For most people, hearing the terms 'frontend' and 'backend' development is already a sign to tune out of the conversation. The sheer amount of jargon involved in discussing web development can be overwhelming for people to learn about — but knowing the basics of web development is crucial for making decisions for your company's website.
To start, let's break down what a backend database is and why you need one in layman's terms.
Why Your Company Needs a Backend Database
Before we can explain why a backend database is crucial, let's explain what it is. A backend database is a place to store data that users access through a separate application. This means that the data is stored in one application, but you query the information using a separate application. Since they're two applications, your backend database won't keep records of what users search.
For example, when a customer performs a search on your website, they use the back-end database to access the information about your products or services. Your database stores all of the information like price, keywords, picture, and description.
You might not hear the term 'backend database' often. Enterprise database systems frequently employ the client-server model. This model automatically employs a backend database. For smaller database systems, you have the other option of using search programming within the database, meaning that you only use one application to store and retrieve data.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, these are the terms we'll be using.
Front End Developing
The opposite of backend developing, front end developing refers to working with the part of your company's website that customers can see and interact with. Manipulating parts of your website that users can see is front-end development.
As the inverse of front-end developing, backend developing deals with the parts of your company's website that users can't see or interact with. This includes the database, server, and certain parts of coding, like adding keywords for each web page.
The backend of a website is composed of a database, a backend application, and a server. The server runs the application, the database stores all of your information. The back-end application runs interference between your server and the database, communicating requests and queries through server-side scripts.
Server-side scripts are the building blocks for the backend application. They are responsible for communicating between the database and the server so that users can run searches on your website and find what they're looking for or update new information. These scripts also kick into gear whenever a user clicks a button, navigates around your website, or enters new information.
For example, if a user enters their credit card and shipping information in their account, the front end, the form where the user enters the information, contacts the server-side scripts with the entered data. The server-side scripts take the data to the backend application. The information is logged into the server and then given back to the server-side script to take it to the database and ensure that everything has been properly updated.
Depending on your IT department's preferences and what type of application they are working on, they can choose any one of numerous possible coding languages. Programming language can affect things like how much code they need to complete a task, the application's performance, how large the files are once completed, and what other applications it is compatible with.
Two Linguistic Styles
Generally, coding languages can be divided into one of two linguistic categories: procedural programming or object-oriented programming (OOP). With OOP languages, the main goal is to make objects that both hold data and perform functions within a single object. On the other hand, procedural programming creates commands or functions that modify or retrieve data from existing containers.
Basically, if you already have containers to store your data, you can use procedural programming to change or extract that data. OOP languages are often preferred, though, because they tend to execute commands faster, and those languages allow us to separate pieces of an application. Then, that application can work alone as well as in conjunction with another. This is useful for testing and for speeding up overall development time.
If you've heard of any backend development languages, you've probably heard of PHP. Corporate giants like Wikipedia, Microsoft, and Facebook all rely on PHP for their back-end development and nearly 80% of all websites. However, you might have also heard of other popular languages like Python, Java, and Ruby.
PHP has some serious advantages that have helped it rocket to the top of backend development languages, though. It's free to use, has regular updates, and works on every operating system. Plenty of fans have set up forums and FAQs for the code, meaning that it's easy to learn and even easier to find someone to help you navigate any issues you run into.
Why the Database is Essential
Of course, all of the coding knowledge in the world can't help your business if you're working with a sub-par database. Despite the database being part of the backend, meaning that customers can't interact with it directly, their user experiences will be affected by your database's effectiveness in a big way. Even if they can't see it, they'll know when you have a low-quality database.
There are plenty of things that can lead to a bad database, like:
- Pushing your development team to finish creating the database too quickly
- Lack of resources
- Neglecting your database maintenance after it's created
- Inexperience in crafting databases
Living in Slow-Mo
One bad result of a bad database is slow loading time. When pages load slowly, customers are likely to bounce from your website before they have a chance to glance at your web page.
Even if your pages are loading, customers may experience difficulties entering their payment information or completing purchases. For an eCommerce website, slow load times essentially render the website useless. Customers can't make a purchase, and they can get frustrated with the experience, too.
Poorly built databases will inevitably run out of storage space sooner rather than later. When that happens, your entire website may go offline or disable certain essential features that your customers will notice immediately. Businesses often make the mistake of fixing this problem by upgrading their servers and storage capacities, but that's a temporary and expensive fix to the real problem.
It's often cheaper to fix the true problem: How the database functions.
The best solution is to start with a well-built database, but even if your company's database already exists, some modifications and solutions will end up making your website more effective and less expensive to fix in the long run.
Having a good database means enabling users to search for pages throughout your website easily. Customers who start by searching for a product or service are much more likely to make a purchase, and you wouldn't want to discourage them. However, building a great internal site search can cost your company dearly.
Backend development might seem intimidating at first glance, but you don't need to know everything to coherently form plans and make data-driven decisions about how your IT team should be operating. Databases affect every aspect of your website, which is why they're so essential to maintain.
Click here to learn more about how a backend database can help you deliver official answers wherever people search.