Full-stack developer 33 min read 01.18.2021

What is a Full-Stack Developer? [2021 Guide]

What is a Full-Stack Developer?. This simple (but proven effective) full-stack developer guide tells it all - meaning, hiring tips, important skills, trusted go-to, etc.

We’ve come across a few takes lately which have prompted us to go back to this question.

The term “full-stack” as far as we can tell came about as a way to describe a group of programming languages and tools used to develop both front-end and back-end development of websites.

Here is a simple definition of full-stack development that makes sense:

“A full stack web developer is a person who can develop both client and server software. In addition to mastering HTML and CSS, he/she also knows how to: Program a browser (like using JavaScript, jQuery, Angular, or Vue), Program a server (like using PHP, ASP, Python, or Node), and Program a database (like using SQL, SQLite, or MongoDB).”

-         w3schools

In simple terms, full-stack developers are experienced pros that are hands-on, trend-led, and all-rounders in creating the best user experience and strategy in every stage of software development. Consider them your one-stop-shop for all your mobile development, front-end/ back-end development, and server operations needs.

What is the role of a Full-stack developer?

Now that internet connections are readily available in most parts of the world and the subsequent rise in demand for web applications, more and more people would like to understand what a full stack developer can do for them.

That old adage – jack of all trades, master of none holds true in a way when trying to elucidate the role of a full-stack developer. It's not an issue of capability.  Full-stack developers have fantastic skills that make them competent in creating and maintaining elements needed for a web application to run successfully. The issue is with the consistency of approach, experience, and skills they have in the specific technology stack and in the proficiency of the various layers within each stack.

A note on Stacks and Layers in web development

Popular web technology stacks are:

  • LAMP stack
  • LEMP stack
  • MEAN stack
  • Django stack
  • Ruby on Rails

Full-stack Layers:

  • Front-end
  • Back-end
  • DevOps

Why all the fuss about stacks and layers you’d ask?

There are situations where mastery of all three Layers is not needed.

For example:

In projects where only an API is the product, the front-end is of no use. Similarly,

Back-end can be sacrificed in single-page applications (SPAs) or static pages. And in the same vein, managed hosting solutions makes the DevOps support needless.

Whatever your need, in any case, a full-stack developer is duty-bound to help you understand your requirements and recommend the most suitable solution.

Now unto specific roles of full-stack developers:

  • Design, develop, and implement web application’s User Interface. These are the visual/graphic elements that users see and interact with.
  • Build high-quality mockups and design different application prototype
  • Optimize web applications for maximum speed
  • Design mobile-based features
  • Acquire and manage servers
  • Deploy and update applications
  • Manage the capabilities of a system.
  • Create and manage databases, caches, cloud storage, and proprietary cloud APIs.

As someone looking to hire a web developer, know that he/she can do all of these and more or less for you. The bottom line is their roles would depend on what you want to achieve together.

When do you need a Full-stack developer?

We hear many comments from prospective partners most of which suggest that many people still feel that the investment in a full-stack developer is a waste of money. To be honest, this may be true in some situations but certainly not for most individuals or businesses with the intention of reaping substantial rewards from the web.

 A full-stack developer can be a great addition to your team, when:

 Starting out

We’ve realized that getting software/web development projects off the ground with the help of a full-stack developer is a smart decision. Because of their vast knowledge, he/she can dig into their bag of tricks and produce a myriad of solutions on the fly as well as create a reliable software architecture that can be scaled in the future without hassle.

 You are short on budget

Don’t allow cash constraints prevent you from pursuing your goals. One way to get the most value for your money’s worth is by hiring a full-stack developer. Earlier we likened one to a one-stop-shop, so, rather than hiring multiple experts, a full-stack developer brings a lot of skills to the table you can leverage to achieve your project needs while saving money.

You need a technical co-founder or partner

For non-techie individuals that would like to create a minimum viable product (MVP) or delving into the software market, hiring a full-stack developer makes so much sense. With their range, they’d oversee the technical bit of the business and double as your eyes and ears in a world that is strange to you.

