Full Stack vs. Specialized Developer: Who Is The Best For Your Remote Business? - DistantJob - Remote Recruitment Agency
Remote Recruitment / Tech Insights

Full Stack vs. Specialized Developer: Who Is The Best For Your Remote Business?

Vishal Srivastava
- 3 min. to read

If you’re hiring web developers, you have two main options: hire a full-stack developer or a specialized developer. But the choice isn’t as straightforward as it seems because it depends a lot on the context and your specific requirements. 

The decision between a full stack developer vs. a specialized developer becomes even more critical if you are hiring for a remote business where you need to be absolutely sure about requirements before onboarding any freelance or contractual developers in your team.

So, what factors should you take into account when deciding between full-stack and specialized software engineers? To help you make the decision, we’ll look at the differences between full-stack and specialized developers, as well as the ideal use cases for employing full-stack developers.

What are a Full Stack Developer and a Specialized Developer?

Also known as a “Jack of all Trades,” full-stack developers are well-versed in both front-end and back-end web development (server-side). As a result, they have a thorough understanding of software development

On the other hand, specialized developers are highly trained in one or two specific technologies. They can solve challenges at a faster pace and can build robust systems at scale, provided these are done in the specialized tech stack they are familiar with. 

Key Differences Between Full Stack vs. Specialized Developers

Full Stack Developer Specialized Developer
Must understand both front-end and back-end technologiesShould have a thorough understanding of either front-end or back-end issue
Well-versed in a wide range of technologies and abilitiesHighly trained & experienced in one particular sector. 
Must have a diverse skillset that includes project planning, software testing, and more.Should have deep expertise in one area rather than other skillsets
Can take up an entire project on their ownTake care of one specific system in a project
Hiring them is comparatively less expensiveSpecialist developers usually charge higher than full-stack developers

Full Stack Developer Skills

Full-stack developers are in high demand right now and will continue to be so in the future. Jobs for full-stack developers are expected to expand from 135,000 in 2016 to 853,000 in 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Clearly, Full Stack development isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Full-stack developers must have the following skillsets:

  • HTML/CSS basic design skills 
  • JavaScript
  • Web architecture 
  • Git and GitHub 
  • HTTP and REST 
  • Back-end languages 
  • PHP 
  • Ruby
  • Python 
  • Java 
  • Database Storage 
  • Basic Design Skills 
  • NPM 
  • Design software skills

Pros of Hiring Full-stack Developers

1. Identifying Problems

Full-stack developers are well-versed in all phases of software development to see problems early in the project’s life cycle. 

2. They Can Pick Up New Information Quickly

The ability to pick up new ideas and technologies is a great full-stack developer advantage. They’ve become experienced developers because of their well-versed knowledge of fundamentals.

3. Low-cost

Hiring a full-stack developer can help cut down costs by combining the jobs of both front-end and back-end developers. There is no need to employ multiple staff if you have a full-stack developer on your team who knows how to do everything.

A full-stack developer might be more cost-effective for your business than a specialized developer when you’re uncertain about which role to hire. You’ll pay less for hiring a full-stack vs. front-end developer or full-stack vs. backend developer.

4. Shorten the Time Needed for Development

Because full-stack engineers work on both the client and the server sides, they can do various tasks quickly and independently. This reduces the amount of time you have to spend going back and forth between team members and means they have greater uptime developing.

5. Fewer Meetings and Conversations 

There are numerous meetings to have when you have various devs on your team. A full-stack developer frees your team from relying on other members, reducing the need for meetings.

Having said that, there are still a few limitations to employing full-stack developers.

Cons of Hiring Full-Stack Developers

1. Lacking Up-To-Date Technological Trends

There is no free time for full-stack developers since they deal with various technologies. Fullstack developers may not be helpful if your product relies on cutting-edge technology and must be continually updated.

2. Project Tracking Is Difficult

When your team consists of a full-stack developer, there is no work distribution. Full-stack developers approach the project as a whole rather than as individual jobs. It isn’t easy to keep tabs on their progress after they’ve started working on your project.

3. Potential Lack of Exceptional Service

Full-stack developers might lack specialist abilities in a given topic since their knowledge base is so diverse. As a result, full-stack developers may not assist your project if it requires in-depth knowledge of a specific topic.

So, in terms of project development, they can deliver many services, but they might be average and not excel in a particular area you want or that the project needs.

4. Job Depreciation

Fullstack developers are in great demand, and as a result, they have a steady stream of lucrative work. Because of this, full-stack developers have a high job depreciation rate.

5. Difficult To Replace

If you have a full-stack developer on board and they fail your project midway through, you may find yourself in a difficult position. You cannot afford to lose the full-stack developer since you rely on them to carry a project to its completion.

Pros of a Specialized Developer

1. Exceptional Performance

Because the Specialist Developers are experts in their fields, you know you’ll get high-quality work. Specialized developers outperform full-stack developers in terms of project development quality.

2. They Are Keeping Up With The Newest Technological Developments

A specialized developer is well-versed in a specific field, so they stay ahead of the newest developments in that field. Hiring expert developers for your project ensures that the overall quality will be improved.

3. Responsibilities Are Easily Delegated

It’s easy to delegate responsibility and duties to your team’s specialist developers because of the narrow focus of their work. They’ll have no problem dividing and allocating tasks.

4. It’s Easy To Hire A New One

You’ll have an easier time finding project-specific developers than full-stack developers. Because of this, the number of chances for software engineers is increasing. 

