Front-End vs. Back-End Web Development

Websites are making everyday tasks easier.

From shopping, paying bills and booking health appointments, everything can be done with a few strokes on a keyboard or swipe on a touchscreen. Chances are the average American easily visits dozens of websites every day – on desktop, tablets and smartphones.

In the U.S., the average user visits Google nearly eight times a day, according to Alexa Internet, Inc., a subsidiary of Amazon that measures and analyzes global web traffic data. Google ranks number one according to the analysis of most visited websites in the country. YouTube and Facebook earned second and third place.

Think about it: how often do you visit these sites each day? And what is your user experience? All websites should accomplish several things – provide an effective and positive user experience while achieving stakeholder goals, such as increasing brand awareness, improving customer loyalty, generating leads, processing sales and more.

Web developers are vital to this process. They are the IT professionals tasked with designing and building websites. They are responsible for making sure websites are functional and created to meet client demands and customer expectations.

Because development of interactive websites has become so complex, new roles have emerged beyond web developer and webmaster. Front-end and back-end developers are now needed to bring creative concepts to fruition while ensuring applications function properly.

  • Front-end developers are becoming hybrid positions that require programming skills and creativity to develop the overall website customer experience.
  • Back-end developers are essential to ensuring websites run by providing functionality to front-end code and using technical knowledge and tools to make web applications run.

What is Front-End Web Development?

Simply stated, front-end web developers are responsible for how a website looks and interacts with users. Front-end developers design the layout, including what graphics and applications are needed, such as virtual carts or online checkouts for retailers.

Front-end developers need to know how to write computer code required for design, including three core languages: HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

They also decide what customer-facing elements are needed, including content, videos and other interactive components, as well as basics like typography and colors. They may need a rudimentary understanding of Photoshop and other design programs.

What is Back-End Web Development?

Back-end web developers are responsible for the back-end function of a website, which is comprised of three parts: the server, the database and server-side applications.

These professionals need to build the framework and communications necessary to connect the server, database and server-side applications together. For example, when a customer fills out payment information for an online purchase, the back-end developer is responsible for building the functionality to collect information and then store it in a database.

Additionally, back-end web developers work hand-in-hand with front-end developers to ensure their designs work – this can be done by using a scripting language such as Ruby or PHP.

Other responsibilities include optimizing websites for speed and efficiency and creating backup technologies for websites files and database.

Back-end web developers also create procedures and processes required to make changes to websites such as adding new content, new pages and drop-down menus.

Growing Opportunities in Web Development

While front-end and back-end web development are necessary to create a website that appeals to the target audience, there are other opportunities within web development. Full-stack and webmasters are also job titles that exist within this profession.

  • A full-stack developer oversees the entire lifespan of a website and is essentially someone who understands all steps from concept to finished product.
  • Webmasters maintain and update websites, including testing for errors such as broken links, as well as respond to user comments.

Overall careers in web development are projected to grow 15% by 2026, faster than the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS reports the average annual salary is $72,150.

While there are several opportunities within web development, by focusing on front-end or back-end development, IT experts can enhance specialized skills and knowledge in this growing industry. A bachelor’s degree in computer information systems can provide you with basic technical knowledge and best practices in database concepts, network theory and design, programming and more.

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