with the database, regardless of what language or framework the web app is built in.


Other languages that back-end developers commonly use are Java, .NET, and PHP. Consequently, back-end developers should also be knowledgeable in certain PHP frameworks such as Zend, Symfony, and Cake PHP as well as version control software such as CVS, GIT or SVN (along with Linux).  



Front-end and back-end developers have a wide range of responsibilities depending on the industry they’re in and the products or services they’re working on. However, here are some common tasks:  


Front-end developers commonly have these responsibilities:

  • Develop all visible aspects of the website
  • Work closely with designers, UI/UX developers and marketing teams to bring out the desired outcome.
  • Use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to bring a design to life
  • Produce, modify, and maintain websites and user interfaces
  • Implement a responsive design for mobile sites
  • Test the site to check usability and fix bugs.


Back-end developers are usually tasked to:

  • Write code related for the server-side of the site
  • Work with code architecture
  • Know backend development frameworks, tools, and software
  • Develop backend systems for product support.
  • Create functional APIs
  • Monitor the status of servers



Since front-end developers work with the visuals and the feel of the website, it is important for them to have good visualisation skills. They must be creative yet empathetic to the end users—meaning that their work is less about the code and more about considering how the users will be able to navigate and move around the website.


Back-end developers, on the other hand, must possess the ability to adapt and learn the back-end programming language or framework that his/her company relies upon. It is also crucial for back-end developers to have at least a basic understanding of front-end technologies like those mentioned above to be able to work with front-end developers smoothly. Lastly, problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills are also vital factors that distinguish great back-end developers from the rest.


Related article: 5 advantages of hiring web developers offshore



In the midst of the tech talent shortage today, it can be hard to find both front-end and back-end developers who qualify your requirements. Despite this, employers and businesses are able to hire the talent they need cost-effectively—through exploring alternative options by leveraging the world’s deep tech talent pool.




Build your web development team in as fast as two weeks! Cloud Employee helps you hire the best front-end and back-end developers across these technologies. Learn more about how Cloud Employee works, check out our Developer Pricing Guide, or talk to us.

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