Headless architecture is a relatively recent notion in software development. With today’s rapid speed of eCommerce evolution, it has the potential to radically revolutionize the game. “Headless Commerce” is a strategy that fits into bigger developments, such as microservices architecture, which has provided a lifeline for monolithic systems. Let’s look at what headless architecture is, how it varies from other hybrid designs, when to use it, and what to watch out for if you use one.
What is headless architecture
In layman’s terms, A headless structure separates the ‘head’ (front-end components) from the ‘body’ (back-end components), enabling the creation of tailor-made, highly configurable, API-driven systems that are open to an omnichannel approach. An architecture like this must be built and led by professional developers and project managers, and it has several benefits.
Multichannel publishing is significantly simplified with a headless design. While traditional CMS is ideal for publishing material to a website, they are not built to improve content workflow by allowing users to dynamically post to several platforms. Users nowadays want a consistent experience across devices and channels, therefore developers and content providers must adapt to meet these expectations. The necessity for various systems to work together despite their different purposes and functionalities is addressed by headless architecture.
How did it come to be?
Headless technology, like many other well-known advancements, arose in response to the issues that the eCommerce industry faced. Monoliths are prehistoric creatures that thrived in an era when the product pool did not require frequent upgrades and internet retail was straightforward.
The post-desktop age altered how consumers consume content and shop. Online businesses were no longer the only marketplace, and eCommerce stores had to deal with all of the digital developments that occurred in a short period of time. For merchants, it became a burden that needed to be alleviated as soon as possible. Monoliths, on the other hand, became an even greater impediment. Headless technology arose in the pursuit of an iterative solution that would also secure future alterations.
Headless technology necessitates a shift in thinking about how digital systems function. Instead of tying everything together and building strong dependencies, headless technology liberates components, allowing information to flow more quickly and freely amongst stakeholders. As a result of the API-first strategy and orchestration, the entire ecosystem operates swiftly and flexibly.
Is headless technology efficient?
Efficiency is critical with headless tech, and many of its components make it more useful for larger businesses. Some of its advantages are as follows:
Customizability and personalization – In comparison to headless architecture, traditional platforms provide little flexibility for customization. Developers can build their own experiences using headless technology. Your site’s design is completely in your hands, allowing you to continuously improve the entire consumer experience. Some businesses may find that having no initial front layer makes things more difficult, but creating your own is far more advantageous.
Versatility and adaptability – With headless technology, your site’s front and back ends are decoupled, allowing you to create a bespoke checkout flow and make modifications as big or small based on your requirement. Traditional platforms lack this flexibility, requiring developers to alter numerous layers of coding between the front and back ends to make a single change. For typical commerce sites with front-end development, flexibility is also a major issue in terms of design and the overall process. Any necessary adjustments come with the risk of voiding the warranty or prohibiting future updates.
Headless architecture allows you to leverage ‘best of breed’ platforms that are specialized in their functions. It also gives you the freedom to design your own front-end for your sales channels, rather than relying solely on the front-end technology provided by your commerce or CMS platform.
This paradigm has gained patronage over recent years. Although this is relevant to all multi-tiered applications and apps that provide digital touchpoints to end customers, it is becoming the primary choice for digital commerce platforms of large enterprises that seek agility and flexibility in delivering personalized omnichannel digital customer experience unrestrained by the underlying platforms and systems.
Risks with headless architecture
Headless architecture adds a new layer of complexity by separating application data from front-end interface components. Headless applications must compile that information and then save it in an API rather than running a query and sending the results into a form element, such as a text box. The client-facing front end, which may be a website or a mobile app, must now make a request, verify the response, understand the received results, and lastly render the text box on the user’s display.
It is critical to have technical personnel on hand to drive the architecture in a genuine headless pattern. In the absence of the right people, a headless architecture can potentially evolve over time into a monolith encompassing numerous functions in a single component/building block. This entails the interdependence of separate components (microservices) in order for them to be managed appropriately. Management of the infrastructure for deployment, monitoring, and logging for various components (microservices). The total cost of ownership might rise as the number of individual platforms used increases. In some circumstances, the cost may be higher than that of a conventional platform.
On the one hand, a headless architecture allows you to be more flexible when creating client experiences and enables easy adaptations and transitions for future changes. On the other hand, it necessitates the creation and management of a team of competent technical professionals. This might place a significant burden on your company’s resources.
When launching a new business, monolithic commerce systems that serve all services in one can still be a smart solution. The time to market is quicker, and numerous fast wins may be obtained in a short period of time. A thorough architecture assessment and future roadmap analysis are necessary to determine whether a headless architecture is appropriate for your digital commerce platform. It also necessitates ongoing commitment from the company’s management, as constructing, maintaining, and developing the headless architecture is a never-ending process.
Many firms have already adopted this strategy and are experiencing the benefits of this flexible architecture. With more and more firms adopting the pattern, it’s safe to say that it’s becoming the new normal in the world of internet commerce.
TerminusDB as a headless architecture
If you’re looking into headless architectures for your organization or project then consider TerminusDB and TerminusX.
TerminusDB is an immutable document graph database that creates a graph from JSON documents. As a graph database, business logic is embedded into the data layer and as segments of the graph are JSON documents, turning your data backend into a headless architecture is more straightforward, plus you also get lots of other features like collaboration and version control tools to branch and query data helping you build more collaborative and intelligent applications.
For more information about how TerminusDB can help you have a read of these articles. Alternatively, getting started is easy. Either install TerminusDB or sign up for TerminusX to get started in minutes. Join us on Discord for troubleshooting or to discuss your ideas and seek inspiration.