18 April 2023
At FFW, we believe everyone should have complete control over their digital presence and future success. The initial stage is acquiring knowledge.
Finding the information you need, presented in a way that is easy to understand, can feel like an impossible task. Below, we will explain some of the most common technical terms and jargon to help reduce the confusion in the digital world and enhance your understanding.
Definitions we will cover:
- Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
- Best of Breed
- Composable DXP
- Continuous Delivery (aka Managed Services or Continuous Services)
- Customer Data Platform (CDP)
- Customer Experience (CX)
- Digital Experience (DX)
- Digital Experience Platform (DXP)
- Digital at Scale
- Digital Technology Stack
- Headless CMS
- User Experience (UX)
- User Interface (UI)
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
APIs connect your platform with the tools you utilize. For instance, an API could serve as the bridge between your website and your authentication tool or a search bar powered by Google. Essentially, it provides a means to access data. When a user interacts with something on your site, the API sends a request to the corresponding tool and receives a response in return. It's similar to entering your zip code into a weather app and receiving the weather information for your location.
Best of Breed
Technical Definition: The practice of selecting and utilizing software products from various vendors to obtain the optimal capabilities for each specific application area required by a business, taking into account its unique needs and landscape.
Practical Definition: The term "Best of Breed" refers to different categories of products, technologies, and tools that enable effective digital engagement with audiences. A "Best of Breed" tool is a leading solution within its respective category. Essentially, a Best of Breed tool is a technology that excels in a particular aspect of the overall experience, such as content management (CMS), ecommerce, analytics, customer relationship management (CRM), or hosting.
In the tech community, Best of Breed technology refers to individual solutions that are the top choice in their specific category ("Breed") for a particular organization, considering its unique needs and landscape ("Best of"). A Best of Breed stack refers to a carefully curated set of solutions configured to provide the greatest benefit. This approach is distinct from a monolithic platform or suite, like Adobe Experience Manager, which aims to encompass all functions but may not excel in each specific capability as much as a dedicated solution for that particular area.
Adopting a Best of Breed approach ensures that the organization utilizes the most suitable tools to effectively serve customers, stakeholders, and their respective goals.
Technical Definition: A system architecture approach that emphasizes the utilization of the best-of-breed technologies to fulfill the specific capabilities required by an organization.
Practical Definition: In the past, web platforms were constructed using a monolithic system that controlled all aspects. However, this approach posed challenges when it came to making changes or updates since all tools and content were interconnected. A monolithic system follows a one-size-fits-all approach, whereas a composable stack allows for customization to suit the organization's unique requirements.
To illustrate, consider a monolithic CMS as the engine block of a car – if it fails, the entire vehicle is affected. On the other hand, a composable approach is comparable to a malfunctioning radio or window in a car; the car can still function despite these issues. For instance, if the payment tool on a website encounters an issue, the product information can still be displayed.
A composable Digital Experience Platform (DXP) enables the integration and removal of digital tools in "stacks" (as mentioned below). Rather than relying on a single codebase for the entire website, a composable DXP divides it into modular components that collaborate to form the complete site. For example, an organization might utilize Salesforce CRM for audience engagement, Drupal CMS for content management, Shopify for ecommerce, and Google Analytics for tracking. If the decision is made to switch from Shopify to BigCommerce, a composable DXP allows for the replacement of one tool without requiring the entire stack to be replaced.
Continuous Delivery (aka Managed Services or Continuous Services)
Our Continuous Delivery service functions as a flexible and ongoing support model for engagement. It can be likened to running a marathon rather than a sprint, which is characteristic of more traditional agency engagement models. Throughout our experience in assisting clients with platform optimization, we have encountered a range of scenarios, from simply maintaining the current state of their platforms to creating and implementing new features, as well as focusing on long-term digital goals.
Engaging in a continuous delivery agreement is an effective way to ensure that your website continues to improve, even if a long-term vision for your digital platforms has not been fully established yet. In fact, the Continuous Delivery service can address existing issues and requirements while positioning your digital platform for larger future projects.
Customer Data Platform (CDP)
Technical Definition: A Customer Data Platform (CDP) refers to a collection of software that creates a persistent and unified customer database accessible to other systems. It involves extracting data from multiple sources, performing data cleansing and consolidation to generate a comprehensive customer profile. This structured data is then made available to other marketing systems.
