What is headless architecture? How does it help us? How can it be implemented? To better understand this type of approach, let me tell you about the 5 advantages of this type of architecture.
To start with, headless architecture is the logical next step for digital platforms:
With its “API-centric” approach, a headless architecture goes hand in hand with an omnichannel architecture. All the functions exposed in API form (customer account, product catalogue, cart, order management, etc.) can be easily reused on all channels.
By separating the front end (UX) from the back end (business), they can be upgraded independently, and above all at the right rates. Of course, the front end is upgraded much more quickly than the back. By separating them, the user experience can be upgraded much more quickly and brand time-to-market requirements met.
From a UX point of view, by separating front from back, it becomes possible to look beyond the limits of OTS solutions and create a USP-level experience.
From a functional point of view, headless architecture is part of a widespread trend of separating major “all-in-one” monolithic applications into applications focused on a specific business field. When an OTS solution is used, the quantity of built-in customisations can be limited and maintainability boosted. When a specialised need arises, innovative solutions that would have been complicated to integrate earlier can be identified.
Back when websites were built on monolithic OTS platforms, even the most minor development needed developers with specific skills, which were even harder to find if the product was specialised. By separating front from back, specialised technology-specific teams can be assembled. For example, a UX-focused front-end team of web developers, which are far easier to recruit, and a smaller back-end team of harder-to-come-by specialists.
The fifth advantage concerns so-called ”core model” platforms. Many customers deploy e-commerce sites worldwide or for multiple brands. By separating front from back, it’s much easier to create a “core model” system based on a common API. The deployed brands or countries then have a lot of leeway to focus on the front and create a USP-level experience.
Headless architecture has become the most common structure for creating omnichannel, agile and innovative digital platforms.
The principal digital solution publishers have taken this into account by reorienting their products for use in headless mode. Newcomers have also emerged, offering an “API first” approach to CMS and e-commerce from day 1.
But implementing them in an existing system, which requires refactoring of existing applications, is quite a major operation, similar to open-heart surgery. Every implementation plan is unique, based on the existing IS, and takes a lot of architectural and planning work to build and deploy with the lowest possible impact.
Nicolas Chapin, Business Architect