Your web application is running slow and costing you traffic

Every day we receive complaints concerning slow running websites or applications that load slowly. And on many occasions, it is a full-stack developer that saves the day. This is so because they can combine skills from various knowledge areas of software development - making them the pro-choice to optimize web applications for speed.

 You need to expand your team

Another great instance where you would need to hire a full-stack developer is when you need more hands or additional expertise to meet the demands of an application that has reached a certain scale. Additionally, this could also mean you have more projects to complete and would need more workforce. If you’re at this stage in your business/project getting extra hands would allow specialization within your team leading to efficiency and better results.

A tech-Lead is needed

Finally, you would need to hire a full-stack developer to head and oversee a software/web application project. This particular role requires a candidate that has a competent knowledge of various tech stack and layers. A full-stack developer fits this description nicely.

Want to discover what it takes to hire a top full-stack developer?

We’ll be honest: it is a whole lot easier than you might think - this practical (but proven effective) guide reveals how.

You need to hire the best full-stack developer. Great decision!

So do our extensive list of partners (plus a million other businesses). So pay careful attention:

We work with a lot of full-stack developers here. We need their services so much we’ve got our own team of professional in-house top talent spotters. Like a raised antennae, we’re actively searching, identifying, and recruiting the most qualified programmers.

So we know a thing or two about hiring the best-fit full-stack developers from even the murkiest pool.

A bit guilty about keeping all this expertise to ourselves, we decided to put together this free guide which introduces you to who a full-stack developer is, types of full-stack developers we have found to be relevant, and another trove of information to help you find an exceptional developer for your business, organization or one-of project.

Let’s begin

The smarter way to hire Full-stack developers: best practices and important qualities to look out for

Just as you shouldn't go to the ophthalmologist when you have a broken limb, you should also pay attention to the programmer you intend to hire - does he/she have the right skills that suit your needs?

Once you have made it clear why you need a developer, the question then arises: what should I consider before hiring a full-stack developer?

Here are a few things to consider...

Be technology sure

Determine beforehand the kind of technology you want to use for your project. This may require you to ask questions on forums and researching the best technology that suits your requirements.

And if you have no clue about the appropriate technology stack you will need, it is best to keep an open mind. As a rule, we strongly advise you to go over your points with your prospective hire.

Important qualities to look for in a full-stack developer

Look for the following qualities below in a full-stack developer before you hire him/her. These characteristics would help to ensure you don’t regret your decision.

The most important qualities that a full stack developer must have include:

Technical Skills and Proficiency

The prospective developer should be competent and show exceptional mastery in the following:

HTML/CSS

These are both front-end languages that allow programmers to design and implement how a web application will look and feel during use. Because the visual element is what the user will be interacting with - which plays a huge role in attracting and compelling user action, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of a developer showing mastery of these programming languages.

JavaScript

Arguably the most widely used language for writing frontend and backend code for servers, JavaScript is an important tool in a full-stack developer’s arsenal. The candidate you consider should demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of concepts and features like React and Angular as well as knowledge of the latest frameworks, libraries, and tools.

Git and GitHub

Git allows full-stack developers to manage changes during web application development. It is important the candidate is knowledgeable in basic Git commands and examples. A GitHub profile is compulsory where the hire would be working in a team.

Node.js

Node.js is a free open source server environment that runs on various platforms. It allows developers to write both client-side and server-side using only JavaScript.

Backend languages

Some common backend languages are Ruby, PHP, Java, Net, and Python. A thorough understanding of one or more of these languages is needed for developers to work on the back-end of web applications/software.

  1. Web architecture

Full-stack development requires meticulous execution with an eye for details. The ability to structure codes, categorize files, structure data in databases, and perform necessary computational tasks are what separates exceptional full-stack developers from their peers.

  1. Database storage

A full-stack developer worth his/her salt should be adept in all the various processes required to store data in a database for seamless retrieval later on.

