Wait, Wait… What is a Full-stack Web Developer After All?

Full-stack Web Developer

Summary: a full-stack web developer is someone who has honed skills in both front-end web design/development and back-end/server coding. You can count on a full-stack web developer to design, code, implement and maintain a fully functional modern interactive website on his/her own (not just a static website with a few pages).

Full-stack Web Developer

With the ever evolvement of the almighty World Wide Web, new job functions are created virtually every day. Just a few years ago, you only needed a web designer to create the visual design in Photoshop and/or Dreamweaver and a web developer to code the front-end/back-end scripts and the website was ready to go. At that time, websites were charged based on the number of “pages” (a concept borrowed from print design).

Fast forward to the present, we now have (not a exhaustive list) :

  • visual designer
  • web designer
  • UI designer
  • UX designer
  • interaction designer
  • art director
  • front-end developer
  • back-end developer
  • web developer
  • mobile developer
  • database developer
  • database administrator
  • web master
  • web server administrator
  • SEO specialist
  • web analyst
  • web security professional
  • quality assurance tester
  • project manager
  • growth hacker

Several roles may be taken up by the same individual depending on the size of the company and the resources. Very large and profitable companies may gather experts from each field in their teams with a view to create the best-ever-possible web products of the world.

But normally, in the down-to-earth company, the web designer/developer distinction still applies. The web designer will be responsible for the visual/web/UI/UX/interaction design while the web developer will do the front-end coding/back-end coding/database administration/server setup/debugging/etc. However, problems always occur in areas when the two have to work together yet only either one takes responsible. Factors like miscommunications/false assumptions of job role and scope/misunderstanding of the technology/etc. will render the end product a subpar one.

This is where a full-stack web developer can fill the gap. A full-stack web developer masters the best of both worlds (or to a minimum understands both worlds). (S)He will be able to steer the web projects in the right direction utilizing the best practices and latest advancements in the technology. (S)He will design and code the whole web project themselves or supervise others to perform the tasks by overlooking the whole process from scratch to finish.

When websites and web applications become more and more interactive and sophisticated, understanding the technical capabilities of the systems and having an eye for artistic/usability judgement are critical to the success. So it is natural for web professionals to evolve to full-stack web developers in due course.

Designers will become more like programmers as programming becomes more like design.

However, designing and coding are two distinct skills that require different regions of the brain to master . The right brain is for visual and creativity and the left brain is for structure and organization. Designers are predominately right-brainers while coder left-brainers. So there is still only a handful of full-stack web developer on the market .

Benefits of Being a Full-Stack Web Developer

  1. You can build a professional website from scratches for your employer.
  2. You can be a competent member in cross-functional Agile teams where you can perform both front-end and back-end development. As Agile project management is fast becoming the norm for web application development and UI/UX is gaining in importance for the success or failure of any web application, you will be seen as a valuable team member contributing to the success of projects.
  3. You can start your own website design and development business.
  4. You can build your own websites and monetize them through Adsense, affiliate marketing, selling your own products and more. The best of this is the flexibility of earning extra money alongside your regular job. There are many great examples of web developers turning this business into a career and quitting their regular jobs.
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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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27 Responses

  1. Devlin says:

    Is there any course (Beginner –> Advanced) that you would advise for a beginner like me to explore to become a full stack developer.

  2. Dylan says:

    Great article, thank you very much for the explanation. I am just now beginning my journey with full stack dev. I have been using WordPress with elementor and would like to become more efficient in my coding skills and server management.

  3. Your blog is really a guide to people who are willing to learn more on this topic. Thanks

  4. Vishal says:

    Is it true that full stack developers are eating the jobs of UI/UX designers?

    • Edward Chung says:

      Yes or no. For the simple website, there would be the case. However, if for an enterprise-grade website, UI/UX designers are still irreplaceable as they are the experts in the field. Full-stack developers are sometimes considered Jack of all trades.

  5. Jenny says:

    Thanks, I finally know what I am now!!!! I started programming on punch cards in the 70’s, morphed to web dev using just html in the 90’s, incorporated css in the early 2000’s, hated JavaScript snowflakes when JS came into the scene and it had security flaws, learned various databases and created many professional websites with full stack expertise. But I didn’t understand where my “middle brain” (GUI with right brain, DB and server side coding with left) expertise fit into the world of specialization. Thanks for this great article!

  6. Paul P says:

    Thanks. Very informative and very inspirational. I have been skirting around the idea of programming since Pong! Someone close to me once said, “you have to start somewhere”. What words of advise you have for someone who is afraid to take the first step to programming. Thanks.

  7. Ihanshi says:

    As a recent computer science graduate, I was intrigued as to what a full stack developer is. Fortunately,your post cleared all my doubts about the field. I am more equipped to pursue the profession. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Avantika says:

    An informative one. As a fresher, i gained extensive knowledge on the role of a full stack developer.. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Pud Cusac says:


    Nice article. Just wanted to make a quick note that this left brain/right brain thing has been forcefully debunked by science:
    (quick article) https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/right-brainleft-brain-right-2017082512222
    (whole book, with all the details) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QPHURT6/

    I liked your post though 🙂


  10. faisal zia says:

    Thank you, a quite helpful topic to know what a full stack developer actually do?

  11. TequeñoSamurai says:

    I feel like the more I learn about Full Stack, the less I want to work for a company. And become a full time freelancer.

  12. Raj says:

    Does taking online courses for becoming full stack developer useful?I mean to say will the beginners have any chance of becoming freelancer just by learning the basics?

    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi Raj,

      It really depends. But taking online courses will build give a solid foundation for beginners to flourish. I myself find online courses useful. Thanks!

  13. heping says:

    thank you!

  14. Sathya says:

    I found this information very useful. Thank you Edward 🙂

  15. Mostafa Elsayh says:

    What do you mean with honed skills?