Devices getting smarter and the dynamics of interactions are changing
As digital technologies mature and become more ubiquitous, its impact on the life of the users is ever expanding. From industries and economies to personalized touch points, digital technologies are transforming every aspect of human life. Over the time, digitalization has reshaped indispensable human interactions with each other as well as with the environment around us.
With the evolution in technology, the devices have become more empowered and connectivity advancements have made the overall systems smart. Users now derive greater value of out those systems changing the way in which we interact and interface with these smart elements that make up our ecosystem.
In the recent past, connectivity was a challenge or even a concept which found realization only in laboratories and institutions. The devices could be operated and accessed with the help of a display which would be tightly coupled with the device like an integrated element.
Success of a product is immensely based upon the User Experience that it offers. Contributing factors range from the difference in hardware like screen size and processing power to the purpose of usage. User experience is impacted by the ability to enable users to effectively achieve their end objective with a product.
In today’s dynamically evolving technology, it can very restrictive to design a system that cannot lend to deployment in diverse environment. However, factoring all the scenarios can exponentially increase the cost of development yet leave the system inflexible. ‘Separation of Concerns’ is a proven and popular design pattern that can be successfully adopted to create a future proof product.
With the evolution of smart devices, the need for effective multichannel content publishing has been rising steadily. Headless architecture offers an improved solution and additional benefits for producing and managing content while also ensuring a seamless experience.
What is Headless Architecture? – In headless architecture user interface components are separated from the underlying logic & mechanism of a component. This works advantageously great when the logic of a component is sufficiently complex and decoupled from its visual representation. This makes it easier to update the interface as per user requirements, and extract more usability out of the respective component.
Separation of Concerns
Interface and mechanism are likely to evolve on different timescales at different pace, with interfaces changing much faster than the underlying mechanism. Demands in trends for the appearance and user interface are subjected to time and changes more frequently, however, the underlying mechanism tends to remain same.
Tying up interfaces and mechanisms tightly together has the following undesirable consequences:
- It makes interfaces rigid and harder to change in response to user requirements, and it means that trying to change interfaces has a strong tendency to destabilize the mechanism.
- By separating the interface from the underlying mechanism, it is possible to tryout various interfaces without having to change or break the mechanism.
Role of Headless in post COVID world
Current times are witnessing pandemic crisis like never before. Even after months of battling, we are still equally unaware as we were when the virus had initially hit us. One sure solution figured out to avoid if not win over the infectious virus is contact less. The only answer that promises businesses to restore operations are the post COVID strategies which are centered around contactless, remote collaboration, remote access, digital and delivery of services with minimum physical interaction possible. Headless architecture provides a spectrum of potential that can be incorporated to leverage the benefits while implementing post COVID arrangements. Headless lets you create your own ‘touch’.
Advantages of the Headless Approach
- Aiding different delivery channels – A delivery channel is multiple ways of information getting consumed, for instance mobile phone, laptop, smart TV, voice assistants etc. Headless architecture works by distributing the content across various platforms keeping the backend constant for all. Once the content is separated, it can be delivered through any channel. With the world under lockdown and average screen time per individual rising, it is vital to opt for multi-channel approach for effective communication and headless can be most effective with minimal changes to the actual backend content.
- Flexibility – Headless architecture gives developers a lot of flexibility which is contrasting to the traditional architecture that is more restrictive. Headless gives more freedom to the developers to use a front-end framework that is more time frame accurate and keeping pace with the changing demands of the users. More so, the newer ways of handling business post pandemic will give rise to user demands novel in nature and the flexibility offered by headless will serve as a leverage for a shorter time to market.
- Advanced User Experiences – The freedom to innovate makes developers create breakthrough user experiences and keep track with advances in user experience. Developers can easily future-proof their offerings by revamping the design without having to re-implement the entire backend system, leveraging the existing software created in accordance with the present platform. In the pandemic struck world, User experience has become more significant than ever with digital and online becoming the new normal mode of business.
- Easy to scale up – Given to the business response on technological front, in the near future the delivery channels are likely to grow manifolds, headless can be scaled up to cater to every new channel as the interface can be easily upgraded and customized without compromising the performance, given that the content is constant. For instance, the demographics of the audience that any software is targeted at changes, the entire software will have to be changed. However, if we decouple the content from the user interface, it can be quickly revised to meet the needs of the new demographics.
- Flatter learning curve- Headless allows to render the content to a paradigm which can enable people to learn it faster. Like a big machine or equipment’s interface is chunky and tied to its functionality elements. For instance, let’s consider the example of a microwave over. In order to get it fully operational there will be a certain learning curve, and one might take time to be able to adapt to all of its functionality. Now let’s say the functionality is rendered on an interface that the user is very comfortable with like a mobile phone. If we are able to provide similar interface to a microwave oven, it will completely flatten the learning curve.
- Deskill the job- When we separate the content from the way it is rendered, the training becomes a lot simpler. Consider an industry specific example of quick serve restaurants and fast food chains. The kitchen equipment that they use is industry grade high end equipment. The employees at these food joints are young and the overall turnaround is high with a high attrition rate. In order to induct new members and make them productive very fast means you need to quicken the learning process. This can be done with the help of an interface that this generation is familiar with like a mobile phone, they will be able to learn the operations of the device much faster due to the comfort with the delivery channel. By simplifying the user interface, a person not skilled for the job can easily operate the device. Such applications can also provide an added advantage of contactless access to the machinery in a commercial setup.
- Enhance deployment of the device- It is possible to separate the nuances of the complexity of the device from its operations by virtue of headless approach. For e.g., in order to operate a microwave oven, the buttons are placed on the device itself. Now assuming that there is a web app to control the microwave, this headless approach can help in providing remote access to the device.
- Easily skinnable- Skin is the UI layer that is applied to any software. For e.g. a software caters to the young generation, now there is a need to design it for the elderly. One can change the skin with large fonts, etc. This means we can change the skin, without having to modify the entire software. Headless allows to offer diversity of user experience.
Do You Need Headless Architecture?
In order to make sure that headless is the way for your offering, following factors can play a significant role in making the decision:
- Tenure: How long will this component live for
- Value: Is it worth deliberately preserving the mechanism aside from the interface
- Reuse: Perhaps to use this mechanism in another project with a different look and feel
- Frequency: How frequently is our interface bound to change
- Touch points: Will you have multiple touch points with your users
- Technology: Use of a modern tech stack for managing and delivering your digital assets
- Control: Centralized control over content publishing across channels
- Performance: Ensure the highest performance for your digital assets
- Implementation: Give your developers more freedom to implement the front-end
How HCL can you help in your journey
As a global engineering services provider, HCL supports organizations to maintain their competitive advantage, through an integrated strategy that facilitates continuous improvement across the product realization value stream, while accelerating revenue growth through innovation. Leveraging combined strengths in software engineering, digital engineering, experience design, mechanical engineering, manufacturing engineering, and electronics and engineering IT, HCL brings together a unique blend of traditional and next generation global engineering services and global engineering solutions, enabling customers to achieve the right architecture and design for the journey towards headless architectures.
HCL brings together a unique blend of traditional and next generation global engineering services and global engineering solutions, enabling customers to achieve the right architecture and design for the journey towards headless architectures.