Frontend Explained: IT, Software Development & Technology



You are looking for a professional frontend developer who can give your website or other digital projects a user-friendly interface, implement applications and features, and positively impact the overall user experience. The “front” of a project is a key criterion for its success – as the frontend is the part that the end consumer interacts with, as opposed to the backend.

What Is The Frontend?

A digital project, whether it’s software or a website, consists of two major components: the frontend and the backend. The backend remains hidden from end-users and primarily serves employees for content management. On the other hand, the frontend is, in a way, the presentation layer of your project. For this reason, both terms are sometimes simply referred to as the “front” (frontend) and the “underneath” (backend) in German.

The presentation layer is always visible to the end-user, and it is where they utilize the various functions and features of the project, such as ordering products in an online store or reading information. The page you see here, along with this blog article, is the frontend – as well as the navigation at the top of your screen, all the images, and, after you log in, the respective platform overview for customers or freelancers.

In a frontend, two professions usually come together – that of the designer/web designer and that of the programmer. While the web designer takes care of creating graphics, color schemes, and fonts, the programmer is responsible for the technical implementation of the interface, which can be based on CSS, JavaScript, and/or HTML. However, the distribution of these tasks is not 50/50 – there can be more web designers familiar with the conception and creation of the frontend, while programmers do the majority of their work in the backend. Nevertheless, there are intersections between the two.


  • Frontends are used everywhere in information technology, on websites as well as in computer games or with databases and text editing programs.

  • It has a direct impact on the user experience and must therefore appeal to the end consumer, as well as being intuitively usable.

  • With regard to future search engine optimization, the frontend is just as important as interaction rates.

  • Frontends today must be designed for multiple devices (desktop and mobile) due to the widespread use of mobile devices.

How Does Frontend Differ From Backend?

As already explained, the frontend is seen by the end-user, while the backend is not. However, everything that is later visible on the presentation layer in the frontend is managed in the backend. So, both parts are inevitably closely intertwined, even if the end-user doesn’t need to be concerned about this – their main concern is that the software or website interface functions flawlessly.

Did you know? While the competencies between both areas are normally separated, there are Full-Stack developers who can comprehensively conceptualize both areas. In a separate blog post, we provide additional information on this topic.

A content management system illustrates the difference between both very well: While employees in the backend can add products in an online shop, blog posts, or other content, the end-user only sees the frontend of the CMS – it is a system that produces different representations depending on the access level. The same applies to databases: The user only sees the respective fields where they can enter data. The backend, along with the connected database, “fetches” this data and processes it further, without this process being visible to the end-user.

The actual technical part of an application does not take place in the frontend; instead, the frontend merely communicates user inputs to the backend. Processing then occurs there, including using database languages like MySQL, API interfaces, and generally programming languages.

Some examples of these programming languages are:

  • Python

  • Java

  • JavaScript

  • C#

You can find a listing of programming languages based on market share here.

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How Does Frontend Development Differ From Web Design?

Both areas have intersections, but the focus differs. A web designer, as the job title suggests, is primarily skilled in design – their focus is on the visual aspects. Web designers understand how colors affect people, how to visually combine individual elements attractively, and how to represent brand characteristics digitally. Their primary tools are software like Adobe Photoshop and similar tools.

On the other hand, frontend development, executed by a frontend developer, is more technically oriented. Frontend Developers are proficient in markup and web programming languages such as CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. They are familiar with technologies like Ajax and know the quirks of different browsers that the frontend must be compatible with. Additionally, frontend developers often have knowledge of search engine optimization. Their task is also to create a positive user experience (UX, not synonymous with UI!). This role can also be taken on by a UX designer, who works in collaboration with web designers and frontend developers to handle specific tasks.

Both subfields and professions are also subject to external regulations. For example, the necessary cookie consents required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Germany can impact the user experience negatively, as reported by around one-third of survey respondents. However, web designers and frontend developers have to implement these consents because they are mandated by law. The implementation of such features is typically the responsibility of frontend developers, while web designers may contribute their visual expertise to make them aesthetically appealing.

In simplified terms, we can say that web design primarily deals with the visual components, including graphics and color schemes, while frontend development uses code to create an interactive presentation layer.

What Are The Applications Of Frontend Development?

