In the words of Henry VIII, “Headless is all the rage”. Omni-channel marketers are discovering the many benefits of headless technologies, but are also realizing some of the drawbacks. Conventional headless implementations typically move control over experience optimization (personalization, automation, AB testing) away from marketing operations and back to coders, and headless solutions typically don’t work and play well with existing solutions. Sitecore JSS, part of Sitecore Omni, puts headless development at the forefront of Sitecore development, while still empowering marketers and allowing incremental adoption.

Sitecore Omni, and more specifically, Sitecore JSS (JavaScript Services), is poised to unseat MVC for the title of preferred presentation technology. The change is due. MVC has served us well but is beginning to show its age:

  • With MVC, Sitecore builds tend to be large and monolithic, making them slow to build, resource hungry, and less nimble.
  • Front-end development is relegated to the creation and styling of prototype HTML, which is in turn interpreted by back-end developers to built components. This can be a cumbersome process for websites that require continuous improvement.
  • Front-end frameworks (React, Vue and Angular) have matured dramatically and represent a leap forward, taking the frontend world beyond structure and styling, and into functional development and componentry. Developers coming into the marcom stack prefer to work with these technologies.

With these frameworks taking the experience management world by storm, marketers are finding their developers can deliver more rich experiences, faster, and with quicker deployment. On the other hand, marketers have been losing the ability to operationalize experience management functions, like personalization, automation and testing. In a “classic” JavaScript framework build (if anything so new could be called “classic”), using for example React, implementation of these critical experience management functions falls to developers. For marketers who value the ability to tune personalization or automation in production, or to implement and evaluate AB tests at will, this shift represents the “one step back” in this “two steps forward” scenario.

Sitecore’s visionaries wanted to empower developers of headless, front-end-centric technologies, but weren’t satisfied to degrade the control over engagement optimization that Experience Editor gives to marketers. With that in mind, JSS embraces three key principles:

  • Front-end developers can work disconnected, with their preferred toolset, with Sitecore-provided tooling that enables their work to be deployed into Sitecore.
  • Once in Sitecore, the componentry created by front-end developers can be used seamlessly in the Experience Editor, enabling experience optimization at the marketing operations level.
  • Solution architecture can allow deployment utilizing low-cost Node.js delivery servers and CDNs in front of the Sitecore CD, dramatically reducing Sitecore load and therefore required Sitecore resources.

With the release of Sitecore 9.2, JSS becomes even more interconnected with the rest of Sitecore. For example, it’s now possible to create SXA JSS “Tenants”, allowing JSS sites to leverage key SXA features like page and partial designs, and allowing sites to more easily federate multiple technologies (SXA, JSS, MVC) into a single site.

JSS is ushering in a new era of Sitecore development, giving marketers the rich capabilities they want without losing the optimization control they need. Sitecore has always benefitted from a separation of concerns between content and presentation. With JSS and the Omni, this separation of concerns is manifested at application architecture level. This isolation of presentation code from the Sitecore runtime will dramatically simplify issues around application performance optimization. No longer will there be finger-pointing between Sitecore code and “client code”. This isolation paves the path to Sitecore as a true SAAS platform in the future

Do you have questions? We have answers — How can your organization reap the benefits of headless technology, across channels, without losing marketing control over experience optimization? How can you simplify your martech by incrementally shifting to headless technologies? How can JSS and Sitecore Omni help build a revenue engine? To answer these questions and more, reach out to Arke.