Which Is More Difficult Frontend or Backend Development?
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Which Is More Difficult Frontend or Backend Development?

frontend vs backend web development. Which is easy?

Is front-end development easier than backend?

There are numerous points of view on this topic, and some people believe that one is significantly more difficult than the other. We will figure the significance in this post.

First things first, we will see what is what.

Front End Development:

front end developer portfolio with html, css, javascript

Front-end development is the practice of creating interactive UI elements such as text, buttons, forms, images, and every component you are seeing now on screen to read this post.

You might be wondering what technologies are used for front-end development. The first is HTML, which helps create the UI elements on the screen. The second is CSS, which is basically a set of rules to help you style your web pages. Any front end developer internship or course starts with HTML & CSS and goes all the way to modern frameworks.

A typical front end developer portfolio will have below skills:

  • • HTML & CSS
  • • Javascript
  • • JQuery
  • • Node.js
  • • Frameworks like React, Angular, Vue
  • • Basic UX

Back End Development:

backend developer technologies list

Back end development is a practice of making the user interface functionable, often referred as application program interfaces or API.

The backend coding powers and decides the behaviour of the front-end elements. Back-end development acts as a foundation for all platforms that are built on top of it.

A typical back-end engineer have below skills:
  • • Programming languages (Deep knowledge on Oops)
  • • SQL or NOSQL
  • • ReST architecture
  • • IPC techniques
  • • Spring or other frameworks
  • • Web services
  • • Cloud Technologies

We'll go over some of the easy and difficult aspects of both sides. But first, let's recap the origins of the modern web.

In the Beginning:

In 1969, ARPANET, the forerunner of the internet, sent a simple string as the first transmission between computers. Things continued to improve until Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web in the 1990s.

This was essentially a collection of web pages linked to from one another.

When compared to today's dynamic websites, those old ones were just collections of text, photos, and links in a static HTML file.

Two enhancements were implemented in response to the growing need for dynamism:

In Netscape Navigator in 1995, javascript was introduced on the front end, and later on in Internet Explorer, which improved the interactivity of web pages. 

Though it's still a long way off from where we are now, dynamism was added to the backend by requesting a different HTML page from the server each time rather than providing a static service.

As an example, if you did a search and found something on Google, the server would return a custom HTML page with the results. Client-side scripting had reached a stalemate, and Javascript was of little use. 

2005 to 2015: The Web-Development Timeline

Things began to change in 2005 with the introduction of Ajax, which allowed clients to continually poll the server for new data, hence increasing the page's dynamic nature.

Soon later, frameworks like jQuery were developed to make DOM manipulation easier as well as Ajax requests, especially while using multiple web browsers. 

At this point in time, most of the complexity related to web applications was located on the backend, with frontend clients being much simpler.  So at the time, backend development was indeed harder, because although the incompatibilities between different browsers were a serious issue in the frontend, the complexity of those clients was not even close to what we have today.

But things drastically changed when Angular, and then React, were introduced. Those front-end web frameworks became hugely popular in 2015, as they allowed developers to create the highly rich and complex web applications users wanted. 

Frond-End vs Back-End:

frontend vs backend web development. Which is easy?

Ten years ago, the front-end might have been easier, but as the power of client-side applications increased exponentially in  recent years, so did their complexity.

Just think about the incredible things you can now do in the browser that were impossible to do 15 years ago. So we really need to consider the current state of front-end development in order to effectively compare with Back-end. 

Getting Started with Front-end:

When it comes to getting started, front-end development is generally easier than backend. That’s because, in general, you only need a text editor or a simple online code editor to start experimenting with those frameworks. 

Of course, you might need to run a couple of commands in the terminal to setup the project and install  the dependencies, but it’s pretty manageable.

Getting Started with Back-end:

On the other hand, backend applications often require to setup local environments with databases and other services to actually experiment with the application. Of course, you might get away with SQLite at first, but that’s not always appropriate or even possible. 

