What is Headless Architecture?
In a nutshell, headless refers to the decoupling of the front-end presentation layer (i.e., what customers interact with) and the back-end product functionality (I.e., the part that handles the actual transactions). The beauty of this being that developers can use any front-end technology of their choice, to deliver an efficient, UX oriented, and personalised experience to customers, and combine it with a high-quality back-end solution that provides all the required functionality. The layers communicate and manage and deliver content through API calls without needing any further connectivity between them. This is an efficient way to manage omni-channel applications when it comes to software product engineering.
Headless vs Traditional
In traditional solutions the front-end and back-end are strongly coupled, leaving little if any flexibility. Additionally, traditional platforms provide a generic customer and administrative experience that are meant to fit most scenarios, while not being quite custom fitted for any. In contrast, as headless has no dependence or coupling with the front-end, developers are free to create custom fitted solutions for their vertical and user requirements. Functionality for both business scenarios and administration are easily changeable and have no impact on the front-end giving endless flexibility.
Traditionally front-end developers are restricted in terms of process and design. Developers constantly need to question how a change will affect existing or future back-end functionality. The time needed to edit the database, code the back-end, and edit the front-end proves restrictive when it comes to new requirements. Comparatively, headless commerce empowers front-end developers to create user experiences that fit individual business needs. As they can design and develop from scratch, each element is custom fitted and well thought out with no waste or inefficiency. Front-end developers are free from any restraints placed by the back-end functionality as those calls will be made through APIs. To put it succinctly, front-end development is unleashed!
While many businesses use the traditional models to design and develop products, the downside to this is that they have a longer timeline for delivery and a higher development cost. The price of innovation is significantly higher as they need to rework every aspect of the system in question. On the plus side, the technical knowledge and know-how needed are not as advanced as the technologies themselves are mature, and widespread.
Headless development excels in providing a business exactly what is required when it is required. Teams are able to integrate powerful solution engines in the back-end, which are custom built to their specifications, providing API driven communication, all while creating a presentation layer or front-end with their specific branding and integrating best-in-breed UX principles. No longer are you driven to compromise between content and a powerful, flexible, and agile product offering.
Why should you consider headless over traditional product development?
Be competitive – with the ability to deploy rapid updates to your presentation layer, without affecting your back-end systems, you can deliver customer requirements with increased agility. Further, teams are given freedom to test out new technologies on front-end development with zero effects to the back-end, instead of being tied down to using the traditional technology stacks.
Maintain consistency – allow yourself the freedom to design and develop every customer facing aspect in your products to maintain consistency and adhere to the same standards across the board. Without the necessity to re-visit the back-end with every change, your ability to manipulate presentation becomes greater than ever.
Seamless integrations – due to API based communication, your products are able to integrate and communicate with each other with ease. This in turn expands your products usability and reach and has an immediate effect on increased functionality and customer satisfaction.
Familiar and flexible – if the back-end team is familiar and has expertise in working with a particular technology, headless gives them the ability to continue working with it while the front-end developers may choose to use a different technology to create their layer, or vice-versa.
Lowered conversion costs – customer conversion and acquisition remains at the heart of many business models. However, the price of conversion keeps rising to the cost of marketing and advertising. Using a headless development model can help reduce these costs by promoting organic growth by providing a better overall customer experience.
Control the architecture – the overarching concept of headless is the ability to decouple the front-end from the back-end. This gives you the ability to switch out any part that doesn’t work to your expectation or is no longer able to keep up with demand while continuing to use the other parts of the system.
Multi-device - another nifty advantage is the ability to use the same great back-end while your product front-end can be developed for different devices, secure in the knowledge that it will still work as intended and provide customers with a seamless experience.
Speed to market – considering the advantages of going headless, we can see it greatly reduces the time taken to launch your product to a new demography or geography. The initial product can be easily replicated even to launch other products of a similar nature. This not only saves you time and money, but more importantly keeps you competitive in the current market.
Go Omnichannel - headless can help you propel your content to every channel that is available, giving your product increased visibility and exposure, which in turn helps to drive adoption and customer acquisition.
In today’s experience-led market, a brand has to provide quality content and an unsurpassable user experience in order to stand out from the crowd. Such brands are able to organically capture the market and woo clients without the need for advertising (even though we all know that no one stops advertising).
Headless development paves the way for this organic growth by allowing your product teams to work synchronously on different aspects of the system, and focusing on the best for each layer, without affecting the other. This in turn provides the ability to create quality content on the front-end, while providing an efficient and well-fitted business solution to carry the weight. The user experience driven by this combination is hard to surpass and can provide your product the edge it needs to remain competitive and promote real growth.