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What’s the Difference Between Frontend & Backend in Web Development?

Written by The Magna Technology Team on June 12, 2019

When we build websites for our clients, they often ask us what “frontend” and “backend” refer to. Unless you’re a beginning web designer, you don’t need to know the details. But, it’s helpful to be aware of what we’re talking about when we build and manage your website. That’s why we’ve put together this simple guide on the differences between frontend and backend programming.

What is Frontend Development?

The frontend of a website is everything you see when you interact with a website on your browser. It includes all user experiences, such as buttons, colors, text, images and more. Frontend development is different from web design, however, because it deals with the functions of these elements rather than the way they look and feel.

All websites need frontend programming, but they don’t necessarily need backend. Let’s look at an example. Shelley is starting a babysitting service and she wants to direct parents to a single source of information. She creates a website that has a short bio about herself, her contact information and a few photos. All that is needed for Shelley’s website is frontend technologies.

What is Backend Development?

The backend of a website, also known as the server-side, is the part that you don’t see. If a site changes information all the time, it’s considered a dynamic website. Dynamic sites need backend and frontend development, as the two sides continuously exchange information.

Using the example from above, let’s say that Shelley is ready to expand her website by offering a contact form and option to reserve a babysitting time. To share this information, the frontend of the website would need to communicate with the backend. Shelley’s site would also need a database to retrieve, edit, organize and save information from her customers.


When working with clients, we usually build sites with both frontend and backend technologies. Most clients have products and services that they are selling and require this functionality. Hopefully we’ve answered your questions and helped you better understand how frontend and backend programming work together.

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