In these scenarios, Docker is often used as a way to set up the local environment, and although it’s not particularly complex in most cases, it’s definitely an additional obstacle for a beginner.

Front-End - The Hard Part:

An area in which front-end is arguably harder than backend is state management. You see, unless your app serves hundreds of thousands of users, the backend can usually be structured as stateless server instances interfacing with a handful of services such as databases and caches. 

In this scenario, it’s reasonably easy to reason about the server logic, as it follows a “request in, response out” semantic. On the other hand, the frontend client has to deal with a state that is several orders of  magnitude more complex. Reasoning about state is really hard, that’s the reason why libraries like Redux were invented, to make this huge state management mess easier to handle.

Some more challenges in front-end are:

  • • A minor change can affect whole website
  • • Bugs are shooted to front-end engineers first
  • • To-do tasks are more

Of course, these aspects really depends on the application. Some might have complex front-ends and simple CRUD back-ends, whereas others might have simple front-ends and incredibly complex back-ends.

Back-end - The Hard Part:

In general, back-end is expansive and need more knowledge. You'll have to leverage application performance and scalability. 
  • • Toughness is progressive as website grows
  • • Requires knowledge in math
  • • Leverage performance and scalability
  • • Integration with Front-end

Who are more Responsible?

Another interesting topic is responsibility. Both front-end and back-end developers are hired to build great products, but back-end developers tend to have more responsibility.  

First of all, it’s much easier to make a catastrophic mistake as back-end engineer, as you are directly interacting with databases and other core services. Of course, there are a lot of best practices you can follow to limit the risk, but they are not always followed, especially in smaller or old school companies. 

Moreover, in smaller companies, the role of back-end engineer often overlaps with DevOps, making them also responsible for keeping the application running.

End-user Demand?

Both Frontend and Backend technologies have been evolving quickly in recent years due to the increasingly complex features demanded by users. On the frontend side, users wanted  richer interfaces. Just think about Google Docs or Figma, which are full-fledged applications running in the browser. 

On the backend side,  users wanted services to be always available, reliable, and fast. For example, 15 years ago,  it was completely normal to schedule down times for maintenance, but they are often considered unacceptable now. And that’s why tools like Kubernetes were created, to simplify the  creation of always-available services.

Learning Curve?

If you consider any web-development boot camp, back-end will have more time and attention. This doesn't mean that it is tough, but one cannot visualize data flow like in the front-end. 

Although the back-end is getting increasingly complex, front-end technologies tend to evolve at a quicker rate as well. For example, two years ago React hooks were introduced and completely changed the way React apps were built. But if you think about that, React only became popular 3 years  earlier.

So in a 4-year span, React developers had to relearn a lot of things. This is to say that front-end developers might need to study more in order to keep up with new technologies and stay relevant.

Bottom line, 

  • • Back-end - Learning a skill set can sustain for long run
  • • Front-end - You need to stay updated with latest technologies

Front end vs back end developer salary

This section has nothing to do with easeness of front and back but I just want to compare salaries too. 

Different job portals reported different average salaries. Why not we do average of all? Average of average salaries reported in Payscale, Glassdoor, and zipRecruiter are:

Avg. Front-end developer salary: $94,990
Avg. Back-end developer salary: $86,986

The above salaries are average of a typical entry level front-end and back-end developer to senior front-end & back-end developers. 


In general, front-end is easier to start.

Neither frontend nor backend is significantly more difficult to comprehend. They're just different things, and each has its own set of challenges.

More than anything, the level of difficulty on both sides will vary depending on the particular project.

There's a misconception that back-end engineers don't need to know anything about end users (which is wrong by the way). Back-end developers play a critical role in helping end users to accomplish their goals, and front-end developers and back-end developers work together to design technology that facilitates this.

I've seen some people asking, "Is front end development dying?", the answer is, "That will not happen in any near future."

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