I used to think that you were either a web designer or a web developer. Or maybe you were one of those rare unicorns who did both. But either way, you either worked on the design of the site, or the code that made it work.
And then I started seeing all these job listings asking for “front end developers” or “back end developers” and even “full stack developers.” Um. What the heck is a full stack developer?
As the Web has grown more complex and as more becomes possible on the Internet, developers have gotten more specialized. That means that web development now means a lot of different things depending on what a web developer specializes in. Here are the three main categories:
- front end development (the visible parts of a website or app)
- back end development (the “under the hood” databases and infrastructure)
- full stack development (a hybrid of both). Full stack can apply to a web stack, mobile stack, or a native application stack (i.e. software programs for specific devices)
To understand what each of the web developer specialties (or in the case of full stack web developers, non-specialties) are, we’ve created a guide breaking them all down, along with the skills you need to learn to become a full stack developer—if that’s your thing.
Read on for more insight into what front end, back end, and full stack developers do (and why the lines between them are getting really blurry).