Backend or frontend – what's your perfect fit? Andy, Head of Engineering (Insurance Products) and Igor, Staff Frontend Engineer, have sat down to discuss the differences and similarities between backend and frontend development
Hi, you two! How would you describe the difference between backend and frontend to a child?
Igor: Frontend is a TV set. Backend is the studio where the TV programme is filmed.
Andy: That’s a great way of putting it. You could also consider a car – the way you interact with it is, you open the door, adjust the seat, turn on the radio and use the gears, gas, and steering wheel to get somewhere. This is the frontend part. All the things happening while you are driving (mostly fuel powering an engine), that’s the backend. I’m not sure if this is appropriate for a child though (laughs).
Now in technical terms …
Igor: The “front” part in the “frontend” name means that this is the part of the system that the user interacts with directly. It’s in front of them (like a website or a mobile application). So, the frontend naturally focuses a lot on building user interfaces and user experience. The backend is the part of the system that stays “in the back”. It focuses on processing and storing data, implementing the business requirements according to which the data is processed, etc. The user never interacts with the backend directly. In very simple terms, the frontend retrieves data from the backend and displays it to the user, renders user interfaces to let the user perform different kinds of actions that are converted into requests sent to the backend, where they are processed.
Andy: Each comes with its very own challenges, but they are very much interconnected.
What do you focus on in your current roles?
Igor: I am a Staff Frontend Engineer and at the moment I work in a squad focused on Buying Experience. I help other frontend developers (as well as product managers and designers) refine the most important or complex feature concepts and provide feedback on them. I take part in making key architectural decisions in the frontend infrastructure, help my teammates identify and fix technical issues, and try to ensure that the quality and the standards in the frontend codebase are kept high.
Andy: And I currently am the Head of Engineering of the Insurance Product squads, among other things. I’m mostly supporting the teams to achieve the business goals and individuals with their career development. I’m also involved in planning and thinking about the technical future of the respective systems.
What was your highlight with software development at Getsafe so far?
Andy: I’m not going to lie, that’s a heavy question (laughs). The hackathon in July for sure. Another thing I really like is that we worked on optimising our technical capabilities, allocating customers even more accurate risk profiles. I guess in general I really like the development that happened over the last two years. We are far from being perfect, but I think the improvements considering the team size is simply incredible.
Igor: If I had to pick one thing, I’d say our buying flows infrastructure and how it has been evolving over time, the good decisions and the mistakes we made, and the learnings that came from that.
Now, what would you say a candidate should bring to the table in order to become a successful part of your respective teams?
Igor: I believe that in this respect there is not much difference between frontend and backend engineers. Even though the technologies on both ends differ, the key software development principles are the same. Therefore, in the first place we are looking for great engineers with good problem solving skills and a great sense of ownership. Of course, things like a good eye for design or extensive experience with this or that framework can be a plus, but usually they are not a determining factor for being a successful part of our frontend team.
Andy: Yes, I also think it basically comes down to an interest in building things professionally, a willingness to learn, but especially to take ownership and responsibility for what we build.
Thanks for the insights, you guys. Anything else you’d like to share?
Igor: We are hiring! If you are a talented software engineer (or know someone who is) send us your CV. We’d be happy to have more amazing people in our team.
If you are interested in becoming a part of the tech team at Getsafe, check out our career page:
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