What is Decoupled Development & Why Use It?

In traditional web development, a CMS (such as Drupal or WordPress) does 100% of the work. This includes storing all of the client data, allowing the client to edit their data at their own discretion, and determining the front-end theme that is displayed to the site visitor. The front-end theme is tightly coupled to the CMS and tends to be very "plug-and-play." There is also a plethora of community support and constant updates for security and performance.

With decoupled development, the theme is removed entirely from the CMS. This allows the CMS to manage the client's content and other necessary services, such as emailing, while relieving it of the extra effort to configure the front-end portion of the website. The CMS gives the front-end the minimum amount of information possible, leaving the speed of the application dependent on the visitor's computer, and allowing the front-end to be changed completely without touching the CMS.


The Benefits of Decoupled Development

  • Speed is the name of the game, and decoupled development delivers
  • Production and Development ‘modes’ are made much easier with GulpJS
  • 100% control over the theme, making it fully customizable
  • Newest technologies make development easier
  • Extensive community support
  • User experience can more closely follow a desktop application for ease of use
  • Breaks the developers responsibilities down to more maintainable levels
  • The amount of “work” a server does is greatly reduced


Some Potential Downsides to Decoupled Development

  • Some plugins exist for jQuery, but not AngularJS (or other popular front end frameworks)
  • Error handling for web crawlers (404s, 500s, etc.)
  • Image URL’s and other assets (PDFs, Videos, etc.)
  • Data architecture is more complex
  • Understanding which side-specific work should be done (Front-End vs Back-End)

There are several upsides and downsides to implementing decoupled development but the important thing to keep in mind is that it makes website speeds considerably faster, making a huge impact on user experience and tangentially benefiting your site's SEO. While delving into decoupled development could require a bit of a learning curve and includes its own set of challenges, it's certainly worth looking into for your next web initiative.


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