Summary: In this series, we're going to introduce you to some of the companies we partner with when helping you find the right solution for your retail technology. In our first post, we explained how we choose who we partner with. In this post, we're excited to introduce you to our partners at Netlify.
If Netlify does their job well, you'll never know they're there. Netlify is a cloud-based web development platform. Their goal is to be invisible. They're the backbone, the infrastructure that gets your story in front of your customers.
Netlify’s products help frontend teams with every step of the development process, from building to shipping to scaling their sites. Netlify’s Edge Network provides all the functionality of a Content Delivery Network (CDN), with additional security and capabilities. What’s a content delivery network? To help illustrate, we’re going to get a little analogical and talk about cake. A traditional CDN would be the drivers who deliver the baked goods to all the different shops where you’re going to sell your cake—or who actually take the content you’ve created and get it in front of your customers. Netlify serves that function, but goes a step beyond and acts like the bakery environment, too (the second function). It simplifies the process where your bakers (engineers) combine all the ingredients by also baking the cake (commonly known as DevOps). Here, engineers are the bakers mixing all the ingredients together and Netlify handles the actual process of baking the cakes, packing them up, and delivering them to their final destination.
Another important Netlify capability is Deploy Previews, which make reviewing and QAing web projects much easier. When it comes to architecting sites, best practices often include three different environments: development, user acceptance & testing, and production. In each of these environments, an engineer takes the code they’ve written locally on their machine and executes a "build" that turns the code into something that an end-user can interact with. Netlify abstracts that build layer off of an engineer’s workstation and put it into a scalable cloud environment. This dramatically simplifies the process of reliably getting content to the web because in one step an engineer can upload the code, trust that it will execute the build, and then be immediately available for review or production via just the Deploy Preview URL.
If you're wondering who should consider Netlify, the simple answer is anyone who is responsible for maintaining a web application. Some approaches (like Shogun Frontend or Shopify) handle the functions that Netlify performs (or may even use Netlify in the background!) invisibly, but if your organization is directly responsible for a web app, we’d be hard-pressed to recommend anyone else.
"[Netlify] took something so pedestrian (devops), and turned it into something awesome."
—Jeremy Norberg, President of Assemble
Put simply: reliability, scalability, and worldwide infrastructure. From a reliability perspective, they’ve made it through every Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) they’ve been around without significant outages. Big retailers who have rolled their own infrastructure are rarely able to make that claim. From a scalability perspective—see above. When your site gets slammed with traffic, Netlify is able to scale up their infrastructure to match the demand in near real time, meaning your customer’s experience isn’t degraded under heavy load. Their worldwide infrastructure means that when your customers go to shop on your site, their devices aren’t grabbing something from the other side of the world—there’s a server with your content nearby their physical location, and there’s nothing you have to do to enable that. It just happens.
All of these things combined translate to a better customer experience with reduced development overhead and faster time to market. Netlify also has outstanding review features that make it simple to take screenshots or videos of any trouble areas on your site and open a directly linked ticket with your engineering team that includes the nuts and bolts of that intermittent issue or weird interaction that you’d struggle to describe in words.
We love Netlify because it’s easy to implement and easy to maintain. Their support teams are fantastic, they’re growing like crazy (read: not going anywhere), and their ability to grow and scale to your business needs makes them an outstanding choice for our clients. They’ve also been very responsive to our requests for information, as well as taken our feedback to heart when we’ve run stuck on something. We also love working with them because they believe in what they're doing, and they know they're providing a key process in the marketplace.
If you're considering a headless build or migration we'd love to talk to you.