If you’ve ever dabbled in web design, I’m sure you’ve heard of the terms frontend and backend. Many of you may already be familiar with what they mean. But for those who aren’t yet, especially those who just got started, this one is for you.
Imagine your typical business website.
You’ll see the company’s name and logo up top, of course. Then, you’ll see what the company is all about, the services they offer, and even how they’re better than their competition. You’ll also see the benefits you can derive from their products and services. Perhaps you’ll even read short testimonials by previous customers, telling you about their good experiences.
And of course, there’s also the proverbial icing on the cake – how the site looks. The colours, layout, animations, how the buttons react when clicked, and so on. And there’s also how the shopping cart behaves if the site offers online purchasing.
This is the frontend.
The frontend comprises the elements that you can see and interact with in the website: buttons, links, dropdown menus, behaviours, and animations. These aspects guide the user into where he wants to go, as well as allowing him to explore the many areas of the website.
The frontend is also like decorations in an office. It attracts people, gets their attention, and gets them curious. If the site is well-designed, operates smoothly, and is pleasant to look at, chances are more people will visit that site.
What’s the backend?
The backend is like the clockwork mechanism of a website. They’re the gears and springs that are hidden in the background. They’re the plugins and other components responsible for serving the user’s requests.
For example, a site has a page where customers can book appointments. The backend of this page is the booking system, which records the customer’s information, logs the booking date and time, and informs the customer via email that the booking is successful. The backend would also be responsible for closing off time slots that are already booked, so that only one customer can book per time slot.
You can customise the backend to suit customers’ needs. Usually, in building websites, there are several plugins you can use, each one providing a specific function. Combining many different plugins for one site is common, until you get the functionality that is needed.
Which one is more important?
Both, of course. Take a look at a clock: it has a face and hands that you can see, and it also has gears behind them that you don’t see. But these gears make the hands turn. Take away one of those parts, and the clock can no longer tell you the correct time. If there’s only the clock face and hands (the frontend) without the gears, the hands will have no way to move. Conversely, if there’s only the gears (the backend) without the clock hands, there is no way for you to tell what time it is.
Similarly, in a website, the frontend and backend must both work together to provide good user experience. If customers have a lot of trouble using the site, they likely would just click away. Don’t let that happen!
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