Frontend vs. backend development: Breaking down the difference

frontend vs. backend development: article cover

Okay, if you want to get into the world of digitization, technology, and app development, that’s great! There are a lot of interesting things waiting for you on the road to realizing your business ambitions. But before you dive headfirst into development, it’s worth learning a little theory. In this article, we would like to explain the basics of development, so you can better understand what app development is all about. We will explain what an app looks like to a developer, how the frontend differs from the backend, and what tools are used for it. And, of course, we will share with you where to find a team to develop your app. Let’s go!

What is frontend development?

Every product development consists two sides: the frontend and backend

The frontend is a part of the app that users see and can interact with. Everything that users potentially see is developed by a frontend developer. Frontend is about three languages — HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

What is the frontend based on?

  • HTML is a markup language that informs the browser of the elements of structure: headings, lists, and paragraphs.
  • CSS tells the browser exactly how to display these elements, specifying styles, sizes, fonts, and block locations.
  • Javascript is a programming language that can be used either for frontend or backend development. Displaying periodically updated content, interactive maps, or animating 2D/3D graphics, scrolling videos in the player, and making the app interactive — these are the things thatJavaScript does.

The external interface is what the user can see, interact with, and experience. It is also called the "client side" of an app. It covers everything users see and interact with, such as button colors, text styles, photos, graphics, and tables. Frontend developers use various frameworks and libraries such as Angular, React, Sass, etc.

frontend vs. backend development: part that user can see

Frontend developers work on the structure, design, behavior, and content of everything that appears on the screen once a user opens a webpage or starts an app. Thus, the main frontend challenges are response speed and performance. The website developer needs to make sure that the website is adaptive, i.e. it looks good and works properly regardless of the screen size.

What is backend development?

The backend is the server side of an application. All technical aspects such as stability and core functionality of the application belong to the backend. Backend programmers create the internal parts of the service, which work without user involvement.

The backend includes work done on the "server side" of the app. It stores and organizes data, ensuring that everything on the client side actually works. And it also includes the web server that communicates with the database (like MongoDB or Redis) to handle the requests submitted by the frontend.

And here are some backend development tools:

  • Python
  • PHP
  • Go
  • Node.js
frontend vs. backend development: part that user can’t see

As you may guess, users do not interact with the backend directly. They indirectly get access to components and features created by backend web designers through the front part of an app. With the programs, the server retrieves and sends the user’s actions back to the user. The main responsibility of the backend developer is to connect the databases and each frontend component. Knowledge of backend tools like Python, which can be used either for frontend or backend development, PHP, Node.js, and others is one of the important competencies of a backend developer. This ensures that everything on the client side of the website works properly when storing and organizing data.

Although the frontend and the backend are very different, each side must cooperate and interact the same way.

How do the frontend and the backend work side by side?

The interaction between frontend and backend can be described in the following steps:

  1. The client part sends a request to the server
  2. The server processes the request
  3. The request is processed and a response is sent to the client side

About the team

Despite the different work profiles, the team members understand the basics of the other participants. By the way, how to gather a team?

There are three ways you can go:

Freelance. If you already have relevant experience with developers, you can turn to freelancing.

What are the pros?

  • Saving money. Hiring freelancers is more cost-effective than assembling your own team or hiring outsourcers.

What are the cons?

  • Finding contractors. You have to search for each team member yourself.
  • Micromanagement. You have to become a liaison between all the employees. It means that it’s you who will be responsible for establishing communication and ensuring a smooth workflow.

In-house team. Perhaps you want to build your own development team.

What are the pros?

  • Control over the process. You CAN control the entire work process. This is good, because you will know all the subtleties and nuances.
  • Independence. In case of conflict with a contracting company, you can lose everything at once. If you have a team, the chance of losing everyone at once is not that big
  • Knowledge and experience. All the experience stays inside your team and your project.

What are the cons?

  • Control of the process. You ARE in control of the entire work process. Most likely, it will require all of your time and other resources.
  • Everything by yourself. You have to hire each person yourself. Or hire someone who will do it for you.
  • Cost. Having your own development team is way more expensive than freelancing or outsourcing.
  • Outside costs. MAY involve more expenses: taxes, office (not a fact), equipment, etc.

Outsourcing agency. If you’re a newbie entrepreneur or you just don’t like the first two options, we recommend you request an outsourcing agency.

What are the pros?

  • Well-coordinated team. You do not need to maintain communication between team members, as it’s a responsibility of a project manager.
  • Full-cycle development team. When you hire a team, you have designers, frontend and backend developers, testers, analysts, and even marketers and copywriters at once.
  • Experience in a variety of projects. You can find an agency that has experience in projects similar to yours.
  • Ready-made solution. Before you start, you know what the project will be, what features it will have, and how long it will take.

What are the cons?

  • Accumulated experience. In case of any staff changes, you have to wait until your new team members get to know the project. Or you have to look for a team with the same development stack.
frontend vs. backend development: the outsource team’s work

Learn more about the outsource team’s work at Stories and articles.


The point is that you don’t need to know the technology very well and understand the code. If you know the basics of the development process, you can feel more confident about starting to develop your own project. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first project or if you want to add an online presence to your offline business. As we said, if you’ve difficulties deciding where to start, don’t hesitate to consult the managers of a development company. Ronas IT services offers a wide range of design and development services for websites and web and mobile applications. Specializing in startups and small businesses, we create products that meet market needs and solve users’ problems. And if you need our help, we can create for you a product that will attract users and turn them into loyal customers.

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