Difference between Full Stack Developers, Front End Developers, and Back End Developers

When you're looking to hire a development team to build your application, you can onboard separate teams of front-end and back-end developers, or a team of full-stack developers. How do you decide between them?  

eye icon201 Views
clock icon10 minute
About The Author
Nitin Nijhawan, CDOicon

What is a Full Stack Developer? 

Full-stack developers work with an application's front end (visual look and feel), and back end (logic and infrastructure). They handle end-to-end application development. 

What Does a Full Stack Developer Do? 

Full stack development involves the following tasks

  • Developing the app's front end architecture 
  • Designing user interactions 
  • Developing the app's back end 
  • Creating server software and databases 
  • Designing and developing APIs 
  • Managing the complete application development lifecycle 
  • Overseeing testing and providing feedback 
  • Maintaining and upgrading the application post deployment 

What are some Full Stack Languages and Tools? 

The top full-stack languages are

  • PHP 
  • HTML5 
  • CSS3 
  • SQL 
  • Python 
  • Ruby 
  • JavaScript 
  • Elixir 
  • TypeScript 

Popular full stack tools include

  • Angular.js 
  • BootStrap 
  • Foundation 
  • Ruby on Rails 
  • Django 
  • ASP.net 
  • EmberJS 

What is a Front-End Developer? 

Everything you see and interact with on a website has been created by a front-end developer. As the term suggests, front-end development focuses on visitor-facing elements of web development, such as visuals, interactive elements, and the overall user interface (UI). To put it simply, a front end developer is responsible for the look and feel of a website. 

What Does a Front-End Developer Do? 

Front-end developers put their web design and programming expertise to use in creating websites in the desired style. They also make sure everything on a webpage performs as expected. For example, when you click the 'Submit' button on a form, your form should be submitted to the site owner. If the button isn't working, then there's an error in the code that needs fixing by the front-end developer. 

The full list of tasks performed by a front-end developer are

  • Code the website's appearance, including its layout, visual themes, fonts, color schemes and more. 
  • Create the UI, the goal being to make interactions with the website intuitive and smooth.
  • Make the website easy to find by search engines by implementing SEO best practices. 
  • Debugging and testing to ensure the usability and functionality of the site. 

What are some Front-End Languages and Tools? 

The top front-end languages are

  • HTML 
  • CSS 
  • JavaScript 
  • React 
  • Angular 
  • jQuery 
  • Swift 

Some tools deemed essential for front-end development are

  • Code editors (Atom, Sublime Text, Visual Studio Code) 
  • Version Control Systems (Git) 
  • Front-end Boilerplates (HTML5 Boilerplate, Reset CSS) 
  • Front-end assets (Google Fonts, Font Awesome, and stock photography sites like Piaxabay and Unsplash) 
  • Code Validators (W3C Markup Validation Service, WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool) 

When you hire a front-end developer, it's a good idea to ask them about their experience using common languages and tools for their projects. This is to gauge their suitability for your project and the depth of their expertise for any future work.  

What is a Back End Developer? 

When you perform an action on a website, you expect it to deliver certain results. Taking the previous example of form submission, you get notified by email. This is the back end at work. The data in your form gets stored in a database, from where your email address is picked to send you an email. Back-end developers write code to enable this logical response. 

To put it simply, back-end developers are responsible for ensuring the server-side logic. They're in charge of the back-end of the website - server, database, and the application programming interface (API). 

What Does a Back End Developer Do? 

A back-end developer performs the following tasks

  • Develop server-side logic.
  • Create, integrate and manage the database. 
  • Develop, deploy and maintain the content management system. 
  • Design APIs for desktop and mobile users. 
  • Collaborate with front-end developers to integrate visitor-facing elements with server-side logic. 
  • Generate analytics and statistics. 
  • Implement security settings and hack prevention. 

Back-end developers are methodical, analytical, and investigative. They have a deep understanding of the entire web development process, across design, development, and deployment. It's worth checking for these attributes when you hire a back-end developer. 

What are some Back End Languages and Tools? 

The top back-end languages are

  • C++ 
  • C# 
  • SQL 
  • JavaScript 
  • PHP 
  • Python 
  • Ruby 
  • Scala 

Some of the back-end web development tools in use include

  • Laravel 
  • Ruby on Rails 
  • Apache 
  • MongoDB 
  • Django 
  • React Native 
  • Zend 
  • Redis 

How are they similar? 

Front and back end developers have a common mission to create a visually pleasing, intuitive, and functional application. A front-end developer works with a view of back end functions, components and databases. At the back end, developers must ensure that the application is scalable and can perform properly for the front end to load and behave as expected. 

So, while each set of developers works on different sides of an app, they do so with an awareness of both areas. At the bare minimum, they're able to recognize whether an issue with the app interface is stemming from a back end or front end error. 

Full Stack vs. Back-End vs. Front-End: Which is Better and Why? 

If there are lots of moving pieces in the front and back ends, separate teams for each are preferable. A dedicated team of full-stack developers is better suited to smaller or less complex apps. 

It doesn't have to be a question of this or that. Companies may hire back end and front end developers, as well as include a full-stack developer as a go-between. 

Cost is another consideration. Note that there aren't many developers with both front and back end expertise. When you hire a full stack developer, check their per hour charge and compare it with the industry standard, and in view of project complexity. It's also worth noting that back-end developers are compensated more than their front end counterparts. 

Many companies let the offshore web design and development services they're engaging decide the project team mix for them. By hiring offshore developers, they're also able to keep costs more manageable than if they were to independently scout for freelance talent. 

Access Application Development Talent at VLink 

Save time and kick your app development into high gear with VLink's vetted full-stack, back end and front end developers. Our 500+  strong team is at your service - drop us a line to discuss your requirements and hire a development team in the quickest possible time. 

Got a Requirement?
Picture of our Logo
Get In Touch!