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Sloan's Inbox: How important is understanding backend as a website designer?

Hey folks! Sloan, DEV Moderator and mascot. I'm back with another question submitted by a DEV community member. 🦥

For those unfamiliar with the series, this is another installment of Sloan's Inbox. You all send in your questions, I ask them on your behalf anonymously, and the community leaves comments to offer advice. Whether it's career development, office politics, industry trends, or improving technical skills, we cover all sorts of topics here. If you want to send in a question or talking point to be shared anonymously via Sloan, that'd be great; just scroll down to the bottom of the post for details on how.

Let's see what's up this week...

Today's question is:

I'm quite intimidated by the thought of learning backend development. I'm still fairly new to everything software development and have been scoping out all I need to learn development-wise to be a successful web developer. This is the area that I find most daunting!

I have a design background and am most interested in getting into website design. I like the idea of laying out a webpage for a client and helping them to create something visually pleasing and easy to navigate. I think I would do well at this, but I know I still have a lot to learn. 😅

I know there are CMSes and website builders out there that can help handle some of this for me, but I also want to further my programming knowledge so that I'm not confined to templates. I'm curious if anybody can help guide me in what I need to know to get going. And, is my fear of backend development really warranted? 😱

Share your thoughts and let's help a fellow DEV member out! Remember to keep kind and stay classy. 💚

Want to submit a question for discussion or ask for advice? Visit Sloan's Inbox! You can choose to remain anonymous.

Top comments (2)

magnificode profile image
Dominic Magnifico

Backend development, much like frontend has changed dramatically over the years. One of the nice aspects of this, is that both frontend and backend rely much more on JavaScript these days.

That said, the better understanding of JavaScript you have, the more you'll be able to comprehend and work with backend technology.

Of course, the deeper you go the more intimidating it gets as is the case with most things. But leveraging knowledge you already have can make building within "backend technologies" easier.

The other thing that can help is getting a baseline understanding of backend ideologies and best practices. Learning about the best practices around building an API or Data Structure will help you greatly as well.

Just gotta take things one small chunk at a time!

webbureaucrat profile image

My takes are good news and bad news: The good news is I really can't think of any reason why you'd need to know backend to be a designer. The bad news is that front end is a lot harder to learn in my opinion.

Like, you start with JavaScript, which is a kind of a difficult language because it is burdened by a lot of bad, arbitrary decisions that were made at the beginning of the language. But then it gets worse because with front-end JS you have to know the differences between the implementations of that language across browsers. Add the challenges of CSS and broad topics like accessibility and SEO... As a back-end dev who's also done full stack, back-end is much easier IMO.

So on the one hand, if you don't think you'll like back-end, I don't think you have to learn it. But on the other hand, if you have learned or are learning front-end and don't find it too challenging, maybe you should try your hand at back-end. You might be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is.