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Customer perspective to Web technology choices

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Custom front-ends vs. CMS-based implementation. What are the benefits of decoupled approach? What are the challenges with the decoupled approach?

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Customer perspective to Web technology choices

  1. 1. 2015-12-07 Perttu Tolvanen (@perttutolvanen) / Web on the Edge Conference (Helsinki, Finland) Customer perspective to web technology choices Customfront-endsvs.CMS-basedimplementation
  2. 2. 2 Advisor in buying web and e-commerce projects technologyevaluations, platformselections,implementationpartnernegotiations
  3. 3. The past and the future of web technology? 3 Traditional static html publishing (+scripts & includes) Era of platforms (CMSs and e-commerce platforms) 2000- 2004- 2014- Real web applications (Javascript-powered user experiences)
  4. 4. Or just different options? 4 Traditional static html publishing (+scripts & includes) Platforms CMSs and e-commerce platforms 2000- 2004- 2014- Custom front-end Javascript-powered user experiences, even SPA This has many names: decoupled approach, headless (Drupal) and so on… Burning question right now: how to choose your approach if you have both website requirements and rich- application requirements? (and hybrid approaches are not very easy either…)
  5. 5. ”What is the best approach for me?” 5 Traditional static html publishing (+scripts & includes) Platforms CMSs and e-commerce platforms 2000- 2004- 2014- Custom front-end Javascript-powered user experiences, even SPA This has many names: decoupled approach, headless (Drupal) and so on… Decoupled approach is now coming back and many CMSs are wondering which direction to go… e.g. Drupal with headless vs. traditional, WordPress with REST API development… and so on.
  6. 6. How to choose between different approaches?
  7. 7. 2) Business owner requirements (management experience) How to choose between different approaches? 7 1) End-user requirements (target experience) 3) Technical flexibility (concept readiness) 4) Ownership requirements (lifecycle, support, cost) Agencies and developers tend to over-emphasize technical flexibility because they don’t want to disappoint customers by being inflexible. Customers tend to over- emphasize stability and proven-technologies. Those things are important if you are building a long-term solution, not when you are doing new business. These are often under- emphasized in technological decisions.
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  13. 13. Platforms vs. custom front-ends: 1) end user requirements 13 End-user requirements (target experience) • Time to first impression vs. rich experience after initial loading • Lenght of sessions: new visitors vs. engaged customers • Activities in sessions: browsing vs activities • Google ranking requirements (speed and performance, especially Javascript) ”When we drive traffic from campaigns to the site, it needs to load quickly and browsing must be fast.”
  14. 14. Platforms vs. custom front-ends: 2) business owner 14 • Content management requirements, e.g. media asset management, adding new content, preview capabilities • Digital marketing requirements, e.g. landing page management, changing media elements • Personalization requirements & future visions • Optimization requirements, e.g. SEO, A/B testing • How much internal marketing/content editing resources does the client’s web team have? Business owner requirements (management experience) ”How do I create campaigns and landing pages? How do I edit the front page?”
  15. 15. Platforms vs. custom front-ends: 2) business owner 15 ”How do I create campaigns and landing pages? How do I edit the front page?” For example Contentful is a great tool, but horrible for content editors (as any other API-CMS since you have no WYSIWYG, no preview, no scheduling).
  16. 16. Platforms vs. custom front-ends: 2) business owner 16 ”How do I create campaigns and landing pages? How do I edit the front page?” Business owners would prefer platforms (e.g. EPiServer or Sitecore) over any other choice if that would be only factor. Getting previews and rich editing experiences is truly powerful when you need to do constant optimization, content edits, landing pages and so on.
  17. 17. Platforms vs. custom front-ends: 3) technical flexibility 17 • Concept readiness / stability – do we know what we are doing? • Are we going to add a lot of features after the first version is live? • Are we going to build native mobile applications later? • Bottom line: The more you need technical flexibility (or fear that you need), the more it makes sense to build the front- end as custom implementation. ”We don’t know if this works, we might have to change the concept radically after 6 months or so.” 3) Technical flexibility (concept readiness)
  18. 18. Platforms vs. custom front-ends: 4) ownership • Stability of the chosen technology • Availability of developers • Cost of initial building and maintenance • Bottom line: Longer the lifecycle, the more this matters. 4) Ownership requirements (lifecycle, support, cost)
  19. 19. Guidelines for decision-making 1. Find out the client’s capabilities, requirements and wishes before choosing your approach. 2. What is most important? In end-user experience? In business owner expectations? How much technical flexibility is expected? How much budget has been reserved for the project? 3. Make sure the client understands the implications of choosing a decoupled architecture. API-CMSs, like Contentful, can make a lot of sense from architecture point of view, but they are not something that content editors like… 4. If you recommend an SPA-approach, especially explain what ’time to first impression’ means. SPA-approach can become very heavy (initial load, device performance). 5. And remember, platforms are not dead. They will come up with new hybrid/progressive approaches to help building more Javascript-driven experiences. Also clients expect to have increasing control over their websites and applications – especially when they start doing real business through the web service. 19
  20. 20. Perttu Tolvanen Web & CMS Expert, Partner Perttu Tolvanen is a CMS expert that helps clients choose partners and technologies for their Web, intranet and eCommerce projects. His daily work involves writing RFPs, analyzing proposals, meeting vendors and facilitating workshops. perttu.tolvanen@northpatrol.com +358 50 685199 @perttutolvanen http://www.perttutolvanen.com linkedin.com/in/perttutolvanen 20
  21. 21. www.northpatrol.com/blog 21 Buyer’s Guide to Web Projects

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