Practical Definition: Are you tired of spending hours creating metrics reports upon leadership's request? With a properly set up CDP, you can reduce that time to just seconds. A CDP streamlines the integration of data systems by collecting analytical data from various sources such as social platforms, websites, ecommerce tools, and more. It establishes a common customer definition and ensures the accuracy and reliability of the data. In essence, CDPs offer a robust solution to eliminate data chaos, confusion, and corruption, presenting it on a unified and user-friendly platform for easy access and analysis.
To implement a CDP, tools like Segment can be utilized to gather all your data, disentangle it, and present it in a way that allows you to obtain the necessary insights and understand how to leverage it effectively.
Customer Experience (CX)
CX (Customer Experience) encompasses every interaction that your audience has with your company throughout the entire customer journey, regardless of whether it leads to a purchase or conversion. This includes the initial exposure to your advertisements, engagement with sales representatives, interactions with support teams, the first ordering experience, initial usage of your product or service, and many other possibilities.
According to a Zendesk survey conducted in 2022, more than half (56 percent) of enterprise companies have identified the improvement of customer experiences as their top business priority for the upcoming year.
The reasons behind this emphasis on delivering exceptional customer experiences are clear. The benefits include:
- Improved customer retention
- Increased customer lifetime value (LTV)
- Stronger brand loyalty
- Better brand reputability
Digital Experience (DX)
DX (Digital Experience), also referred to as digital user experience (digital UX), encompasses the experience a user has while engaging with a company or brand through digital channels or in a digital environment.
In simple terms, DX refers to the user's experience when interacting with your company using one or more digital technologies. Technology itself does not solely drive DX; rather, it depends on how your team utilizes these technologies to enhance customer experiences. The tools and technologies that provide DX touchpoints serve as instruments within a larger strategy. The key to achieving DX success lies in understanding how to effectively utilize these tools.
Ultimately, DX encompasses everything that your audiences see and experience across various digital channels and interaction points, including your website, social media channels, digital communications, and applications, among others. Digital channels not only cater to customers' preferences but also offer opportunities for more efficient, relevant, and effective customer engagement compared to in-person interactions. These digital experiences can be tailored globally, considering factors such as location, language, and the specific needs of diverse stakeholder audiences.
Digital Experience Platform (DXP)
A Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is an integrated collection of core technologies that support the creation, management, delivery, and optimization of personalized and contextually relevant digital experiences.
While websites are a crucial element, they are just one part of a comprehensive DXP. A DXP may also include other components such as ecommerce platforms, mobile applications, authentication tools, content management systems, analytics, and digital asset management systems. By utilizing a DXP, you can effectively create, manage, deliver, and optimize your digital experiences across multiple channels from a single platform.
Bringing together these diverse tools can be challenging for development teams, especially when involving various stakeholders such as marketing, leadership, IT, and even customers who provide valuable feedback. When building a DXP, we combine our expertise, cutting-edge technology, and data to ensure that your tools are easily accessible, user-friendly, and tailored to your specific requirements. Our goal is to provide your users with the best possible experience while minimizing the burden on your staff as they integrate and manage your digital channels. Additionally, we strive to position your digital properties for continuous improvement and optimization, enabling you to enhance your capabilities and maximize your impact across all digital channels as your organization grows.
Digital at Scale
A digital platform (built on a foundation of process, best-of-breed technologies, and strategy) that’s able to efficiently and continually meet the constantly evolving and growing demands of an organization and its customers, in order to best position the organization for future digital success.
Optimizing the digital experiences you provide those you serve is critical to meeting your company’s goals -- this year, next year, and beyond. Digital at Scale means making sure your DXP, and the processes that drive it, empowers your teams to continually meet these goals by regularly eliminating inefficiencies and empowering new capabilities.
Many understand scale as a linear concept, but there are multiple dimensions to Digital at Scale that organizations need to take into consideration as part of a successful digital strategy:
Scaling across your organization
- The ability for your digital experience platform and practice to meet the needs of different stakeholders (business units, teams, sites) across your organization -- helping them work toward a common direction, align, and rise to new levels.
- The ability for your DXP and DX practice to meet the demands of your customers and other key external audiences -- that is greater than the normal, baseline experience. Constantly increase engagement by expanding the impact and channels serving customer experience through digital.
