As you look for guidance towards developing your next web project, you may come across the terms “server-side” and “client-side” web code. These phrases refer to the fundamental architecture of web applications and how they process and present data to the end user. In this article, we will explore the differences between server-side and client-side web code, including their definitions, comparisons, examples of programming languages used, and when to apply each type of code.


Server-side web code is programming logic that runs on a web server, a computer or system designed to host and deliver web content. The server processes requests from the client (usually a user’s browser) and returns the appropriate response, often in the form of a web page or data. In this setup, the server is responsible for handling complex tasks, data manipulation and storage, and security measures.

On the other hand, client-side web code is programming logic that runs directly within a user’s browser, on their local device (such as a computer or smartphone). This code typically focuses on the presentation of the web content and enhancing the user experience by providing interactivity, animations, and other dynamic elements.


The primary difference between server-side and client-side web code lies in where the processing and execution of the code occur.

Server-side web code:

  • Runs on the web server.
  • Is responsible for processing requests, handling data and managing server resources.
  • Ensures security, as the code is not visible to the end user.
  • Requires the server to process and generate a response, which may lead to increased load times and use of server resources.

Client-side web code:

  • Runs within the user’s browser.
  • Focuses on the presentation and interaction aspects of the web application.
  • Is visible to the end user, making it potentially vulnerable to security threats.
  • Can improve load times by offloading some processing to the user’s device, resulting in a faster and more responsive experience.

Examples of languages

Server-side web code can be written in several programming languages, each with its unique features and advantages. Some popular server-side languages include:

PHP: A widely-used scripting language, especially suited for web development and embedded within HTML.
Node.js (JavaScript): An open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime that allows developers to use JavaScript for server-side development.
Python: A versatile language with extensive libraries, popular for web development due to its readability and ease of use.
Ruby: Known for its elegant syntax and the Ruby on Rails framework, which simplifies web application development.
In contrast, client-side web code is primarily written in the following languages:

HTML (HyperText Markup Language): A markup language that structures web content and provides the basic layout of a web page.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): A stylesheet language that controls the appearance and formatting of HTML elements.
JavaScript: A scripting language enabling interactivity, animations and other dynamic features on a web page.
When to use

In general, server-side web code is appropriate for tasks that require complex data processing, storage, and security, while client-side web code is suitable for enhancing the user experience and presenting web content. Most modern web applications use a combination of both server-side and client-side web code to create a seamless, interactive, and efficient user experience.

Security is an important element in choosing where to put the code: all client-side code can be seen, so you should never try to put anything in there like passwords or API keys.

Summing up

In conclusion, understanding the differences between server-side and client-side web code is crucial for anyone interested in web development. By recognising their unique functions and roles, developers can make informed decisions about which languages and technologies to use in order to build robust, efficient and engaging web applications.

When designing a web application, it is important to strike a balance between server-side and client-side web code. This balance depends on the specific requirements of the project, as well as the desired user experience. For instance, an e-commerce website may require robust server-side code to manage inventory, process transactions, and ensure security, while a media-rich portfolio site may benefit from client-side code to create smooth animations, transitions, and interactive elements.

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One approach to achieve this balance is by employing a Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture. This design pattern separates the application’s data (Model), user interface (View), and control logic (Controller) into distinct components. In this setup, server-side code typically handles the Model and Controller, while client-side code manages the View. By clearly defining these roles, developers can create scalable and maintainable web applications that efficiently utilise both server and client resources.

Another popular technique is using APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to communicate between server-side and client-side code. APIs allow developers to expose server-side functionality and data to client-side code, enabling secure and efficient interaction between the two. With this approach, developers can build modular, flexible applications that take advantage of the strengths of both server-side and client-side web code.

In summary, server-side and client-side web code are fundamental concepts in web development, each with their unique characteristics and applications. By understanding their differences and combining their strengths, developers can create dynamic, secure, and user-friendly web applications that cater to a diverse range of needs and requirements. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just starting your journey into web development, being familiar with server-side and client-side web code will undoubtedly prove invaluable in your endeavours.

Please note: the information in this post is correct to the best of our endeavours and knowledge at the original time of publication. We do not routinely update articles.