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Product Management

Front End (In a Website)


What is a front end (in a website)?


Definition of a front end (in a website)

The front end of a website is everything the user either sees or interacts with when they visit the website. It is responsible for the total look and feel of an online experience.

While the term may sound a little technical, website front ends are really an everyday encounter for almost all of us. If you’ve opened an app to check the weather, or scrolled through today’s headlines on a website, you’ve interacted with a front end. 

Put simply, the front end is a combination of two different elements: the graphic design (the look) and the user interface (the feel). Each of these is created independently, with most of the technical work going into the user interface using web languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.


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How is the front end developed?

Creating a front end experience isn’t a one-person job. In fact, it takes a group of people to create a website that looks as good as it feels to use. 

Most often, this group will be comprised of a front end developer — whose job it is to actually write the code for the functions of the website — and a UX or UI developer, who will work on the visuals of the website. 

The front end experience usually goes through a few different stages of development, including the creation of wireframes (rough outlines of the user flow), prototypes (working examples of the site), and finally user testing.

What is the backend?

The backend, also called server-side, is the infrastructure that supports the front end and is made up of parts of a piece of software regular users can’t see. The backend is basically a website’s brain. 

The backend includes the server that provides data whenever requested, the database where that data is organized, and the application that delivers that information. 

To turn a new website into a dynamic web application (a website whose content may change depending on what is in its database and that can be changed by user input), you will need to add more backend components. This is different from a static website, where the content often remains the same and doesn't need a database.

The backend developers handle everything that doesn't involve providing a user interface. This can include writing APIs, building libraries, and utilities. They make it easier to communicate the presentation layer and business layer. Compared to frontend web designers, they play a key and highly collaborative role in web development. 

To put it simply, backend developers create code to ensure everything functions correctly in the frontend. To ensure the website operates effectively, they typically spend more time than web designers figuring out logistics and putting algorithms into place. 

Frontend vs. backend: how are they different?

Although they are very different, the frontend and backend are come together to create a functional website.

Frontend development focuses on the graphical aspects of a website or app, AKA the client or user-side. Backend development concentrates on the server-side. Together, they develop a dynamic website that lets users make purchases, use contact forms, and engage in interactive activities. Examples of dynamic websites are Facebook, Netflix, and PayPal.

Frontend and backend also use different programming languages. Frontend developers use CSS, HTML, and JavaScript, while backend developers work with Python, Ruby, PHP, C++, Node.js, and JavaScript.

Backend and frontend developers also use different frameworks. Frontend developers use frameworks and libraries like AngularJS, React.js, jQuery, and Sass. Meanwhile, backend developers work with Express, Django, Rails, Spring, and Laravel.

If you’re considering a job in web development, it’s good to know that backend and frontend developers often have different salary ranges. The median US salary for frontend developers is around $120,000, with a range of $106,000 - $130,000. Backend developers are paid a little less, making about $105,000, with a range of $91,000 - $120,000.

What is a Front End

General FAQ

What is a front end developer?
A front end developer is responsible for bringing a digital product’s user interface design to life, converting web-design files into the relevant code (HTML, CSS, etc.). Everything that a user clicks, reads, views, or watches have been put in place by a front-end developer.
What is the difference between a front end developer and a back end developer?
A front end developer focuses on all of the design system components that a user interacts with and sees. Everything from menus and colors to animations is running properly due to the front end developer’s skill. A back end developer essentially works behind the scenes of a website, focusing on server-side tasks. They work on scripting, databases, website architecture — the parts that determine the functionality and performance of a website.
What is a front end alignment?
Front end alignment refers to the process of ensuring the requirements of a website or app’s design align with user experience. While a product will feature certain branding or functional elements to maintain consistency with existing products, these shouldn’t hinder the user. Front end alignment is crucial to create products that serve the business’s and user’s needs alike.
How to become a front end developer?
The most important step in the process of becoming a front end developer is learning HTML and CSS to a high standard. Online courses are available, and once you have the essential skills, try building websites. Experiment with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to hone your capabilities. It’s also vital to explore responsive and mobile design. Most people go online via their smartphones daily, and websites have to be optimized for smooth performance on any device. Cross-browser development is a useful skill to harness, too. Aspiring front end developers should become well-versed in CMS platforms and testing processes. It takes time, but the effort will pay off when you’re creating websites that deliver a great user experience.
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