The backend, the “rear end”, forms the technical system of a website and its content. In general, the term is used to define the application and management of a particular piece of software or the “internal” area of a page.
In the context of web design and web development, the backend refers to the administrative part of a website that cannot be viewed by the user. The backend is closely linked to the information system and is regarded as the counterpart to the frontend – this “front end” comprises the user interface that the page visitor ultimately sees on the page. The backend therefore takes on the technical administration of the page in the background to enable its use in the frontend.
The CMS backend: the hidden administration interface
The backend is the heart of a content management system (CMS). Because it provides the administration interface for writing new posts, which can then be viewed on the website. It thus has a complex structure that can be located online, but in the background of the actual Internet presence.
The function and appearance of the content in the front end are specifically controlled in the backend of the CMS. This means that there is a strict separation between the part of the website that the user sees and the administrative area. The division into front and back end common in CMS serves to increase usability. As a term, the backend therefore includes an internal area with restricted access that is not visible to the user. Access to this interface is only possible with a user name and password. After logging in, you have access to all content on the website in the backend and you can change it.
This is how a backend works in detail
Three parts form the core of a backend: application, server and database. The interaction of the user with a website always takes place in the frontend. The user reads contributions, writes comments or watches videos – the data resulting from the interaction are stored by the application in a database that is on a server. This principle causes the multilayer and hierarchical structure of a backend. It is important that the content is entered into the linked database here. However, the backend does not control the database directly. This means that it also takes over the data storage to a certain extent in the background of websites, apps and applications.
The most important tasks of the backend
The administration of content, which guarantees the user the best possible use in the frontend, is specifically controlled in the backend system. The following functions are important:
- Control and administration of various users
- Adjustments to the design
- Content maintenance of texts, videos and images
- Installation of plug-ins for tools that are of interest, for example, for SEO and social media applications
- Administration and processing of orders in shop systems
Examples of the use of backends in everyday life
According to photionary, the backend accompanies users in their everyday Internet use. For example, it can be found wherever there is user-dependent or personal content. The home page for logging in a user is provided by the front end. Everything that the user sees after logging in is considered a backend in this sense. This scenario can be found in customer accounts, online banking and online shops.
The backend also takes on a relevant function for people who run their own blog or homepage. Thanks to well-known CMS systems such as Joomla or WordPress, even laypeople have the opportunity to create and organize website content. For work and changes in a WordPress backend or in a Joomla backend, an IT specialist who knows complicated programming languages is not necessary. The users can enter and update the contributions themselves. It is advisable to structure the backend as compactly as possible. This means, for example, that videos and images must be entered in a compressed size.
The backend software is designed by professional developers. When creating the systems, they work with high-level programming languages such as PHP, Ruby or Python.
Importance for search engine optimization (SEO)
Great importance is attached to the backend in the SEO context. The effective and targeted modification of websites in the backend is part of the OnPage optimization. For example, so-called meta tags are defined in the backend. This includes the titles and descriptions of the top and bottom pages, which are essential for the completeness of snippets. Content optimization and page analysis are also part of the SEO activities in the backend. Other important terms in connection with optimizations in the backend are the following:
- Indexing / crawling
- Canonical day
- NoIndex and NoFollow