Books about the design aspect of front end programming languages

Front End vs Backend Development: What Are the Key Differences?

Every beginner learning to code has to choose between front end and backend development. Unless you choose to learn both, the decision can be a difficult one. In this article, we’ve broken down the basics of both fields to help you make an informed choice.

What Is Web Development?

Web development is the series of tasks involved in developing and maintaining applications used on the Internet, such as websites. Some of these tasks involve what the users see on the client-side, while other tasks take place behind the scenes on the server-side. Let’s take a closer look at the different branches of web development. 

What Are the Different Types of Web Developers?

The three types are front end web developers, backend web developers, and full stack web developers. Below are descriptions of each role. 

  • Front End Web Developers. Front end web developers are computer programmers who optimize web designs using programming languages such as JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. They seek to improve and simplify user experience by creating web pages and web application user interfaces.
  • Backend Web Developers. Backend web developers are software engineers who build and structure the backend technologies of a website. The backend technologies include servers, databases, and specific programming languages and frameworks. They maintain the data structures, storage, and software applications that boost functionality.
  • Full Stack Web Developers. Full stack web developers are hybrid software developers. They can utilize programming languages like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS to optimize the user interface, as well as develop the servers of software applications. 

Front End Development vs Backend Development Defined 

What Is Front End Development?

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Front end development is the series of activities involved in developing the graphical user interface of a website or web application. Front end developers aim to create immersive user experiences with programming languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

It is user-focused in that it seeks the best balance between the aesthetic design and the functionality of a web page. The goal is to create the best possible experience for the user, in terms of performance, visual aspects, and feel.

Front end developers are concerned with client-side performance. They are responsible for writing code that determines the way that users will see and interact with the content, data, design, and structure of websites and mobile apps. 

What Is Backend Development?

Backend development is the process of building the backend structure of a website, which deals with things like servers, databases, and application programming interfaces (APIs). Backend developers determine how websites function on the server-side. 

They write the code for interacting with databases, structure how data is stored and accessed, and monitor the general performance of servers. Rather than focus on user experience, backend developers occupy themselves with the technical and logical aspects of website building. 

Front End Development vs Backend Development Programming Languages

What Programming Languages Do Front End Developers Use? 

The most common languages used by front end developers are JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. They are used to create user interfaces for web pages and mobile applications, and all three are among the easiest programming languages to learn. Below we examine each of these, and then we give you some ideas about which front end languages to learn after that. 

  1. JavaScript. JavaScript is a high-level programming language used in front end and backend web development. It conforms to the ECMAScript specification. ECMAScript is a general-purpose programming language that ensures the interoperability of web pages across different web browsers. 
  2. HTML. HTML is an acronym for HyperText Markup Language. It is the standard markup language for creating web pages. HTML is a series of nodes and elements that determine how contents are displayed on web applications. The HTML gives the web page structural functionality, thereby improving the user interface.
  3. CSS. CSS is an acronym for Cascading Style Sheets. It’s a coding language used to design the outlook and layout of a web page. It uses a written markup language like HTML to implement document design. It improves the aesthetic features of a web page by ensuring it displays visually attractive document styles. 
  4. Other front end languages. After JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, the most popular programming languages for front end development are React, Angular, Swift, jQuery, SASS, and Vue. 

What Programming Languages Do Backend Developers Use? 

The most common languages used by backend developers are Python, Java, C++, and C#, but there are other popular ones as well. 

  1. Python. Python is a high-level, multi-purpose, and object-focused programming language. It has built-in data structures, as well as dynamic semantics including text format and style. It is used to facilitate the syntax arrangement of documents to ensure ease of use and readability.
  2. Java. Java is a high-level, interpreted, object oriented programming language. Developed by James Gosling in 1995, it is also an independent computing platform used to design web applications. It utilizes a technique called dynamic compilation for better performance, and it can run on a single system or multiple servers.
  3. C++. C++ is a general-purpose, object oriented programming language used to create and design applications, operating systems, graphical user interfaces, and so on. It was designed by Bjarne Stroustrup as a superset of the C language. The C++ language gives computer programmers ample control over system resources and memory.
  4. C#. Also known as C-Sharp, C# is an object oriented programming language. It combines the computing power of C++ and the programming ease of Visual Basic. Microsoft designed it to work with its .NET platform. It facilitates the exchange of information between web users, and it allows developers to build portable applications.
  5. Other backend languages. The next most popular backend languages are PHP, Perl, Ruby, Scala, and Kotlin.

Front End Developer vs Backend Developer Job Outlook

Are Front End Developers in Demand?

Yes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for web developers and digital designers will increase by eight percent between 2019 and 2029. In any given year over this period, you can expect to see 13,400 job openings for web developers in the United States.

Are Backend Developers in Demand?

Yes. Backend developers are included in the BLS projection of eight percent job growth for web developers. Arguably, however, their broad skill set in the nuts and bolts of web-based software applications makes them even more valuable. According to BLS, employment for all software and web developers, programmers, and testers will grow 16.7 percent between 2019 and 2029.

Front End Developer vs Backend Developer Salary Comparison

What’s the Average Front End Developer Salary?

According to PayScale, the average front end developer earns about $75,293 per year. This is close to the median salary of $77,200 that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists for web developers and digital designers. The PayScale data suggests that the vast majority of front end web developers make between $50,000 and $115,000 per year. 

What’s the Average Backend Developer Salary?

