Frontend coders versus backend – What’s the difference?

Coders of all levels will constantly hear about frontend and backend coding. What exactly is the difference between the two – and which is better? The short answer; neither is better. Frontend code is the part of an application or website that’s viewable by the user – the nice, colourful bit that the user will interact with. The backend is more intrinsic. The is basically the “brain” of the site or app.
A good place to practice your own front and back-end coding is setting up a simple website using WordPress.

Frontend Coders

So frontend coders deal with the user’s interaction with your website or app. If you are looking at a website, the layout and buttons to click come from frontend coding. It’s the part that’s visible to the user – the part that they interact with.
Frontend coders bridge the gap between the back-end code and the design. A frontend coder will take the final designs of the website or app from the web designer and code it to the frontend code, which enables the back-end developer to build the functionality of the product around it.
Coders who deal with the frontend will typically be concerned with things like the layout, typography and colours used.

Backend Coding

Backend coding, then, is the “brain” of the app or website. The backend code will never be visible to the user – but everything they do will come from the backend. Backend code interacts with a server to return user-ready results.
A back-end developer will take frontend ready code and implement it so that it is functionable on the website or app. In other words, anything that is clicked on in the frontend code sends a request to the backend code with returns the results to the frontend.
Coders who deal with the backend will be more concerned about using specific languages (MySQL, PHP, etc.)
The Treehouse Blog has a good post about front and backend coding in plain, simple language for those who find it a bit overwhelming deciding which avenue they want to take in their careers.


Okay, so now the difference between the two is clear. To sum up, frontend code is dealt with by the web developer, whereas backend code is dealt with by the web programmer. The frontend is what you see; the backend is how it all works. Still confused? Check out this video, which runs through the two and shows you how they’re used.

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