Full-Stack Developers v/s Specialized Developers: The Bigger Picture

Full-Stack Developers

Should I hire a full-stack developer or a specialized developer for my web project? Well, this is a million-dollar question! The answer to this question depends on multiple factors, which you will come to know as you read further.

Primarily, the deciding factors in such a scenario are the size of your business and project requirements. The purpose of this article is to highlight the benefits of each development approach and help you choose the best software development company. But before that, let’s get a complete picture of what the full-stack developers are and not what you assume them to be.

Let’s get started!

Background of Full-Stack Development

The term “full-stack developer” became an industry buzzword back in the 1990s and maintained its prominence until the early 21st century. Technically, these people were considered to be proficient in the use of both front-end and back-end languages, and also had some degree of knowledge in managing databases. 

This image will give you a good overview of the history of full-stack development.

So, the meaning and applicability of this term have broadened, especially in the past few years.

Current Scenario of Web Development

Technology is emerging and evolving, every day and every moment. Period.

In the midst of such evolutionary transitions, it becomes extremely important to team with people who know the depths of web development. 

You might be aware that the creation of an application goes through several stages that are as follows:

  1. UI/UX designers who create the layout of the future product.
  2. Front-end developers, who turn the design into code.
  3. Back-end developers, who are responsible for writing the code on the server-side.

Now, full-stack developers can handle the second and third aspects quite well. But, they might not be able to go into the ‘depths’ of these aspects. Depth, in this context, refers to the application of creative skills in stacks that only experts could do. The basic skills and knowledge don’t work anymore.

So, hiring specialized developers seems to be the key here. That being said, the full-stack guys are not bad. They are quite flexible. This is why Facebook exclusively hired only full-stack developers in the initial phases of their social media venture.

Thus, if you want to hire full-stack developers, they should have knowledge in almost a myriad of languages in addition to the basics. These include SQL, Bash/Shell, Python, C#, PHP, React Native and Angular. Take a look at the image below.

Image source: Hackernoon blog

Keep in mind that mastering the basics of these languages and frameworks can take a developer around 5-10 years. So look for experienced people, always.

Pros & Cons: Specialized and Full-Stack Developers

By now, you might have got the idea that both types of developers can work for you, depending on the complexity of your project. In line with this requirement, let me tell you some individual pros and cons of each type of developer. 

Full-Stack Developer

Pros:

  • Less professional burnout, offered by a frequent switch between tasks, leads to better quality and more satisfaction.
  • Universalism: an aptitude to debug everything, as well as to read and use almost any code.

Cons:

  • Lack of knowledge of a specific domain. For example, a person who spent about 3 years mastering one skill will definitely be better than the one who spent the same amount of time learning multiple technologies.
  • Cannot expect creative inputs either at the frontend or backend level.

Specialized Developer

Pros:

  • High quality of each completed part of the project.
  • Staying updated with the latest technologies.
  • Reasonable allocation of responsibilities, which is comfortable for both team members and efficient for the project’s needs.

Cons:

  • Higher costs: hiring two specialists (for both back end and front end) instead of one is more expensive than working with a full-stack specialist.
  • Dependency on other team members.

In a Nutshell

I am summarizing the criteria for hiring full-stack or specialized developers in the table below. 

HIRING CRITERIA
FULL-STACK DEVELOPERS SPECIALIZED DEVELOPERS
Small businesses with minimal space and hardware for mass hiring of developers. A business that needs expertise in a specific technology stack to enhance its operations.
Businesses that require flexibility in development operations and have no budget constraints. Businesses with a limited budget, with ample hardware and space to hire more developers.

Just take a look at this table if you ever feel confused about whether to hire a front-end developer or an all-rounder. Most of your doubts will be cleared. Good luck!