Website Development

What is the Difference Between Front-End and Back-End?

What is the Difference Between Front-End and Back-End?
March 25, 2022

The terms front-end and back-end are often used for website development and optimization. In short, the front-end of a site refers to how users see and interact with the website, while the back-end deals with how data and servers communicate.
Users do not see the back-end of website or application development. Like a movie with heavy CGI, users do not see the green screens, prosthetics, and hours in makeup. Instead, users see the finished movie. Like the front-end of a website, users can see and interact with the movie through their streaming devices by pausing, rewinding, and adding subtitles.
Both the front-end and back-end are fundamental to web development. To optimize any site, it is crucial to understand the key aspects of each.

What is Front-End Web Development?

If we carry the same metaphor, the front-end of a site is like a movie after the special effects have been added. In terms of web development, the front-end is comprised of the following elements:

  • HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are web technologies, languages in a way, that create what a user sees on a website. Web languages translate what a web designer wishes to see on the screen into a code the servers can understand.
    For example, if a person wants to have the 90s dancing baby on their page, a web language is what makes that baby dance on screen.
    Each language can work separately or together, depending on the website design:

    • HTML is the basic structure of a webpage, like the set of a movie.
    • CSS is the format, layout, and overall presentation of a webpage, like how movie special effects look onscreen.
    • JavaScript code controls the behavior of different aspects of a webpage, similar to the rewind and pause functions on a streaming device when playing a movie.
  • Web browsers: A web browser is a type of software that runs out and gets the requested information. Suppose after a long day a person wants to throw on a Netflix program. The search bar is using browsing software to find the perfect show to unwind. Examples may include:
    • Chrome
    • Safari
    • Internet explorer
  • Webviews: Webviews run web pages on native operating systems. Unlike the web, a native operating system is software that is made for one particular device. Think about how certain shows and movies are made for specific streaming services.
  • Headless browsers: Headless browsers lack a graphical user interface and are predominantly used to test web pages.

Overall, the front-end of a website includes everything from the buttons, colors, videos, font, and everything a user sees. Performance, responsiveness, and search engine optimization are the primary focus of a front-end developer.

What is Back-End Web Development?

When considering some of the biggest movies in the last decade, comic book superheroes and Star Wars easily come to mind. While cinematically beautiful, behind the scenes is another story. The back-end of the movie process would show Luke Skywalker with a stick instead of a lightsaber and Superman flying with a harness in front of giant green screens.
The back-end of web development is no different. It may not be the prettiest thing to behold but equally as valuable as the final product. The back-end is made up of three parts:

  • Server: Servers provide data when users request it via front-end applications.
  • Application: An application is a process of channeling data once it has been requested.
  • Database: A database organizes the information so that servers can provide it upon request.

While users cannot see databases and servers, the back-end involves the code that communicates how the information is stored, recalled, and used.
Back-end development includes:

  • Running code to generate HTML, JavaScript, and CSS
  • Processing how users interact with JavaScript,
  • Encrypting and decrypting data
  • Processing requests, like retrieving webpages from a browser request
  • Storing and accessing data
  • Updating records in a database
  • Processing uploads and downloads

For a movie, the prosthetics and makeup, green screens, and computer programming come together to create beautiful CGI effects. The back-end of a website involves everything that communicates between the database and browser, server-side processes, and how a site works.

Why Front-End and Back-End Development Are Important

Without a strong back-end and front-end, a site will not function properly, let alone serve its intended purpose.
With respect to the back-end, bad CGI or special effects distract audiences from the movie. Consider a certain cape crusader and a mustache controversy that has made more headlines than the movie itself.
The front-end is equally as valuable. How can an audience be distracted by a cape crusader’s strange upper lip if the movie buffers so much they give up watching?
Front-end development and back-end are important for numerous reasons:

  • Presentation: A webpage is the first impression a user has of a site, and generally, a business. It must load quickly, be pleasing to the eye, and capture a user’s attention enough, so they do not click away. Similar to how the first scene of a movie sets the tone, a website’s initial impression must be near flawless.
  • Trust: If a website functions poorly, has spotty graphics, and keeps running into errors, a user will click away rather than deal with the frustration. A user needs to trust a website to perform and work the way it is intended.
  • Purpose: A successful front-end on a webpage will convey the purpose of the website in a clear and concise manner. For instance, it may be confusing to audiences to watch a movie with horror music playing in the background, Bollywood dancing sequences, and a set designed to be in space.

When the front-end and back-end of a site come together, the user will have a seamless experience

Advantages of Fullstack Development

Both front-end and back-end development are intricate, complex, and critical to any webpage. Typically, a developer handles one or the other. However, with recent advancements in coding, speed, and other technologies, fullstack developers have been making a mark.
The biggest advantages to hiring a fullstack developer include:

  • They are highly accomplished website developers who understand clients’ needs and how to implement their goals
  • To become a fullstack developer requires extensive experience on both ends, and can use their insight to help clients
  • They are better able to troubleshoot any problems that may arise, no matter how minor
  • They are concerned with and understand the big picture instead of one piece

While the front-end and back-end of a website involve very different skillsets and expertise, the end result is a beautiful webpage that loads in less than three seconds and conveys the purpose of the site just as quickly.
At Cross Country Creative, our fullstack team of developers is here to help websites reach their potential. Reach out to discuss your goals with our exceptional legal marketing consultants.

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