Software development has quickly become a fast-moving train that many people want to get on. However, diving into web development involves learning quickly, in addition to facing a lot of moving parts. One of the most important parts is deciding the career track that suits you best - frontend or backend?
In this article, I’ll take you through what backend and frontend are, as well as highlight the roles and skills needed to thrive as a frontend or backend developer. We’ll conclude with how to determine the perfect track for you. So, let’s get to it!
Backend refers to any part of a software or website that users do not see. It is sometimes referred to as the "data access layer" and encompasses the database where data is stored and processed.
Frontend refers to all the parts of a software or website that users see - the whole user interface. It's sometimes referred to as the “presentation layer”. Any data processed on the backend is displayed as useful and presentable information to the user on the frontend.
Full Stack is a hybrid of both frontend and backend. A Full Stack developer can single-handedly build the frontend and backend of an application. That could mean delivering an amazing user interface, with a highly effective database.
Imagine a user, Jacqueline, hears about Microverse. If it piques her interest, the first step would be to navigate to the website, www.microverse.org. When she types that URL into her browser, Microverse’s server processes the request (backend) and returns the page below for Jacqueline to see (frontend).
If it further interests her, she would click on the “APPLY NOW” button, which requests the application page from Microverse’s server (backend) and returns the page below for her to see (frontend).
Then, Jacqueline would fill the form and click on the “Sign Up” button. When she does that, this continues on. Now, you should be able to distinguish the processes and understand which are the frontend or backend.
Before diving into deciding which track is right for you though, you need to know and understand the responsibilities of each type of developer in a company, as well as the skills needed to thrive in these positions.
A frontend developer specializes in everything the user sees, this means the design and structure of each page in an application.
A frontend developer also:
A backend developer works hand-in-hand with frontend developers to provide efficient server-side algorithms to process each request sent by the user from the user interface.
A backend developer also:
Thriving in this fast-moving industry requires several soft skills like remarkable adaptability, excellent communication, resilience, and constant learning mode. Below are some technical skills that would further help you thrive in these roles.
The core skills needed to thrive as a frontend developer include:
The core skills needed to thrive as a backend developer include:
If you enjoy figuring out algorithms, designing the architecture of a system, and/or coming up with initiatives to improve the speed and performance of a system, then you might prefer backend.
However, if you enjoy working with simple and complex designs, bringing them to life, and/or building amazing user interfaces and experiences, you might prefer frontend.
Either way, deciding which track to opt for can be challenging sometimes, especially if you have no knowledge of web or software development. In such instances, don’t overthink it, just dive into learning and see which track interests you along the way. After all, you could become a Full Stack developer and handle roles that encompass both skills.
Good luck choosing, and happy coding!