The name itself, to us, says it all. Monolithic sounds big, heavy, single-minded, and out of date. Which in our minds, is pretty much exactly spot on.
Monolithic means that everything that makes your site run comes under one platform. This is the traditional way of doing things, which may to some sound like a good thing, but we’re here to tell you why it’s not. Technology is forever adapting and moving forward, if we were still relying on the way things were done in the past, we wouldn’t have slimmer laptops and portable phones. Adapting with technology is key to stay relevant and reap the rewards of advancements and utilization that come with new developments in this sector.
Monolithic websites are basically the Nokia 3315, and by that, we don’t mean that you can drop it off a three-story building and it will survive… we instead mean you’re stuck playing 2D, pixelated, black, and white, Snake and Space invader. We know, they’re classics. But let's be honest, we’ve come a long way since then.
Monolithic sites are slow because you’ve got everything working in one place. Often you’re forcing things to do what they’re not intended for and this makes your site bloated and heavy, as it runs both the front and backend together.
Because you’ve got everything tied together, it makes it hard to build upon and change things. So you end up adding and adding, which only results in making it slower and less agile for future adaptation or technology advancements. This also means an agile working method is near impossible to implement because everything has to be connected to each other. It slows down your workflow and slows down the ability for you to adapt as needed and work things out as you go - leaving you sliding down the waterfall, both metaphorically and in workflow.
Monolithic sites are the way of the past, they haven’t progressed a hell of a lot since they were developed either. Although they do make updates every now and then, much like the previous point they’re adding on and adding on, making the existing code more clunky. Because they also require that everyone uses the same tech stack, it often means you’re left with the lowest denominator and stacks. If you were to decouple, you could leverage off the best for purpose instead.
Similar to needing to keep the tech stacks uniform, your developers need to be aware of the whole code base, and everything else, everyone else is doing. You’re not simply working on a portion of a site, you’re instead working on a portion of a site that is connected to their portion of a site. This makes the whole development process just more complex than if you’re working with a decoupled system.
If you have big eCommerce, global ambitions or even a heavy traffic day, monolithic sites make it harder for you to expand in both size of the store, regions and locations as well as expected web traffic. This is because it’s centred around a single stack. And a single stack has its limits, even with all the tricks of the trade.
Having a monolithic platform increases the likelihood for bugs because you’re relying on one system that’s handling a lot of different functions. This means updates require more due diligence and testing, to make sure nothing is broken in the process. It also makes it harder to release updates, often resulting in longer downtimes while releasing, since you have to do everything at once.
Because it’s so connected, even a small frontend change can result in issues with the backend. This can be a real detriment to a workflow and slow down the process as then time will need to be allocated to figuring out how to fix things, rather than just changing them and moving on.
The main reason for a lot of the above is this, the spaghetti code monster. This is basically the tangles of code that monolithic sites create because of the aforementioned adding on. Because everything is together, it tends to get nice and tangled making it harder to adapt, change, experiment and change.
There is of course still a use case for Monolithic sites, however, you need to think about what it is you need it to do, and what your ambitions for the future are. At Story of AMS, we build headless eCommerce solutions with Shopify Plus. If you need some help to figure out if headless would suit your needs as a business, we would be happy to help talk you through the best solution.
You can also check out our upcoming webinar: How to Deliver powerful eCommerce experiences. We will be diving into the basics of Headless eCommerce among other tips for a successful eCommerce environment.