Headless: A state-of-the-art approach

Iñaki BarturenAugust 09, 2022

Over the past few years, the growth of digital ecosystems has been a phenomenon; commercial platforms, applications, microservices, clouds, and a long list of categories, in which headless technology has been the main protagonist.

Scope, elasticity, scalability, and modularity are attributes that this approach has brought to digital architecture, earning it the fame and recognition it enjoys today.

Headless: A state-of-the-art approach

Headless and its foundations

While writing our articles, we usually focus on the latest releases and upgrades, and in general, we emphasize technologies that solve the new challenges of large brands. But this time, we'll start by focusing on the base components of our entire philosophy.

Static and dynamic websites:

Back in the day, the web was a populated place of static websites, i.e., sites with a different and unchanging HTML on each page throughout digital interaction. Remember blogging days? Originally, websites were pretty much the same. Until dynamic websites appeared.

Dynamic websites were quickly trending due to their ability to offer a vast range of content and ways of interacting with the user through many systems and applications in a large software piece. Thus, many brands wanted to use them to personalize the experience. In fact, this principle is still quite prevalent in digital architecture.

But why are we talking about something so well-known? Because headless comes from it.

Whole to parts

Some time ago, having all the e-Commerce tools in the same system was the most efficient solution for site customization. Still, this type of tool package has become limited as the web expands — with more than 5 billion users connected to the internet.

Unable to adapt to an increasingly segmented and diverse public, the coupling and interdependence of the parts, like the monolith, meant too much on the plate.

So the answer was changing the logic of building platforms, or in other words, decoupling. It meant overcoming the constraint of the large software piece with multiple modules of smaller size and being able to connect with different systems. The best way to do that was to go back to their static origins.

If you want to learn more about headless, its transition process, and the current trends of this architecture, follow these links: [1] [2] [3].

Current static websites

Overall, the new use of static websites is in its infancy compared to conventional WordPress platforms, where 4 out of 10 websites rely on it. But practically speaking, it's amazing how static sites are taking over the web again; actually, the use of Static Site Generators (SSG) has doubled per year since 2019.

One of the most important reasons for this behavior is the expansion of headless and modular ecosystems. These environments encourage static website adoption as the basis to incorporate all the required functionalities and integrations, such as JAMstack.

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JAMstack over the years

JAMstack is a web development philosophy built on static websites, cloud-native integrations, and serverless functions connected via API, aiming to create customized, flexible and scalable platforms, for each component and as a whole.

Its core principles are decoupling and pre-rendering, allowing the development of platforms capable of running smoothly, even with slower connections.

These features have boosted its popularity, for example, increasing JAMstack sites by 85% between 2019 and 2020. If we look at it from a mobile-oriented website, the growth was 147% in the same timeframe. Showing its strong performance in modern platform creation.

JAMstack accounted for 1 % of the websites until 2021, which once again seems to be small in relative figures, but given the 1.2 billion websites.) in the world, we are talking about 12 million websites, most of which are new.

Headless and JAMstack gain traction

Another interesting approach is how they value technologies within JAMstack, such as Vercel, a framework for headless frontend development, which raised $102 million. Netlify also stood out, getting a $105 million round of funding in 2021.

That same year, Contentful, our favorite content platform*,* raised a $175 million round of funding. It also won two big awards: on the one hand, it was named by Forbes as one of the 100 best cloud companies of the year 2021. And on the other, Contentful was recognized as one of the 100 best companies for remote jobs in 2022. Strong evidence of how these technologies are meeting today's challenges.

At Reign, we work and breathe JAMstack platforms; we excel at it, and to achieve this, we work allied with the best partners in the headless ecosystem, such as Contentful, Algolia, and Commerce Layer.