How are headless and composables different and why is it important?

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Marketers looking for ways to develop rich digital experiences for desktop, mobile, and IoT have likely come across terms like headless and composable, which resulted from the endless dialogue on how to create digital experiences through API-based approaches. Many misinterpret those two terms as being the same thing. They are not.

Despite their common goal of connecting a tapestry of capabilities to create innovative, compelling, omnichannel experiences, standalone tools and composable frameworks represent different concepts:

  • Without head refers to the fact that the back-end of a product is separate or decoupled from its front-end, the audience-facing experience.
  • composable it refers to the ease of setting up experiences and who is in charge of setting it up. Marketers and business users can create experiences across highly composable platforms; More rigid and less composable systems require developers.

Let’s further define headless and composable with a focus on their pros, cons, and caveats.

Why all the fuss around composable?

Traditionally, website development has been based on all-in-one solutions or a legacy architecture that does not allow integration with new components unless they are of the same solution or architecture. Composable is gaining popularity because it frees up developers to plug and play headless products or components, resulting in optimal speed to market and the ability to quickly test, learn, and innovate. Unlike legacy solutions, composable is always future-proofed with new features, and never forces companies to tear down old infrastructure.


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Essentially, a composable architecture is attractive because of its modularity and flexibility. That is, companies can add components incrementally over time, slowly replacing a legacy system while continuing to use it and adding new tools as they emerge.

Where composable is questioned

Detractors of composable argue that it is too complex, partly because no two composable architectures are the same. Therefore, more internal standards management practice is required to update developers and other staff on specific frameworks and ensure consistency across the organization.

Furthermore, switching between various tools within the technology stack is a difficult task for marketers and business users. Not to mention the overwhelming effect caused by adding too many tools, preventing teams from knowing which one to use for which tasks.

Why the buzz around headless?

Through APIs and microservices, interfaceless products aim to offer limited-scope and specific features. As a result, brands can store, manage and deliver content with the front-end, which is typified as the end-user or “main” experience, completely separate from behind-the-scenes content or commerce functionality.

Three advantages are immediately apparent:

  • Brands get the freedom to use the tools and frameworks they want rather than the ones they must use on a legacy platform.
  • Like composable, headless flexibility offers brands control in executing experiences. Given the lightning-fast speed of creativity in front-end frameworks and presentations over the past five years, outpacing monolithic platforms, brands that embrace headless can create experiences that meet consumer needs and innovate more than ever before.
  • Interface-less tools give brands a choice in how their overall digital experiences play out. For consumers, that freedom fosters a stronger and more honest relationship with their favorite brands.

where headless is questioned

Because headless disconnects the content creation process from content display across all channels, business users and marketers may need to rely on developer assistance to modify and deliver experiences, losing control of the flow of content. general work.

Case in point: Business users who were used to building standard pages or workflows on a monolithic platform might not have the right tools for the job. Since APIs are designed for developer use, most headless products score low on the composable scale.

However, you can weave headless solutions into a composable system with technologies like API aggregation tools, front-end-as-a-service (FEaaS) solutions, and digital experience composition platforms (DXCP), which often impart the highest level of composability due to its API orchestrations and no-code tools for business users.

Deployed solutions are then kept clean of the custom code (sticker code) that binds the APIs together, allowing marketers to create content and other non-technical staff to add capabilities without coding. At the same time, developers are buying time for more value-added projects and a generation of new experiences and channels to keep pace with market changes.

How a headless, composable system can be prone to problems

The biggest pitfall for companies that are ready to adopt headless composable for next-gen experiences is sticky code, which lurks between the back-end and front-end like the pipeline connecting repositories to the visual layer of experiences. Over time, all that code can dry out, harden, and clog the flow of information, almost negating the benefits of being composable and flexible entirely.

Not only that, each of the many tools that go into a composable solution may require additional code. All systems must communicate with each other, and eventually become glue code. To remain composable, developers must loosely couple solution components and avoid piling up sticky code and technology debt. Otherwise, an additional workload is needed to replace systems bogged down in sticky code, drastically slowing down marketing workflows and projects.

With the glue code wreaking havoc, simple tasks like creating web pages aren’t even feasible.

Why it’s important to learn the nuances of composable and headless

In industries like retail, financial services, travel, and hospitality, consumers are looking for more personalized experiences that encompass video, augmented reality (AR), and other engaging features. Consequently, companies must adapt the creation process for immersive and modern experiences, keeping in mind that marketers need systems to update information on the fly and that developers need architectures that free them from tasks such as content management. to focus on engineering-focused projects.

Understanding the ins and outs of headless and composable platforms is critical to delivering the digital experiences modern businesses and consumers expect. Keep in mind, however, that depending on the product, Headless and Composable may not work as smoothly as expected.

Darren Guarnaccia is president of Uniform.


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