Front End Development and Back End Development. What is the Difference?

You’ve probably encountered both of these phrases online, often used interchangeably, but what is the difference between the two? And how do they relate to each other?

Well let’s find out by taking a closer look at exactly what’s involved, starting with front end development.

What is a Front End Developer?

A front end developer, often referred to as a web developer, is someone that implements the visual elements that users see and interact with on a website.

This is distinct from a web designer, who is responsible for the visual concept of a website, such as page layouts, grids, templates, typography and general ‘look and feel’.

So What Does Front End Development Involve?

Essentially a front end developer takes a mock-up of a website from a designer and develops this concept into a website using development languages such as HTML and CSS.

The result is what’s known as a static website – a website that doesn’t change, transform or rely on dynamic /interactive features, such as allowing a user to fill in a form and submit information.

How Does a Front End Developer Make a Website Dynamic?

In order to implement dynamic features, a front end developer will use a JavaScript framework such as Angular or a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, to link the static website with a database.

In a nutshell, this allows information to be collected from the front end of the website and stored in the database. Or, conversely, it allows information to be retrieved from the database and displayed on the front end of the website.

A perfect example of this is process in action is Facebook. After registering for a Facebook account using the front end of the website your personal details will be stored in the Facebook database.

Then, when you log into Facebook your account details are retrieved from the database and a personalised version of Facebook is presented to you.

So What is a Back End Developer?

Back end development refers to the development of applications such as Content Management Systems which run on the server and are used to convey information between the database and the browser / front end.

Back end developers are often referred to as programmers or coders, since their work is very much focussed on building applications using server based coding languages such as PHP, Ruby, Python and .Net.

What does backend development involve?

Backend development takes place on the server, often referred to as the ‘server side. Essentially this means anything that happens ‘behind the scenes’ away from the front end of the website.

Essentially if a website requires any additional dynamic functionality, it’s the job of the backend developer to develop it, test it and ensure that it functions with speed and responsiveness in mind.

This could range from a comprehensive internal search system for the website, to simply ensuring that the drop down menu that the front end developer places on the website is populated with information pulled from the database.

So What is a Full Stack Developer?

A full stack developer is a developer that is familiar with both front end and back end development languages. These developers have an understanding of the individual layers that go into software development and can specialise in any area of that development process.

A Final Thought

The role of ‘developer’ is evolving almost as rapidly as the software and technology that developers use. It just isn’t as clear cut as front end or back end anymore, not when so many other disciplines are involved in the development process.

The days of a lone ‘web designer’ building an entire company website in a few hours before heading off to the slopes for a cheeky snowboarding session are over.

These days development requires the input of UI designers for the visuals, UX designers to ensure the right goals are achieved and QA testers to make sure that everyone has done their jobs correctly.

Who knows, the way things are going with recent advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence, will we even need web developers 10 years from now?


Do you want to learn how Diffusion Digital can help transform your website from something ordinary into something extraordinary. Read more about our WordPress development and Shopify services.

Key Considerations to Making your Website more Engaging

Getting your website right can be difficult – from one angle you want your site to display as much information as possible in an attempt to emphasise your expertise in a particular field. On the other, you don’t want your website to appear clunky and boring as it needs to stand above all others to catch the eye of the consumer.

This can lead to a middle-ground, that for some, is difficult to achieve – A grey area, found on a thin line between over-the-top design and tedious content. You don’t want your online business to fall into either of those traps, so how do you get it right.

High quality content is absolutely essential for the success of your website, but this content must be incorporated into a memorable experience by utilising certain design features – features that will fully engage users and position your brand above other contenders. But what exactly are these?

Website design

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For some websites, having a simple and concise navigation bar can seem like a near impossible task to achieve, especially considering the vast amounts of content that some organisations have. Having too many navigation options is a big NO when it comes to web design – it can leave users overwhelmed, confused, and irritated – something that definitely won’t help with your conversion rate. A logical and intuitive navigation scheme is the way to go – effectively you should know the next step that users want to be taking before they do, gently guiding and nudging them in various directions that ultimately result in coherent finishes.

Easy Contact

More often than not, when users have a question, they want to get straight to the point and get in touch – meaning they often bypass any FAQ sections and go straight for the contact page. Of course, the way in which a user wants to get in touch varies from person to person – some like over the phone, some like emails, some even prefer the simplicity of the contact form. So, as a business, you should make sure that all of these options are available to your customers – phone, email, contact form, and social media. It makes users feel like their needs have been tended too, and can often significantly reduce levels of stress associated with time critical requests.

I know this seems like a really obvious one, but often having well-placed and noticeable Call-To-Actions will always give users somewhere to go.
Will Wigram, Managing Director

Obvious Call-To-Actions

I know this seems like a really obvious one, but often having well-placed and noticeable Call-To-Actions will always give users somewhere to go. This, if thought-out properly, will enable users to see most of the website by utilising a natural flow – effectively giving you the opportunity to guide them to the areas of the website you most want them to see.

Social Media Shareability

Social media can easily be considered one of the primary forms of marketing and communication when it comes to your businesses’ online presence. Making sure that areas of your site can be shared appropriately on all social media sites allows for real engagement from your users – and is the best way of attracting traffic. Having live feeds for your Twitter or Instagram pages allows users to see that you are active and therefore likely to be accessible and responsive – a key feature in this day and age.

Stick with the High Quality Content

Besides all of the points above, once users get deeper into the site, design and navigation don’t really stand for much if you haven’t managed to retain fresh, original and high-quality content. Besides, just as important, all the major search engines have algorithms in place that are designed to reward websites with higher search page rankings if those websites keep on top of their content. That means relevant, consistent, and constant content.


Diffusion digital creates bespoke websites on several platforms. To read more about how we can help enhance your WordPress site click here.