  1.  Basic design skills

The aesthetics of a web application like we mentioned earlier is vital. Therefore, we strongly recommend you consider a full-stack developer capable of completing basic design principles, including UI & UX features.

Soft Skills

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Understanding goals

  • Knowledge sharing

Full-stack developer interview questions

When looking for a full-stack developer to hire, there are several questions you should ask not only to help you but also to help the candidate and ensure all the party involved is happy at the end of the day.

These questions will be grouped into two sets: General screening questions and secondly, Industry-specific questions.

General full-stack developer screening questions:

This set of questions are generally of the know-your-candidate type without driving at job-related competencies.

  • Please share your LinkedIn profile link.
  • Do you have a GitHub profile? If yes, kindly share the link.
  • What is your desired salary?
  • How did you hear about this position?
  • Who referred you? 

7 Pro-tips to help you hire your perfect Full-stack developer

Because this is a new year, we thought we would offer a few tips to help you increase your chances of hiring the right full-stack developer in 2021.

Here are the tips that have helped us thus far:

Tip 1: Don’t get carried away with high-sounding ads. Why? Desirable coders almost never look for work. In most cases, you will have to find them, so invest in them.

Pro Tip 1: Use independent platforms like Hiremotely that have done all the hard work validating top full-stack developers to identify some of the best candidates in the industry.

Tip 2: Always check the code the prospective candidate shares. Check their Github profile or ask them to share. You should delegate this task to an experienced developer if you are not one yourself.

Caution: If they don’t have any code to share, it is suggestive of a lack of competence, depth, and/or experience.

Tip 3: Always add a personal touch.

Action: This can be as simple as sending a personalized email where you talk specifically about why you would like to work with the person.

Tip 4: Do not embark on spamming LinkedIn, Social Media platforms, calling, and emailing lots of prospects. Instead: contact a few people in a thorough and personal way.

Tip 5: During the interview, ask open-ended questions.

For example, ask questions like "how do you feel about building a web application that saves a life?"

Warning: Leading questions are completely wrong.

Tip 6: Toot your own horn.

Blogging and spreading entertaining information on social media about your technical solutions and achievements can have a great impact on attracting the best developers out there. In some cases, this can inspire them to contact you or apply for a job with you.

Tip 7: Offer opportunities for growth.

Don’t come across as an employer that will hinder their career growth. Remember the best would like to improve on their craft. So, side with them.

P.S:

We would like to reiterate the Pro Tip because of its immense importance: 

Hiremotely does all the heavy lifting. More importantly - independently vetting the claims and experience of the developers so you don’t have to.

Here is what we suggest you do now:

Register, and work with a developer for free.

You heard right - Hiremotely are so confident of their screening processes that give rise to the collection of some of the best freelance developers on the web you are invited to try out a developer's skills for 8 hours. If you are not satisfied, it is free of charge. No-obligations!

So go ahead and get started right now, because this is the only way you can guarantee for certain you will be working with a result-proven full-stack developer that won’t waste your time and money.

Herant Awadisan

Backend Engineer

Herant Awadisan
  • Remotely (meetings possible)
  • 6+ months
  • 10th August
  • #RabbitMQ
  • #Doctrine
  • #Symfony
  • #Laravel
  • #PHP7
Veronica Darchin

Backend PHP developer

Veronica Darchin
  • Remotely (meetings possible)
  • 6+ months
  • mid August
  • #JavaScript
  • #Java/J2EE
  • #HTML
  • #PHP
  • #XML
Robert Konarskis

Senior Android Developer

Robert Konarskis
  • Remotely (meetings possible)
  • 6+ months
  • October
  • #OOP and design patterns
  • #System architectures
  • #Android SDK
  • #Android
  • #Spring
Chris Shanley

Expert iOS developer

Chris Shanley
  • Remotely (meetings possible)
  • 6+ months
  • mid October
  • #Java (Dropwizard / Spring Boot
  • #Javascript (node)
  • #Objective-C
  • #Node.js
  • #Swift

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