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Max Ikäheimo
Max Ikäheimo

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Modern web development: From WordPress to serverless and beyond

Modern web development: From WordPress to serverless and beyond

The digital world is witnessing a seismic shift in web development practices and how websites get built. With the emergence of composable and serverless architecture, along with headless CMSs and platforms like Netlify and Vercel, that redefine how companies and brands build on the web.

These technologies are not just reshaping the developer and user experience; they're also setting new standards for performance, scalability, and efficiency.

The strategic approach to web architecture is also evolving. Companies are moving away from one-size-fits-all solutions and towards building their own unique, composable technology stacks. This allows for the crafting of distinctive digital experiences, a crucial factor in standing out in a crowded market. 

While the desire to build bespoke solutions is strong, there's also a practical balance to strike—companies want to buy components that work out of the box and integrate themselves with solution partners who can help them reach new heights.

But what does this shift mean for companies and how they can stay competitive? Let’s take a look.

In this post:

The shift from monoliths

The traditional monolithic approach to software development, championed by Platforms like WordPress or Drupal, where every part of your website tech stack is housed under one roof, gives way to a more modular approach. In a composable world, functions are accessible as APIs, allowing for the separate construction of digital touchpoints and managing data from different components. 

This shift is crucial for specialization and enables a faster time to market, which is vital in today's fast-paced digital landscape.

Read more: What is a headless CMS?

Headless: the new standard in web architecture

In modern web development, key concepts like headless architecture, composability, and Jamstack (JavaScript, APIs, Markup) are shaping the creation of efficient, scalable, and secure web applications. Headless architecture separates the front-end from the back-end, simplifying development and allowing focus on specific aspects of web apps without the complexity of a monolithic structure.

Composability, with its modular approach, enables the combination of different components to create versatile applications, aligning well with progressive web apps known for their native-like user experience. Jamstack leverages client-side JavaScript, APIs, and prebuilt Markup for dynamic web applications, emphasizing performance and scalability.

This shift towards modern, flexible, and performance-oriented solutions, including the use of headless CMS and APIs, reflects a broader move towards microservices architecture, allowing for the independent development, deployment, and scaling of various services in complex web applications.

Read more: A guide to headless CMS implementation

The efficiency of composability

Composable architecture has become a significant trend beyond just web developers, attracting attention from stakeholders, marketers, and enterprise architects. Its adoption is driven by the need for differentiated, adaptable solutions in the fast-paced web market.

Composable approach offers strategic advantages in modern web development, including efficiency in integrating various workflows, enhanced security with easier maintenance, and the agility to quickly publish or revert changes.

This makes composable architecture a key player in responsive web design and modern web technology, providing a streamlined process for front-end developers and web designers to create engaging, secure web pages that align with core web vitals and market demands.

Read more: What is composable architecture?

Netlify: the ecosystem for modern web development

Netlify has emerged as a highly regarded platform in the realm of modern web application development, known for its ability to streamline the software development process. It achieves this by integrating various technologies, services, and APIs into a unified workflow, which is particularly beneficial for rapid deployments and collaborative development efforts.

A significant number of enterprise companies are engaging with properties hosted on Netlify, underscoring its impact in the modern web landscape. This is partly due to Netlify's commitment to performance at scale.

Strategic efficiency and cost-effectiveness

The platform's adoption of innovative approaches like Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR) and edge functions greatly optimizes build times, even for large-scale sites. Moreover, Netlify's support for a wide array of over 50 frameworks, including static site generators like Hugo and Jekyll, aligns well with current web standards and the growing popularity of serverless architecture.

Netlify's strategic efficiency and cost-effectiveness are also noteworthy. The shift to architectures supported by Netlify is not just a technological upgrade but a strategic decision that boosts productivity and performance. This transition, often involving the use of JavaScript frameworks and cloud computing, can lead to significant cost savings.

Performance at scale

Netlify's embrace of innovative approaches like Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR) and edge functions optimizes build times for even the largest sites. The platform supports a diverse range of over 50 frameworks, with static site generators like Hugo and Jekyll becoming increasingly popular for their performance benefits.

Such savings enable the allocation of resources to other strategic initiatives, further enhancing the development of single-page applications and other modern web solutions. The platform's ability to work seamlessly across different web browsers also adds to its versatility and appeal in the software development community.

Read more: What is Netlify?

Vercel: optimizing for performance and scalability

Vercel stands out as a platform meticulously crafted to enhance scalability and performance. It simplifies deployment, automates workflows, and ensures global peak performance. Vercel's infrastructure is particularly adept at supporting serverless applications, designed for rapid iteration and scalability.

