Full Stack vs. Specialized Developer: What’s The Difference?

Full stack vs specialized developer

According to LinkedIn’s Emerging Jobs Report for 2020, job opportunities for full-stack developers have increased by 35% annually since 2015.

However, despite the increase, many organizations and startups still argue in favor of recruiting specialized developers for their software development teams.  

It is not an easy decision to make as it depends a lot on the context and your specific requirements. The question 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, today, 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 Full Stack and Specialized Developers?

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 at many levels. 

Unfortunately, even if a multi-talented source is very adaptable and helpful for a wide range of jobs, they might fall short of expectations in terms of quality. However, it’s far more expensive to employ a qualified developer source who’ll do the job correctly in a specialist field. All of your other responsibilities, except for the specialized one, will stay insurmountable.

You can afford a multi-talented source, but they might not be reliant on other resources. On the other hand, some specialist resources can help you do your chores quickly and efficiently while also guiding you towards your objectives. 

Full Stack Developer Skills

A full-stack developer is well-versed in a wide range of technologies and abilities and can take on a project entirely on their own. To become a full-stack developer, someone must understand both front-end and back-end technologies and a diverse skillset that includes project planning, software testing, and more.

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

Identifying Problems

Full-stack developers are well-versed in all phases of software development so that they can see problems early in the project’s lifecycle. You’ll be able to save time that such issues would otherwise consume.

They Can  Pick Up New Information Quickly

A full-stack developer’s ability to pick up new ideas and technologies is unmatched. They’ve become experienced developers because of their well-versed knowledge of fundamentals.

Low-cost

One developer’s budget may do the job of both a front-end and back-end developer if you hire a full-stack developer. 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 specialist developer when you’re uncertain about which role to hire. You’d pay cheaper for hiring a full-stack vs front-end developer or full-stack vs backend developer.

Shorten the Time Needed for Development

Because full-stack engineers work on both the client and the server sides, they can do various jobs quickly and independently. This reduces the amount of time you have to spend developing.

Less Meetings and Conversations 

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

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

Cons of Hiring Full Stack Developers

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

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.

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 the exceptional service you want.

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.

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 to maintain. You cannot afford to lose the full-stack developer since you are so reliant on them.

Challenges with Full Stack Developers

Employing a “Jack-of-all-trades” developer may seem enticing to some firms. But as you can see, there are drawbacks to be aware of. 

These are some real-life challenges working with a full-stack developer and how to solve them.

Challenge:

It’s possible that having a wide range of knowledge comes with negative consequences. 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.

Solution:

Provide them a regular newsletter or course opportunities for additional in-depth research to keep your full-stack devs updated on current developments. According to a study, having more learning opportunities is associated with decreased employee churn. To keep your developers up to date, here are some helpful blog and email newsletter links:

Tracking of the Project

Challenge:

Project tracking might be problematic for full-stack engineers since projects are divided up into bigger pieces with less work distribution.

Solution:

Set a weekly milestone to check in on your team and keep lines of communication open. Project tracking may be made easier with the help of a variety of technologies. It is via the use of these instruments and techniques that the development roadmap is laid out. Here are some software development project management tools to get you started:

  • ProofHub
  • JIRA
  • Celoxis
  • Hive
  • TeamGantt

The Distribution of Tasks

Challenge:

Full-stack developers are sought after by hiring managers owing to their versatility and diverse skill sets. For full-stack developers, the distinctions between front-end and back-end projects might be fuzzy. 

Full-stack developers have a lot of flexibility because of their depth of expertise, but giving them several little jobs at various stages of the development process might cause time management to become chaotic. 

A Full-stack Developer may not have the knowledge required to complete a project if it is more complex or requires better quality work on a particular part of the stack than a front-end or back-end developer.

Solution:

Assess your full-stack developer projects’ complexity and the skills of your full-stack developers. Being realistic on your expectations for the result helps your full-stack development team optimize the distribution of tasks.

Specialized Developer Skills

Developers that specialize have a thorough understanding of either front-end or back-end issues. The front-end includes the interactive and visual aspects of the project, such as the design of web pages and mobile applications. The back-end, on the other hand, comprises server-side programming and resource management.

These highly trained professionals have a great deal of expertise in their particular sector. Therefore, they can resolve even the most challenging problems. 

For security and robustness, you’ll want to hire specialist engineers rather than full-stack developers. 

Pros of a Specialized Developer

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.

They Are Keeping Up With The Newest Technological Developments

A specialist 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.

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 the work.

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

Expensive 

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

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.

Teamwork Management

Because the specialized development team is more interdependent, it requires more meetings and talks for the project to run well.

Who Should You Hire: Choose a Fullstack Developer IF…

You work 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 yet fulfill deadlines.

You work 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 project and its milestones are well-defined.

Limited financial resources

If your project development budget is tight, you will need 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.

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. 

Who Should You Hire: Choose a Specialized Developer IF

You work on a big project

It’s a good idea 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

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.

Complicated tasks

When working on a complicated project, it’s better to recruit specialized experts. 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

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.

If you have a remote business, chances are you would already be in a stage where the project is well-defined before you decide to hire developers. This will also help you keep a track of the performance of your remote team of developers. 

In recent years, the need for full-stack engineers has grown as startups, and smaller enterprises seek rapid fixes and reduced development expenses. On the other hand, larger organizations rely on expert developers to develop innovative solutions to complex challenges. 

If you’re starting to create your team or employ new developers, at DistantJob we can help you. Our global team of recruiters is skilled enough to help you find the technical talent you need. And if you want to educate more in the fundamentals of development or remote recruiting, we can also help you. You can read more about custom software development as well as comparisons between various languages like Angular vs React for your projects.

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Vishal Srivastava

Vishal Srivastava

Vishal has played multiple roles over the past 8 years- a mechanical engineer, blogger, liberal arts student, & currently a marketing professional. He loves to learn and read new things and his latest obsession is creator economy and personal branding in the age of remote work. When not working, he is busy overthinking about life in 2050. You can reach out to him on Twitter @VishalThisSide