Frontend vs. Backend Development

Nearly every website you use can be broken down into two parts: a frontend and a backend. When you first type in the URL of your favorite website and it loads, you’re presented with images, texts, links, and maybe videos. Click on a link and it takes you to another page that might consist of a contact form, a product that you want to buy, or your account information.

What you’re seeing or interacting with on the screen is known as the “frontend.” Have you had a question and submitted a contact form? Purchased the latest version of a phone? Or updated your email address? The “backend” is what made all of that possible.

Frontend Development

Frontend development focuses on appearance and the user interface. When you go to a website, open up a program or software, or swipe through your phone, what you’re seeing is considered the frontend. Think of it as anything visual and anything that you interact with. The frontend is also referred to as “client-sided,” meaning something is happening in the browser.

Frontend Tools

Here are some tools that might be used in frontend development:

  • Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML, is a language used to organize how data is displayed on a page.
  • JavaScript, or JS, is a language that allows for complex implementation of features on a page.
  • Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, is a language that allows for styling elements.
  • Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets, or SASS, is a preprocessing language that gets compiled into CSS.
  • React.JS is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces.

Backend Development

Backend development focuses on everything that you don’t see as a user. When you make a purchase at an online store, for example, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes processes that happen between the moment you click the “Place Order” button and the moment that the seller receives your order and payment. Think of it as anything that is not visual. The backend is referred to as “server-sided,” meaning something is happening on the server or database.

Backend Tools

Here are some tools that might be used in backend development.

  • PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, or PHP, is a general-purpose scripting language.
  • Python is a general-purpose programming language.
  • Laravel is a PHP framework.
  • Django is a Python framework.
  • Apache is an open-source web server.
  • MySQL is an open-source database management system.

Working Together

Frontend and backend development are essential in web development. Generally, frontend and backend must work together to provide a good user experience. A frontend without a backend is limited in what it can do functionally, while a backend without a frontend is nearly impossible to use — it’s just a blank screen! The idea that the frontend and backend must work together is considered a general idea because it doesn’t apply to every website. There are websites that consist of only a frontend, and while they can still look beautiful, they do tend to lack functionality like the ability to submit a form, make a purchase, or store data.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand the differences between frontend and backend development, and a little more about web projects as a whole.

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