Front-end and back-end development: What are the differences?

What does front-end or back-end mean in a web or mobile design project? If these two terms come up very often even before the development phase, it is because they are particularly important in the construction of the digital project.

Let’s take the example of the design of a web application. Let’s imagine that we want to develop an application for exchanging and sharing BtoB files, between a chartered accountant, for example, and a contractor. In order to work, our application must have a user interface, for the accountant’s clients, and an administrator interface, which will be the accountant’s interface.

To develop such an application, you will need at least two types of web developers: the front-end developer, and the back-end developer. To understand where the latter will intervene, and what the back-end and front-end represent in a web project, let’s stay with our example.

Front-end development: design of the graphical user interface

The two interfaces on which the accountant and the client of the expert will interact are considered as front-end. Indeed, it is the visible part of the application, intended to be handled by a third party.

Front-end” and “back-end” should not be confused with “client interface” and “administrator panel”. In the graphic design of the former as well as the latter, the skills of a front-end developer will be necessary.

Indeed, he will set up the graphic elements that will allow the end user to find his way around the interface and take it easily in hand. He will also develop the interactions, animations, responsive design, … He will work together with at least one web designer and, ideally, a UX expert in order to deliver an ergonomic and playful interface.

The skills of the front-end developer are, at least :



– JavaScript

He can also rely on the following frameworks:

– jQuery

– Angular

– Bootstrap

– Foundation

– Semantic UI

– Pure…

The list is far from being exhaustive. There is a large number of libraries and frameworks (that you can consult on the Open-Source guide), some of them having specificities that make their reputation: lightness, UX ergonomics, type of project, … In any case, the front-end development of an application will generally require the choice of a framework in its design, for questions of cost, time and security.

Back-end development: the keystone of the web application

A beautiful interface remains an empty shell if a back-end development team does not intervene on our web application. In accordance with the specifications, the back-end development team will work on the development of the mobile application’s features.

The work of the back-end dev is invisible to the end user, but without his intervention, no application. The back-end team will build, develop and put in interaction three essential pillars to the functioning of the application:

– The hosting server

– The web application

– The database

The server is the hard disk on which your application, the front-end part, will be stored. All the files composing the pages, the design, the elements that build the visible part of your application.

The database, on the other hand, is built by the back-end developer in such a way as to store in specific tables all the data necessary for the functioning of the application (user ID, user rights, password storage, etc.).

In order for the database to be updated, modified, or for elements (new users, for example) to be integrated into the pre-existing database, the back-end developer will use dynamic languages, which will connect the database with the application.

For this, the back-end developer will tend to use:


– Ruby

– Python


For the same reasons of cost, speed and profitability as the front-end developer, the back-end dev generally uses frameworks such as :

– Symfony

– Django

– Ruby on Rails

– Angular

– Meteor

If, traditionally, PHP development is attributed to back-end development, this trend tends to change, especially thanks to the rise of Angular. Thus, it is not impossible for a back-end developer to move towards development in JS. These profiles are very much in demand.

How do back-end and front-end developers work together?

We have seen, globally, how each part of an application project, web or mobile, works. We know that the front-end will therefore concern the visible and interactive part, but that it relies on the work done on the submerged part of the iceberg, by the back-end developer.

In concrete terms, how will the back end and front-end developers work together? Let’s imagine that, on the administrator interface of our application, the accountant wants to create a new client account.

He will have to follow the following path, from the application:

– Log in

– Go to the add a user page

– Fill out a form to create a new user

– Validate it

At all these moments, the accountant will have called upon the work done both on the back end and on the front-end. Indeed, to connect, the end user will have to interact with a form (front-end), which will query the database to verify the accuracy of the information he enters (back-end).

He will then go to the user page and interact with it to open the form for creating a new user (front-end). He will then fill in the creation form (front-end), and by validating it, will allow the form to create a new entry in the database, which will allow his client to connect to the user interface (back-end).

The back-end team and the front-end team can work together in different ways. The front-end can focus on the UI (user interface) exclusively on the basis of the back-end development, which will have already built all interactions with the database.

In other cases, the back-end development will focus on the functional development of the database. This data is then passed on to the front-end developers who will use these calls to the database in their code.

In conclusion, there is sometimes a fine line between the front-end developer and the back-end developer. It is not uncommon for one to master part of the other’s field, as these two aspects of development are so closely linked. There is, moreover, a third category of developers, capable of applying their skills to both the back end and front-end: the full-stack developer.

The profile of the full-stack developer is all the more sought after by companies and agencies as he has a more global vision of the project and a wide range of skills. They can also be excellent consultants, because of their ability to put themselves in the shoes of a front-end or back-end developer, depending on the needs.

Would you like to get more information and support about back-end development? Contact our experience today.

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