Front End or Full Stack? A Replay of an Interesting Discord Conversation

If you’re an active Frontend Masters member, under the Apps section of your account you can join our Discord community to chat with fellow developers. There are often great conversations there. Here’s one about choosing a path to focus on.

Should I go deeper into front end, or expand to learning full stack?


Hey everyone! So, I’ve been working mostly with Angular as a front-end dev, but then I got to mess around with Lit for our company’s design system and totally loved it. It’s got me thinking about diving deeper into front end and design systems.

But, I see a lot of talk about full stack being the way to go for more job options. I’m trying to figure out what’s best for my career. Should I beef up my backend skills and aim for full stack, or just keep focusing on what I really like with front end and design systems?

Would love to hear your thoughts or any advice you’ve got. Thanks a bunch!

Discord Community Responses


I can’t say what’s right for you, but personally, it’s always led me to go deeper into my interests. Becoming a design systems/component expert is a valuable skill. We are also doubling down on courses in this area this year since we are currently revamping our UX and design system on

SQL and back-end skills might make you more marketable to the broadest number of jobs. But it’s always served me the best to find an area I love enough to get the deepest into.


Thanks a bunch for the advice!

I’m super into front-end stuff, like diving into how different frontend framework works bits and geeking out over CSS (CSS working group and Kevin Powell are both my idols lol). I’m all about making things accessible and looking good. But in Toronto, it seems like everyone’s looking for full stack devs. The few front-end job postings around are crazy competitive (200+, sometimes 500+ people fighting for 1 position), and they all want a ton of experience. Makes me wonder if I’m barking up the wrong tree wanting to be a front-end wizard.

Marc has a nice surprise


I just booked a workshop with Kevin Powell November 14th! Finally got him to come teach a workshop with us. 😀


🐣 I’m beyond excited!

$ cd./villard

I wouldn’t wager that you’re alone in that experience. Lots of companies, offering either location-locked and remote roles, have been moving towards leveraging full-stack engineers. One could make an argument that this is because of “post-ZIRP” economics, but in speaking with others at my org, I believe it can also be attributed to applications trending away from big, bespoke front ends.


It depends on what you like/value. l’ve personally benefitted a lot more so far by being a generalist and going deeper into things only when I needed them rather than focusing on one particular thing. If you’re still at the beginning of your career it’s definitely worth it being nosey and trying as many things as possible imo.

$ cd./villard

That’s not to say there isn’t value in the front-end specialization, but there’s going to be a swing to generalization for many companies until new front-end concerns arise.

Nick Wattonville

I would work towards Full-Stack Dev. My understand is that being a Full-Stack Dev opens more doors, than just being one or the other. I like the frontend of JS and HTML, but far as design I can never get CSS to do what I want it to do lol. For backend PHP is one of my favorite languages other than JS to work with. But at the end of the day its up to you and what you like to do with your career.


From my side will add that it’s the best feeling when you do what you like. So if you truly love the front end — go for it. Although, I’m curious what your answer would be about the back end.

Are you interested in tech powering the stuff as much?

For me, it always felt like that front end is for those who like to bring users easy and support, making sure the product is usable. And the backend is for individuals that are “optimizers/architecture runners”


i’m currently a FE SWE and even at my work where we have had FE/BE split for forever, I’ve started to work a little on our APls. I used to be full stack so it was simple for me to learn a little bit and be able to help. Our BE team is just a lot busier due to some new features we are building. I think there’s value in being able to do some on the “other side” but specializing in what you like! I still heavily prefer the react/data flow portion of the frontend which is why I got hired in the first place. now l’m becoming more of a middle of the stack engineer. I don’t do a lot of CSS and I don’t do much database stuff.


It’s very difficult to be an expert in “true” full stack and I would say, less employable, because of that.

Full stack in the front-end world is being deemed as learning something like NextJS, but that’s simply is not the case. Look into the Full Stack by Jem on Frontend Masters for a good example of the term and what you need to learn.

You would go further being an expert in either the front end or back end.


And, my second take: once an expert, always an expert. If you can master a tool, you have reasonable thinking and learning skills. At the end of the day, back end, front end, it won’t matter, you are just a master of everything and problem solver 🙂.


Just some context: I have 11 years of experience and I have been leading multiple development teams. Mainly focused on front-end application development, and also the team responsible for the component library/design system. This is something that has come up with the people I have mentored in the past.

I have always told my team members that they need to focus on something that interests them, or else they will get burnt out. I can say that Design Systems and Component Libraries are something that there is a lot of desire for, but often its hard to find people that are interested in it, so it’s an awesome skill to have. I will say that most advice I have gotten from engineering managers at bigger tech companies is that have an area of expertise is really good.

Keep in mind that the best thing for you career is something that will change a lot over the course of a 30 year career, the most important thing is that you are focusing on something that you actually enjoy, or else you will be miserable. Any time I have a developer that is underperforming, the first thing I ask them is if they are unhappy with what they are working on and if they are, then I give them a different task, 9/10 times that solves their issues.

When it comes to going full stack, that is also great knowledge to have, you do not need to pick one way or the other, you can do both.

Focus on what you actually enjoy, but take some time to learn enough about backend/full stack so that you can contribute to conversations about it at work, who knows, 5 years from now you might want to switch and work on something different.

If you ever have questions or need some advice, feel free to DM me. I enjoy passing on my lessons learned to other people.


I would say to follow down the path with what makes you the happiest. Will full stack open more doors because of the possibilities that surround it? Yes. But if you aren’t happy then is it really worth it? You can stick with front end and Ul/UX design and, as someone mentioned earlier, learn what you need to backend-wise when the time comes for you to learn it. Maybe go through the basics of back end just so you have an understanding of it.


Depends on what the person wants to do with their career IHMO. A specialist in a high-end tool is always a sought-after professional.

But one might think a full stack engineer can reach a broader job market. I do find this last point of view a bit misleading since you can tick a lot of boxes, but if you do not tick at least the core ones in terms of depth, your chances will be smaller.


I love this line:

I have always told my team members that they need to focus on something that interests them, or else they will get burnt out.



I see this all too often. Almost every developer I have had that was under performing was either burnt out or just completely uninterested in what they were working on.

One response to “Front End or Full Stack? A Replay of an Interesting Discord Conversation”

  1. Avatar German Soto says:

    I want to leave my grain of sand, and although I cannot say that I am at all a experienced developer, I can at least express that in my case, living in Latin America, that taking the specialization route was the best choice. I could never land a job as a fullstack developer, and as more technologies started appearing, it was hard to say that I was really good at something.

    Because of that, I left backend development on standby, and thanks to that I could land a job as a frontend developer.
    Being an expert on something can take you to places where no generalist could possibly go ( you can say this vice-versa too ).

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