There is a large population of specialist developers on the market. Therefore, it is possible to find the developers you need for your company.

Cons of a Specialized Developer

1. Expensive 

For front-end and back-end development, you’ll need separate teams of developers when dealing with specialist contractors. On the other hand, full-stack developers require a single developer to complete your project. This means that hiring expert developers will cost you a lot more money.

2. Dependency 

When working with specialized developers on a project, you’ll need to rely on them more. Front-end and back-end devs can’t go forward without each other’s input.

3. Teamwork Management

Because the specialized development team is more interdependent, it requires more meetings and talks for the project to run well. You want to make sure that everyone is on the same page, so the work goes smoothly.

Who Should You Hire: Fullstack vs Specialized Developer

Choose a Fullstack Developer IF…

You’re working on a simple project

When working on a small project, it’s best to engage full-stack developers since they can work independently on a variety of different technologies and only achieve your project’s objectives. Full-stack developers have the flexibility to work on many projects simultaneously and still fulfill deadlines.

You’re working on a project with a low level of difficulty

Complex projects need the use of specialist developers who have the necessary expertise. Fullstack developers, on the other hand, are better suited to tasks of smaller complexity or when the project is relatively straightforward. They can also work easily in remote teams where you have already defined SOPs and the projects are well-defined.

You have limited financial resources

If your project development budget is tight, you’re better off investing in full-stack engineers rather than specialized ones.

There’s a tight deadline to meet

Multitasking is second nature to full-stack developers, and they possess the skills to complete a project’s development on their own. Hiring a full-stack developer is preferable if you are pressed for time and need the project completed quickly.

You’re starting a new company or running a small business

Startups are limited by resources like time and money. In the beginning, you might not need specialist resources when you are just testing an idea or preparing for an MVP launch. 

Choose a Specialized Developer IF…

You’re working on a big project

It’s good to hire a specialist development team when your organization is working on a significant project since they’ll break it down into manageable chunks and work toward your objectives step by step.

The quality of the project is of paramount importance

Use expert developers if your project is critical and necessitates high levels of quality and accuracy. They will bring precision, professional knowledge, and extensive experience to the table.

The project is comprised of a lot of complicated tasks

When working on a complicated project, recruiting specialized experts is better. To operate effectively and meet goals, they must have extensive knowledge and expertise. Fullstack developers might not be the best bet in these cases.

Final Thoughts

If you’re starting to create your team or employ new developers at DistantJob, we can help you! 

It is impossible to generalize the needs of any project. You must analyze your project to determine if you need a full-stack or specialist developer. Before assembling your developer team, make a list of the requirements specified by your CTO or technical team required for the project.

Our global team of recruiters is skilled at finding the technical talent you need. We also offer services to education in the fundamentals of development or remote recruiting. If you’re looking for help with your projects, you can read more about custom software development as well as comparisons between various languages like Angular vs. React.

Contact us, and let’s talk about what we can do for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is “full-stack”?

Full-stack is a term that encompasses web front-end and back-end technologies. A full-stack developer is a person that can see a web project to completion on their own by being able to work on both the user interaction and navigation (front-end) and the server(s) used to provide a service (back-end).

Is full stack the same as a developer?

Not always. Full-stack refers to both front-end technologies and back-end technologies. A developer can be full-stack and have knowledge and skillset in both areas, but can also be specialized in a single area.

What’s the difference between a full-stack developer and a software engineer?

Full-stack developers are usually associated with web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, while software engineers are more geared towards developing native applications (for desktop, mobile, etc.) with programming languages such as C++, C#, etc.

Which is better: web developer or full-stack developer?

A full-stack developer is a subset of web development roles, with the others being front-end specialists and back-end specialists. As such, full-stack developers are web developers, and thus not better or worse.

Is full-stack developer a specialization?

Yes. While full-stack developers can be seen as generalists compared to front-end and back-end specialists, they still require a specific skill set and knowledge to do their job.

Is it better to be full stack or specialize?

This will largely depend on the type of work you want to do and where you want to work at.

Specialists in either front-end or back-end technologies are in higher demand in bigger projects and at larger companies, while full-stack developers are usually sought by smaller companies working on simpler or more straightforward projects.

What are the main full stack developer hiring challenges? (Really brief explanation)

Full-stack developers may not be up-to-date on the newest developments in technology because of the large variety of languages and technologies they work with and because the market can quickly change. Moreover, they may not have the knowledge required to complete a project if it is more complex or requires more intricate work on a particular part of the stack compared to a front-end or back-end developer.

What are the main specialized developer hiring challenges?

If your project has a limited budget, hiring specialized developers becomes a challenge as they are expensive. Additionally, you are likely to be more dependent on them when developing a specific part of the project. 

What is the primary difference between full-stack vs. specialized developers?

The primary difference is in terms of their skillset and domain expertise. Full-stack developers know both front-end and back-end web development (server-side). On the other hand, specialized developers are experts and well-versed in one or two technologies.

Which full-stack developer is most in demand?

The most common full-stack developer technologies usually revolve around HTML and CSS, and JavaScript. Besides that, the MEAN tech stack is still a popular web development framework and in demand.

Python is also seeing an increase in adoption overall and also in use towards back-end development, so that is also an option to consider.

When hiring, make sure your developer has extensive knowledge of these technologies, plus any others your company works with as well.

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