The applications are as diverse as IT applications in general. It is essential to consider that external users, such as end customers and consumers, only have access to the frontend, and they can interact with the system only if the frontend provides the necessary foundation.

Some common applications of frontend development include:

  • Database applications: The frontend facilitates data input and presents the output, such as tables or charts.

  • Software: The frontend is what users interact with in applications, such as selecting a weapon in a video game or choosing tools in Adobe Photoshop.

  • Compilers: The frontend is the first stage of the compilation process, where program code is translated into binary code.

  • Content Management Systems (CMS): Frontend allows users to interact with the system, where the backend processes their inputs and displays content.

  • Speech synthesis: Similar to compilers, the frontend processes the text input before the backend takes over.

  • Web-based applications and native/cross-platform apps: These applications can have separate interfaces for end-users and administrators.

Client-Server applications: The frontend represents the applications running on the server and also includes configuration options, while the client-side handles the frontend.

What Are The Components Of Frontend Development?

It includes everything that end-users see and interact with in software or websites – collectively forming the frontend itself, often referred to as the presentation layer. Typical components of frontend development include:

  • Design

  • Input fields and forms

  • Menus and navigation elements

  • Posts, pages, media, and graphics

  • Interactive elements like like/share buttons or comment sections

  • Clickable and non-clickable elements

Since the role of frontend development is to bridge the gap between technical programming and the user interface, everything that users can interact with or see must be part of the frontend. In short, everything visible is part of the frontend.

Which Programming Languages Are Used?

In general, Front-End developers use a combination approach, where they combine multiple programming languages and, if necessary, Front-End frameworks to create (web) applications. These are:

  • HTML

  • CSS

  • JavaScript

For a website, it could look like this: HTML is used to create the basic page layout, JavaScript is used to incorporate specific interactive elements and features, and CSS is used to manage both the visual structure and formatting. For this reason, a JavaScript developer is often skilled in other programming languages or frameworks as well.

In addition to these, there are Front-End frameworks that create specific conditions. There are several different Front-End frameworks, and some well-known solutions include:

  • React

  • Svelte

  • jQuery

  • Ember

  • Semantic UI

  • Vue.js

  • Backbone

  • Node.js

According to this statistic with 71,802 respondents, Node.js and React are leading the pack among Front-End frameworks, followed by jQuery and Express at a greater distance.

Frontend Frameworks

What Does It Have To Do With SEO?

Front-End has a direct impact on search engine optimization from both a technical and user-oriented perspective. There are mutual dependencies because only a technically flawless functioning website will be positively received and used by end customers.

Examples of how the Front-End quality affects search engine optimization include:

  • Lean and clean HTML code to favor loading times and since errors in the HTML code are negatively assessed by search engines.

  • Responsive Front-End designs ensure that the website is always optimally displayed on different monitor sizes as well as on various mobile devices.

  • Structured data and accessibility can increase clicks on the website and are positively perceived by search engines.

  • Breadcrumb navigation makes it easier for end-users to navigate the website and its content.

  • Internal linking can help search engine crawlers understand the structure of a website.

  • Search engine-friendly URLs with keywords can increase the relevance of the respective subpages.

  • The Front-End is also responsible for the correct display of all content, which is also important for search engines.

What Makes A Good Frontend?

A good frontend appeals to the target audience, immediately conveys what they can do in the application or on the website, and enables seamless navigation through all content and features. High-quality frontends also lay the foundation for high interaction rates, which, for instance, are important for search engine optimization since user behavior (such as the number of visited pages, bounce rates, and dwell time) also factors into a website’s search engine ranking. Strong performance, clean code, responsive designs, the use of structured data, and social media interfaces are further characteristics of a high-quality frontend.

The frontend is the presentation layer of an application or, for example, a website. It encompasses everything that the end-user sees or elements with which they can interact.

While the frontend is a presentation interface that is visible to and interacted with by the end-user, the backend processes the information and transforms it into the visible frontend. The backend is not accessible to the end consumer.

In addition to various frontend frameworks, programming languages like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS are commonly used in frontend development.

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Sören Elser ElevateX GmbH

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Sören Elser

Co-founder of ElevateX GmbH and your contact for the strategic use of freelancers.

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