Scaling to the future
- Encompassing your potential business and consumer needs, Scaling to the future is the ability for your DXP and DX practice to meet the demands of your business and overall industry as it grows. This helps you stay ahead of the curve, not just for your business but of the market and larger digital ecosystem.
Finally, achieving Digital at Scale is not easy. In fact, according to Gartner, only 40% of enterprise level companies who attempt to achieve scale are successful. Failing to achieve digital scale is not a result of lack of monetary investment or technical tools. Rather, failure is often caused by neglecting to build a practice that will keep your digital platform growing, and allowing your teams to continue to meet the needs of internal stakeholders and external audiences; creating systems that enable teams across your organization to move forward together.
Digital Technology Stack
Technical Definition: The digital technology stack refers to the set of software technologies utilized by an organization and its team to support digital objectives. This includes various solutions for content management, analytics, ecommerce, experience optimization, and other related capabilities. FFW focuses on digital and web technology stacks in their work.
Practical Definition: Your Digital Technology Stack encompasses the collection of tools that form the foundation of your web experience. It typically includes essential components such as a content management system (CMS), ecommerce tools, user login functionality, analytics platforms, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, digital asset management (DAM) tools, and hosting platforms. The interconnected nature of these tools allows for flexibility and easier replacement of individual components as needed, similar to changing tires or upgrading a sound system in a car, without having to rebuild the entire website from scratch.
Technical Definition: A headless content management system (CMS) is a CMS where the content library, also known as the "body," is decoupled from the presentation layer, known as the "head." Content editors use the headless CMS to create and manage content, and the CMS provides an application programming interface (API) that allows other applications to utilize and display the content.
Practical Definition: In a traditional CMS, the frontend and backend are tightly connected, with the frontend responsible for displaying the content to visitors. In a headless CMS, the frontend is separated from the backend, giving you the flexibility to create different types of "heads" for displaying the content, such as websites, mobile applications, digital billboards, voice assistants like Alexa, and more. This allows you to publish content across various digital channels.
In a headless architecture, the presentation layer, including menus, page content, and user interactions, is rendered independently from the CMS. For websites, this is often achieved using frameworks like React or Vue.js, which run in the browser. This separation allows the frontend and backend to focus on their respective tasks. The backend handles business logic and data retrieval, while the frontend focuses on delivering an optimized user experience.
Replacing the CMS foundation or components on which the site is built. For instance, switching from a WordPress site to Drupal.
However, we use this term a little more broadly so that it essentially means substantial rebuilding efforts to your website. A web replatform project is not necessarily about a redesign, it’s more about positioning your website, app and entire digital presence to succeed in the context of ever-changing business landscapes, growth strategies, and user team and audience needs.
Examples of Reasons for Replatforming
- Your business is suffering from eCommerce tech stack bloat – It makes sense to migrate to a new and better platform that can help you simplify your processes and achieve your goals faster and easier.
- The platform you are currently using requires constant upgrades and maintenance, causing disruption and wasted resources.
- There are particular features that are new and necessary to satisfy ever-evolving consumer expectations and deliver smoother customer journeys than the current platform is able to supply.
- Your present platform is lagging behind other competitors. Replatforming enables you to future-proof not only your data and architecture but also the overall business.
- Streamline integration with partner brands and affiliates or across departments that use different systems.
- Inability to achieve scalability
- Your current platform is becoming obsolete. Ex: Those who are running their site on Drupal 7
User Experience (UX)
UX, or User Experience, refers to the experiences that individuals have when interacting with a company's digital touchpoints. It involves understanding the needs, desires, behaviors, and context of users in order to create meaningful and satisfying experiences. There are several key factors that influence user experience, including usability, usefulness, credibility, desirability, accessibility, and value.
To deliver optimized digital experiences, UX experts employ various methods such as market and user research, strategy development, product development, and design. Through a holistic approach, they aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of users and their expectations. The ultimate goal of UX research is to fulfill the needs and expectations of the target audience, ensuring that the digital experiences provided are valuable and satisfying.
User Interface (UI)
User Interface (UI) is the point of human-computer interaction and communication in a device. This can include display screens, keyboards, a mouse and the appearance of a desktop. It is also the way through which a user interacts with an application or a website.
Effective UI makes your audiences’ experience easy and intuitive, requiring minimum effort on the user's part to receive the maximum desired outcome.
What is the difference between UX and UI? UI is designed around the intended look and feel of the website or digital channel, while UX spans the entire process of conceptualization, development and delivery.