The average backend developer makes about $81,161 per year, again according to PayScale. The range of salaries, from the 10th percentile to the 90th percentile, is about $51,000 to $131,000. This suggests that while the salary floor for backend developers is similar to that for front end developers, backend developers have a much higher salary ceiling. 

Top 5 Web Development Bootcamps to Build Your Tech Career

A coder using his full stack web development skills to code an application front end vs back end
Both front end and backend programmers are highly sought after in the tech industry.

Coding bootcamps are new-age education platforms that provide intensive and accelerated learning experiences for students. They equip students with practical, foundational, and versatile tech skills to transform them into software experts and programming professionals within a short period of time. 

Coding bootcamps provide on-the-job training in hard and soft skills. Students are exposed to high-level and up-to-date curriculums. These programs also help students with mock interviews, employer presentations, portfolio building, and job placement. They aim to secure gainful employment for graduates in the tech industry shortly after graduation. 

Along with job placement assistance and career services, coding bootcamps offer affordable tuition rates, flexible funding options, and scholarships to interested and qualified candidates. What’s more, the application process is straightforward. The programs are open to everyone, with or without prior coding experience.

Some of the best bootcamps that offer web development courses are listed below. 

1. Flatiron School 

  • Program: Software Engineering Bootcamp
  • Cost: $16,900
  • Program Length: Full-Time: 15 weeks, Flex: 20, 40, or 60 weeks

Flatiron School’s software engineering bootcamp provides a well-rounded curriculum in software development and engineering. The course begins with an introduction to the fundamentals of programming. Students are immersed in front end application development before moving to the backend. They learn how to use top programming languages for creating web pages.

2. App Academy 

  • Program: Software Engineering Bootcamp 
  • Cost: In-Person: $17,000, Full-Time Online: $20,000, Part-Time Online: $22,000
  • Program Length: In-Person: 16 weeks, Full-Time Online: 24 weeks, Part-Time Online: 48 weeks

This software engineering bootcamp will transform you into a full stack developer before you graduate. You begin with solving algorithmic tasks using fundamental Ruby methods, and the core curriculum is built around JavaScript and Ruby on Rails. The bootcamp ends with interview preparation and other career services. 

3. Springboard 

  • Program: Software Engineering Bootcamp
  • Cost: $8,500
  • Program Length: Full-Time: 9 months

This software engineering bootcamp features a top-notch curriculum that begins with the fundamentals of web development. It equips you with hands-on experience in a wide variety of programming languages and technologies, such as JavaScript, Ajax, jQuery, and more. It ends with a front end capstone project. 

4. Thinkful 

  • Program: Software Engineering Bootcamp
  • Cost: Full-Time: $16,000, Part-Time: $7,900
  • Program Length: Full-Time: 5 months, Part-Time: 6 months

This online software engineering bootcamp is an immersive program that offers students a well-structured curriculum. Starting with client-side software, it teaches students to build functional, accessible, and creative web pages and applications. It then takes students through software architectural styles and systems. 

5. Coding Dojo

  • Program: Software Development Bootcamp
  • Cost: Full-Time: $16,495, Part-Time $8,995
  • Program Length: Full-Time: 14 weeks, Part-Time: 16 to 32 weeks

This software engineering coding bootcamp teaches a wide range of skills. The curriculum takes students through the fundamentals of full stack web and software development, including front end, backend, and database technologies. Students learn three separate full stacks. The specific technologies are tailored to the hiring needs of each city where the program is offered.  

Front End Developer vs Backend Developer: Which Is a Better Career Path?

Both front end and backend development are in-demand web development careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the field of web development as a whole will enjoy eight percent job growth between 2019 and 2029. With job prospects so high throughout the field, it is impossible to say that one branch of web development is definitively better than the other. 

What we can say is that one might be better for you depending on your strengths, weaknesses, and career goals. If you’re having trouble deciding which to pursue, consider the three factors below. 

  • Job focus. Front end developers handle the client-side, while backend developers manage the server-side. If you see yourself working on the user-facing parts of a web application, go for front end development. If you’re more interested in data structures, databases, and APIs, pursue backend development jobs. 
  • Skillset. Front end developers must be well versed in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, and they are often designers as much as developers. Backend developers tend to work with server-side languages like C#, Python, C++, Java, and PHP. If you’re new to coding, take a few online programming courses to see which language you like best. 
  • Salary. In the United States, backend developers earn slightly more than front end developers. According to PayScale, the national average salary for front end developers is $75,293, while the average for backend developers is $81,161. Regardless of which field you go into, you are likely to earn a comfortable living. 

Front End vs Backend Development FAQ

Is front end development easier to learn than backend development?

Both fields require dedication, discipline, and familiarity with the web development process. However, because front end development is based on foundational and essential technologies like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, beginners usually find it easier. Those with an affinity for software engineering can go on to master backend technologies as well.

Is it better to be a front end or backend developer?

Deciding which career path is best for you should be based on your personality, personal goals, and how you connect with the field in a practical sense. Both career paths will fetch you a considerable income, so you shouldn’t base your decision on pay alone.

Do front end developers have a higher salary than backend developers?

On average, backend developers earn more than front end developers because of the complexity and high level of technicality their work demands. However, the pay difference is not always so pronounced. According to PayScale, backend developers earn $81,161 per year, compared to $75,293 for their front end counterparts.

Is Python a front end or backend programming language?

Python can be used as both a front end and backend programming language. Due to its approachable syntax, Python can be used both for designing web pages and for maintaining backend technologies like servers.

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