The Difference Between Front-End and Back-End Programming

The key to success for managing software projects is to have an understanding of your developer’s skill set and in which scope of work they specialize. Knowing which person is best suited for particular tasks guarantees that your project will finish on time, using the right technologies.

As a front end developer producing web pages for clients, the last thing I ever thought of was learning programming code. I was used to building static web pages in HTML with no data moving about. For almost three years now, I have worked for Palm Beach Software Design, and within that time span, I have picked up on some front-end and back-end design and development tips that come in handy for to make world-class websites. What exactly is the difference between front-end and back-end development and why should you, the client-user, care? 

Front End Development
Front end development usually refers to the viewable part of the program or website that the user sees and works with. Some people may refer to Front-End Development as “UX” or “User Experience”. This includes menus, popups, tables, colors, and transitions, in short, anything that makes the web page look good or interesting. Front-end development can also encompass responsive design and basic JavaScript, which means your web page will render properly on the different devices and screen sizes on which it is viewed. 

Back End Development
Back End Development is everything else that makes the application run, the “actions,” the storing and retrieval of data, and the general workflow and communication of the system. This includes transferring data between pages, displaying data from the database, and other non-visible activities such as security and workflow. 

Optimize Your Investment
At Palm Beach Software Design, our developers and designers work together with the client to understand the project, will find solutions efficiently and easily.

A few tips for clients who are purchasing custom applications and websites:

  1. Make a list. A written list of everything your application or website needs to accomplish will allow you to break each requirement into bite-sized chunks that you can discuss with your design team.
  2. Draw a picture. Sketch out boxes of high-level functionality using lines and arrows to connect the boxes (and display the workflow). Designers and developers need to understand how the application functions via the workflow before starting the design. Having a preliminary list and/or sketched diagram makes for clear expectations, but be sure to ask lots of questions of project managers and designers in the meetings prior to contract; this knowledge will allow your design team to create functional pages that are smooth and user-friendly.
  3. Recognize this as a collaborative creative process.
    A preliminary list is helpful and professional, but having an iron-clad vision of what you want does your company a disservice. The best results come from a creative process that involves both you and the design team. Creation is a dynamic process that incorporates some changes along the way and it is common for the list of desired functions to grow as you work with the design and development team. As you go through your list, the design/development team will ask questions based on both their front-end and back-end coding knowledge that will suggest changes that will allow the code to run fast or save time and money in development. 

I used to think user-friendly pages and beautiful designs were all that were needed for a great application. However, knowing the mechanics behind the pages, and how data is transferred throughout applications is beautiful in its own way and has clear advantages for the client. 

At Palm Beach Software Design we create, in conjunction with our clients, world-class custom software applications that include beautiful front-end and back-end development.  We want to hear about your next project!  Please call us now and let us help ensure that your next project is an absolute success!

Crystal Darin is a Senior Web Designer/UX Champion at Palm Beach Software Design, Inc.  She can be reached at