Back to the blog
  • Jun 20, 2023
  • --
Category Business
What Is Digital Experience Composition 1200x628
What is digital experience composition?

What is digital experience composition?

In a nutshell, all you need to commit to memory is this:

Digital experience composition (DXC) brings back WYSIWYG editing to business users working on decoupled frontends in a headless architecture.

In the early days of the headless movement, there was a strong notion about how it could support business users in creating reusable content. But the definition of headless quickly became mostly focused on the technology approach of separating frontend and backend – whereas the content strategy aspect and the content reuse approach for marketers took a backseat.

At Magnolia, we were excited about headless from day one, and we became really serious about creating the most sweeping, enterprise-grade headless solution in our product. That means we’ve had a front-row seat in following customer adoption of headless.

So developers quickly fell in love with all things headless and many customers adopted the approach. Many new vendors were born headless, and established vendors soon realized the importance of the headless approach. Yet marketers often felt left behind as they suddenly could not easily experience what the user would experience. Previewing new experiences wasn’t easy – and direct manipulation of the experience during its creation was even harder.

DXC largely resolves that conflict of interest between developer vs. marketer desires by doing three things:

  1. DXC brings back WYSIWYG editing to headless projects, giving business users a familiar no-code environment to construct digital experiences and intuitively understand how they will be experienced by the end-user.

  2. DXC gives frontend developers a structured environment to produce the UI so that the frontend shifts away from ‘custom code’ to low-code.

  3. DXC gives you an integration layer to connect to DX components, such as content, commerce, search, etc.

In this blog we’ll unpack this new digital experience composition concept and explain how Magnolia champions the approach with our composable Digital Experience Platform (DXP).

DXC defined

Going deeper into the definition of digital experience composition, it connects to the emerging trend of digitally-mature organizations composing their own DXPs from independent and modular systems and services, each providing certain DX capabilities. That’s been Magnolia’s approach since the early 2010s, but many companies are only now coming around to this idea. Digital experience composition handles digital multi-experience orchestration in a headless and composable world. That’s the deeper level, as defined by Gartner’s analysts Mike Lowndes and John Field, who originally coined the term.

DXC enables developers to create digital experiences using APIs that integrate various headless services, for example, content management, commerce, and search. They can then hand over these digital experiences to business users to manage their day-to-day activities in a no-code environment.

A composable DXP acts as the centerpiece of the technology stack, providing a roadmap that enables enterprises to compose their DXP by applying the DXC approach. Sounds complicated? A bit, perhaps, but just remember that it’s all just about bringing back WYSIWYG for business users working on decoupled frontends.

In their original research, Gartner identified three main technologies that, in combination, define a DXC solution that is all crucial to making the approach successful:

  • Frontend as a service

  • Templating and visual editing

  • API integrations

Let’s dive into those!

The components of a DXC solution

Frontend as a service (FEaaS)

Another growing trend in the DXP space is frontend as a service. As the name states, FEaaS provides the frontend of the digital experience, i.e., the presentation layer, such as a web app, and its orchestration. Some vendors also host the frontend as part of their service.

FEaaS helps to accelerate the development of web apps, such as SPAs and PWAs, improving the developer experience and enabling developers to build frontends faster.

Templating and visual editing

This technology lets developers create a catalog of design elements and templates, for example, using a design system. A visual editor makes these elements available to business users, allowing them to compose the digital experience using a certain layout and content from multiple underlying systems. The visual editor leverages drag-and-drop functionality and WYSIWYG editing capabilities to offer a streamlined authoring experience.

API integrations

The API integration layer connects various systems and services via APIs, consolidating all content and data so that it may be used in digital experiences.

What is a composable DXP?

Read this, and you will be able to ask all the right questions and give the answers about the composable DXP. We're all talking about it. But do we actually know what it is? We're taking it down to earth and into the business with this intro blogpost.

The business impact of DXC

Modern businesses are no longer satisfied with monolithic architectures that offer all-in-one solutions. Instead, there has been a general shift away from these approaches towards cloud-based, modular, and scalable solutions that can be easily adapted to changing business needs.

Another reason for the emergence of DXC is that while cloud-based and headless applications offer numerous advantages, these solutions aren’t easy to manage for business users. Many require deep technical expertise and heavy coding, leading to developer dependency.

Moreover, DXC makes it easier for enterprises to keep up with the changes around them. Instead of falling behind the competition, businesses leveraging DXC can move quickly and innovate.

Benefits of adopting DXC

Digital experience composition isn’t necessarily for every organization. However, for those that are ready for it, there are a number of benefits.

Reduced vendor lock-in

Bulky suites and monolithic platforms can lock in businesses, forcing them to continue using the service because it’s too difficult to change to another platform. They offer the supposed benefit of an all-in-one solution with all the capabilities enterprises need.

However, these capabilities aren’t necessarily best-of-breed, forcing companies to use subpar solutions. Meanwhile, maintenance and licensing costs continue to skyrocket due to the business’s reliance on a single vendor. With DXC and its composable architecture, enterprises won’t be restricted in this way and can select tools and software vendors that meet their needs.

Faster time to market

Adopting DXC can improve collaboration between developers and marketers as they each are able to perform their duties without being impacted by the other. That increase in productivity enables organizations to launch campaigns and go to market faster.

Future-proof, modular architecture

DXC provides a flexible and modular architecture that makes integrating new solutions and swapping out those no longer fit for purpose much easier. This gives companies control over how they compose their technology stack, whether that means selecting the best search tool or the ideal ecommerce solution on the market.

Where Magnolia sits in a DXC world

Digital experience composition enables enterprises to adopt a modern, modular approach that future-proofs the technology stack and increases internal productivity. These benefits have the knock-on effect of improving the digital customer experience as these businesses can cater to changing consumer needs much more easily.

Magnolia is a composable DXP providing a flexible and centralized solution for all digital experience needs.

  • Content hub: Magnolia gives access to all content in one place, allowing the reuse of content across channels and preventing duplication.

  • Easy integrations: Magnolia’s composable DXP is perfect for adopting the DXC approach, as it can act as the centerpiece for the composable stack. With Magnolia’s Connector Packs and extensions from the Magnolia marketplace, you can connect any data source, application, or channel, today and in the future.

  • Unified authoring: Magnolia streamlines DX composition in one seamless workflow by providing business users with a WYSIWYG editor that enables marketers to create and manage digital experiences without being dependent on developers. The authoring experience is the same regardless of the content source or whether the experience is deployed traditionally or headlessly.

  • Jamstack-ready: Magnolia is Jamstack-ready, providing the capabilities frontend developers need to orchestrate digital experiences. The Headless Accelerator offers an extensive library of ready-made components that you can style and make your own.

  • Low-code development: Magnolia’s low-code development simplifies and speeds up development using file-based configuration, enabling developers to deliver digital experiences faster.

  • PaaS: Magnolia’s cloud-native platform as a service lets enterprises create, orchestrate, and deploy digital experiences, ensuring high performance and security.

Take a deeper dive into DXC, composability, and other trends impacting the DXP market by reviewing the 2023 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms.

About the Author

Rasmus Skjoldan Chief Evangelist at Magnolia

Rasmus Skjoldan is the Chief Evangelist at Magnolia. With two decades of experience in creative, digital, and marketing roles, Rasmus is a respected authority and regular commentator in the enterprise CMS and digital experience space.

Read more