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Introduction to Digital Experience Frameworks

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In this post, we’ll take a look at what’s meant by the term digital experience framework, or DXF, present some types of DXF, and discuss how to select the correct one(s) to set your business up for success today and in the future. Let’s get started.

First off - what is a digital experience framework (DXF)? 

You’ve no doubt encountered terms such as digital transformation, digital experience, or even the more recently introduced digital experience platform, or DXP for short. What’s this “digital experience framework”, then?

Well, put simply, the term can refer to any kind of digital framework for creating and managing digital experiences. It’s a concept that’s broader than that of a content management system or a programming language, but more narrow than, say, the DXP, which would incorporate various of these frameworks.

The relationship between the three can be roughly represented in the following way: 

What’s important to note here is that certain frameworks (most typically programming languages) can be used to build other frameworks. A great example is PHP, which serves as the foundation of both WordPress and Drupal. Then you also have, of course, the innumerable front-end frameworks which are based on JavaScript, each with their own niche specificities. 

Python, another widely known and utilized programming language, is for example used for developing a wide range of different DXF in addition to its use as a powerful back-end language. The 3D art frameworks Blender and Maya are built in Python, while it is also utilized to power the machine learning capabilities of platforms such as Netflix.

Given the importance of the digital and the amount of time we dedicate to it on a daily basis, the need for compelling digital experiences has never been greater. Add to that our acquired tendency to want everything, everywhere, and it becomes even clearer that having the right tools to craft the right experiences can be an incredible business advantage

Types of DXF

There are numerous types of DXF. While this post will mainly concentrate on DXF utilized in web development and similar spheres, we shouldn’t completely discount mobile and game development frameworks, such as for example Facebook’s React Native or Google’s Flutter, and .NET, C# or the Unity game engine, respectively.

The most common ones for the web are front-end development frameworks, such as Angular or React, and content management systems/frameworks, such as Drupal or WordPress. There are also more specific examples, e.g. e-commerce digital experience frameworks such as the Magento open-source DXF.

In addition to those, you also have various personalization and design tools, but, very often, front-end frameworks can take care of that job. Moreover, Drupal and WordPress can be used for mobile development by going “headless”, or in the form of a PWA (progressive web app); and, for another fun fact, Drupal was also recently used to develop an arcade game.

Which one(s) you choose largely depends on your audience’s needs, but other factors play into this decision, such as the popularity or market share of the framework, etc. 

One thing’s for certain, though: in the current DX landscape, relying on a single DXF to power your digital experiences is not enough - you need several of them to really tailor the experience to individual users and achieve notable business results. 

Choosing the right digital experience framework(s)

This is all very well - but, chances are that you’re now asking yourself “How can I choose the right frameworks for me, then, if there are so many options?”

Well, that largely depends on what your needs are, and how forward-thinking your business is. Since this is a post centered around driving business growth, let’s assume that the general idea is that your business is quite forward-thinking.

What this means is that you’ll need DXF that are well established but future-ready enough as to still be relevant 5 or 10 years down the line when new trends emerge and old ones are abandoned. 

While there are a lot of niche frameworks that have greatly streamlined certain aspects, be that API integrations, excellent preview options for editors, or a great developer experience, most of these are relatively new and as of yet unestablished. 

That’s why we would definitely recommend going with either of the two giants in the content management space - WordPress and Drupal - as your foundational DXF.

WordPress and Drupal can both be used for channels other than just the website, or even just the web - the headless capabilities both of them offer through their API extendability make them viable contenders in the multichannel digital sphere. This becomes especially relevant as we’re embracing IoT (the Internet of Things) more and more.

Namely, WordPress’s REST API and Drupal’s REST, JSON and GraphQL APIs make them solid candidates for any kind of digital experience - especially when coupled with a powerful frontend framework such as Angular, resulting in a decoupled” CMS, where the presentation layer is separate from the data (a concept similar to “headless”). 

Another thing to note: the magic of digital experience frameworks is that they can be easily integrated with different ones in order to achieve additional functionality. 

For example, a content management system such as Drupal can be combined with one or more front-end frameworks to achieve the best of both worlds, receiving structure and stability with the CMS and spice with the framework such as Angular.  In fact, it could even be combined with a second back-end framework such as the e-commerce DXF Magento.

This means that you’ll rarely be using just a single framework; much more often, you’ll rely on a base one, then leverage others to add additional functionality and spice up the user experience.

Why we chose what we chose

As a predominantly web development company, we mainly work with 3 digital experience frameworks at Agiledrop:

We’ve been working with Drupal for a number of years, ever since our company’s inception; as a robust and highly customizable framework, it’s ideal both for our own website(s) and the services we offer to our clients. Drupal is the framework of choice for many enterprise digital platforms which require a more complex system and strict adherence to industry standards.

However, most SMBs (small-to-medium businesses) also want to profit from these same features, but without needing an architecture as complex as that of a Drupal website or application. This is where the WordPress CMS comes into play.

By following the same enterprise practices in WordPress, with custom development and high-end QA, we’re able to offer our clients the simplicity they lack with Drupal, while maintaining the level of quality that they desire and deserve.

Finally, the most important piece of the puzzle here is the front-end framework Angular. By 2020, it’s become pretty obvious that powerful front-end frameworks are vital to crafting great digital experiences, and any renowned brand that strives for a good customer experience should have one or more of these in their arsenal.

Having worked with some of the most notable ones (namely, React, Vue and Angular), we were the most impressed by Angular: it was the one that managed to perfectly merge good development standards with capability, with stellar performance on top of that, even more so thanks to the recently released Ivy renderer shipped with Angular 9. 

It became no doubt that Angular was to be the front-end framework of choice for Agiledrop. We’ve even recently revamped our internal tools with Angular, greatly facilitating the daily tasks of our project and office managers thanks to the smooth interactive dashboards built with the framework.

Conclusion

A key takeaway here is to stop thinking in terms of content management and web development, and instead transition to viewing both of these as aspects of digital experience management.

So, when deciding for a technology that will drive your digital experience, think bigger than just the CMS - think in the context of the digital experience framework, and how to select the framework(s) that will help your business grow.

Because - your success of tomorrow greatly depends on the choices you make today. And, by choosing the right suite of digital experience frameworks for your services, you’ll guarantee future relevance as well as position yourself as an industry leader who is simultaneously on top of today’s advancements and future ready.

If you’d like to know more about how Agiledrop can help you craft amazing digital experiences with our extensive expertise in the just discussed DXF, give us a shout out and we’ll provide the perfect team for and solution to your needs. 

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