How do I know if I need a back-end developer?


I know the line is blurred between front end and back end developers, but at what point (most of the time) does my project go from MAYBE requiring a back end developer, to definitely needing one. Are there certain features....User Registration? Database? CMS?

Web Dev

asked Sep 5 '11 at 14:25
182 points
  • You question is not clear. You need specific type of developers when you need specific type of features. – Ross 12 years ago

2 Answers


It can vary, obviously, but often designers will be capable of doing basic front-end development. On the other hand, any back-end developer worth their salt will be able to do the front-end as well, provided they have a design to work with.

If all you need is the front-end, ie, the static pages, then no, you likely don't need any work done on the back-end. If you do need any type of CMS or anything custom that relies on a database, then yes, you will need a developer capable of working on the back-end, or at least one familiar with your CMS of choice. When looking for a developer, save yourself some time and go ahead and get one who can do both.

I recommend separating the design and development pieces. Have a designer create a design for you, and then get a developer to cut it and skin your website. The majority of the time, when dealing with individuals versus a firm or group, this will get you a better result. The exception may be if your site is static and fairly simple, the designer may be fully capable of going ahead and doing everything for you.

answered Sep 5 '11 at 14:47
1,156 points


Backend developers are usually people who do heavy database stuff, build service oriented servers, program EJBs or EAI servers. If you want to cluster something, you probably need an Backend engineer.

Frontend developers are usually people who work with UIs. Be it Java Swing, JavaScript or something like that.

But the separation is not really clear. A frontend developer sometimes programs f.e. in PHP and operates on server side, doing sql selects or builds up some services for ajax requests. This is backend programming, but most people can do it.

I think you should go with a backend engineer if you plan with clustered NoSQL or relational databases, integrating several servers together or something like that.

If you program with PHP and use a cloud announced as project as a service, you probably need not an expert in backend programming.

answered Sep 5 '11 at 23:31
3,590 points
  • This person is entirely incorrect. – Jason 12 years ago
  • No, this person is not. Where are your arguments Jason? Btw, I am working as backend engineer for ~8 years, the other 5 years I was used to work with frontend technologies. – Christian 11 years ago
  • I've been a programmer for about twenty years and this just isn't the distinction I've typically seen. For example, you need a programmer to make a Java Swing GUI, period. A frontend "designer" can't make anything in Java, and typically can't use JavaScript either. Most designs I've seen come in the form of a photoshop file, and a programmer is then expected to "transcribe" the general design into HTML/CSS/JS on the frontend, served by something on the backend, e.g. Ruby, PHP, whatever. Clustered or not, SQL or NoSQL, relational or not, ACID or not, you need a programmer for any database work. – Jason 11 years ago
  • I don't mean to be a jerk, man, but your writing reeks of newbie trying to use big words. I totally commend your efforts but maybe it would make sense to put a disclaimer about your level of familiarity with some of these subjects. I don't know any designers who can put together a single-node MySQL database backend with dynamic pages written in PHP/RoR/some such, and that's what 99% of startup projects entail. This guy needs a programmer if he's going to make a web *application* -- he can stick with just a designer if it's nothing more than a marketing site with flat content. – Jason 11 years ago
  • Jason, i did NOT say Frontend DESIGNER. I wrote frontend DEVELOPER. I am used to differ between these two roles. I +1 what you said on designers, but frontend developers are working with PHP, jQuery and other frontend related technologies. They don't deal with design at all. – Christian 11 years ago

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