Frontend-first development: the key to ecommerce scalability

Scalability, adaptability and flexibility have never been more important in e-commerce. E-commerce businesses now have to ensure that their sites are up to scratch when it comes to the online shopping experience customers expect. This can lead to replatforming or website overhauls needing to take place more and more often. 

But, if you’ve decided to overhaul your e-commerce website, where should you start? Well, chances are, a frontend-first approach will be a great fit for you. Let’s take an in-depth look into frontend-first development. We will explain what it is, why it is critical for e-commerce businesses, and go over the best practices for implementing frontend-first development and integrating it into the overall development process.

When it comes to replatforming, we recommend the progressive migration approach, more on that here.

What is Frontend-first development?

Frontend-first development is an approach to web application development that prioritizes the development of the user interface and user experience. This approach involves designing and building the front-end of a website or web application before its back-end. By focusing on the front-end first, developers can quickly iterate and make changes based on user interaction and feedback, resulting in a better user experience and increased business growth.

What are the benefits of frontend-first development for e-commerce?

A successful e-commerce business is entirely dependent on an efficient and agreeable user experience and interface design. So, when building e-commerce web applications, user interaction must be a focal point for the entire project. Developers will agree that starting with the frontend can be particularly beneficial in this scenario. By prioritizing frontend development, e-commerce developers can create a visually appealing and intuitive interface that resonates with customers. They can also test the UI in successive iterations, making tweaks and improvements to ensure the user experience is as smooth and efficient as possible. This approach can help ensure that the final product meets the needs and expectations of users, leading to increased engagement and conversions.

Frontend-first development can also help developers prioritize the most critical features for the client. By focusing on the frontend first and gathering feedback from users, developers can identify the features that are most important for customers and only then build the backend to support these features. This can save time and resources that might otherwise be spent building backend features that nobody will ever use.

Overall, frontend-first development can be highly beneficial for e-commerce, helping developers create a visually appealing and intuitive interface, prioritizing critical features, and identifying potential issues early on.

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Why front-end in development should be prioritised in e-commerce replatformings

In modern software development, there is a growing recognition of the importance of prioritizing the frontend of applications. Traditionally, back-end development was often given priority, with the frontend taking a back seat until later in the development cycle. However, this approach can create significant challenges and ultimately lead to suboptimal user experiences and business growth.

One of the most significant challenges in traditional backend-focused development is that the focus is often on building functionality rather than user experience. This approach can lead to a disconnect between what the application does and how it is experienced by users. And it can be difficult to make changes to the user interface after the backend development is complete, leading to missed opportunities to improve the user experience. Considering how important user experience is to e-commerce businesses, this is a huge issue.

In contrast, front-first development approaches prioritize the user experience, which can lead to improved engagement and satisfaction. By developing the frontend first, developers can create an intuitive, visually appealing interface that resonates with users, improving engagement and conversions. Of course, this can ultimately lead to better business outcomes. In today’s highly competitive digital landscape, businesses must prioritize user experience to remain competitive. By building an exceptional front-end experience, businesses can differentiate themselves from the competition, drive customer loyalty, and ultimately grow their business.

Starting with the frontend allows the focus to be on the end-user’s real needs. Being user-centric in a frontend-first approach will lead to components and APIs that use terms from the domain (the ubiquitous language at the core of Domain Driven Design). This is something I really appreciate in a project, as it helps the whole team (not just developers) speak the same language. It is really useful when building a project, but it is even more important during its long-term maintenance. 

– Pierre Martin, CTO at Front-Commerce

How to Implement Frontend-First Development

To implement frontend-first development, there are several key factors to consider. The first and most important element is clear and open communication around shared goals. Both the frontend and backend developers, as well as all the relevant stakeholders must agree on a common goal. The frontend and backend developers must then set up a shared API between them.

Next up is the choice of front-end frameworks and technologies that will be used. There are several popular options available, including React, Angular, Vue.js, and others. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to evaluate them based on the specific needs of the project.

On top of choosing the right framework, there are also several best practices to keep in mind when implementing front-first development. One important approach is to use iterative development, which involves regularly testing and refining the user interface based on feedback. This can help to ensure that the front-end is meeting user needs and expectations, and can also reduce the risk of major issues or problems arising later in the development process.

Overall, front-first development can be a highly effective approach for creating user-friendly, intuitive interfaces that drive business growth. By choosing the right front-end frameworks and technologies, following best practices for iterative development and user testing, and integrating front-first development into the overall development process, teams can build compelling front-ends that deliver value for both users and the business.

Key Takeaways

  • Frontend-first development prioritizes the development of the user interface and user experience before the back-end
  • A successful e-commerce business depends on an efficient and agreeable user experience and interface design.
  • Frontend-first development can help developers prioritize the most critical features for the client, identify potential issues early on, and gather feedback from users.
  • Frontend-first development can lead to improved engagement and satisfaction, which can ultimately lead to better business outcomes.
  • To implement frontend-first development, there must be clear and open communication around shared goals, setting up a shared API between frontend and backend developers, choosing the right framework and technologies, and following best practices for iterative development and user testing.

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