The power of headless architecture

Vercel is a proponent of headless architecture, which allows for the decoupling of the front-end from the back-end. This separation provides the flexibility to create unique, tailored user experiences—especially in eCommerce, where headless architectures are proving to be a game-changer in boosting conversions.

Enhanced user experiences

With Vercel, businesses can leverage headless eCommerce to create highly customizable and performant websites. This approach ensures faster load times and smoother user experiences, which are critical for driving engagement and conversions in eCommerce.

Read more: What is Vercel?

Headless eCommerce: boosting conversions

Headless architectures, particularly in eCommerce, have emerged as a powerful strategy to enhance user experiences and boost conversions. A headless approach in eCommerce allows for a separation between the frontend presentation layer and the backend eCommerce functionality.

  • Increased flexibility: Headless eCommerce allows for a high degree of customization and flexibility, enabling businesses to create unique, tailored user experiences that drive engagement and conversions.

  • Enhanced performance: Websites built using a headless architecture tend to be more performant, ensuring faster load times and a smoother user experience, which is crucial for eCommerce platforms.

  • Seamless integrations: Headless architectures facilitate easy integrations with various systems and platforms, allowing ecommerce businesses to leverage a wide array of tools and technologies to enhance their offerings.

Read more: What is composable commerce

A unified vision for the future web

The combination of all of these elements under the umbrella of composability represents a unified vision for the future of web development. This confluence of technologies ensures that web applications are not only built with performance and scalability in mind but also with a keen focus on the developer experience.

The proliferation of headless CMS and APIs signifies a broader trend towards microservices. This approach treats backend business logic as a collection of services that can be consumed and reused across different platforms, providing the agility needed for today's fast-paced, marketing-driven web environments.

In this era of rapid digital transformation, the ability to architect for change has become a non-negotiable. Companies must be agile enough to adapt and differentiate as new technologies emerge. The web, with its vast potential for building digital experiences, is the ideal platform for this evolution, and developers are at the heart of this creative process.

Embracing the modern web

As we navigate the modern landscape of web development, it's clear that embracing technologies like headless and serverless, as well as platforms like Netlify and Vercel, is crucial. 

They are instrumental in building a future web that is robust, scalable, and attuned to the dynamic needs of users. The future of web development is here, and it's being defined by performance, security, and efficiency.

Best practices for modern web development

  • Embrace modular and composable architecture: Modern web development favors modular and composable architectures over monolithic structures. This approach, exemplified by technologies like Jamstack, offers greater flexibility and scalability. Developers should aim to build applications as a collection of independent, yet interoperable modules, often utilizing APIs. This modularity simplifies updates, maintenance, and scalability.

  • Prioritize headless CMS and decoupled systems: The rise of headless CMS and the separation of front-end and back-end systems are central to modern web development. This division allows for more creative freedom in the front-end and specialized services in the back-end. Implementing a headless CMS should include seamless integration with other services and a robust API for content delivery.

  • Focus on performance optimization: Performance is a critical metric in modern web development. Techniques like Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR) and the use of edge functions can optimize load times and overall performance. Developers should also concentrate on optimizing images, employing lazy loading, and minimizing CSS and JavaScript files to enhance page speed.

  • Ensure robust security measures: With the increasing complexity of web applications, security is paramount. Practices such as regular security audits, using HTTPS, protecting against common web vulnerabilities like SQL injection and XSS, and keeping dependencies up-to-date are essential for maintaining the integrity of web applications.

  • Choose the right development partner: Agencies like Ikius specialize in the latest web development technologies and trends. They are adept at using modern frameworks and architectures, ensuring that your web projects are built on solid, future-proof foundations.

Starting the journey to modern web

For organizations, large or small, the journey towards a composable architecture depends on goals and stakeholders. Team extension services facilitate this transition, offering a pathway for gradual migration and experimentation. 

This is particularly relevant for organizations with legacy systems and multiple content sources, where a complete overhaul is not feasible or practical.

In this journey, the choice of the right agency to guide and assist is crucial. A competent web development agency can provide invaluable expertise and insights, helping organizations navigate the complexities of modern web technologies and methodologies. 

The right agency will understand the unique challenges and opportunities of each organization, offering tailored solutions that align with their long-term digital strategy. 

By partnering with an agency that has a proven track record in modern web development, organizations can ensure a smoother transition, minimize disruptions, and maximize the potential of their digital presence. 

In essence, the journey to modern web development is not just about technology adoption; it's about strategic transformation and partnership, ensuring that organizations stay competitive and relevant in the digital age.

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