Skip to content

JAMStack for e-Commerce: A Powerful Alternative to PWA

In recent years, two new and exciting methods have become popular in web development: JAMStack and Progressive Web Apps (PWA).

Both of these methodologies offer unique advantages for building modern web applications, and they have been particularly influential in the areas of custom e-commerce web development.

However, there is an emerging trend that suggests JAMStack might be a powerful alternative to PWAs in the e-commerce space.

In this article, we will delve into the peculiarities of both approaches, explore the strengths of JAMStack, and learn why it’s becoming a worthy alternative to PWAs for e-commerce platforms.

What Are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) represent an approach to web development that combines the best of two worlds — regular websites and native mobile applications.

PWAs offer users a smooth, fast, and engaging experience, regardless of the device they are using or the quality of the Internet connection they have.

Here are the key characteristics and components that define Progressive Web Apps:

  1. Responsive Design: PWAs use responsive design principles. It means that they adjust and look nice on different devices, such as desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
  2. App-Like Experience: PWAs provide an app-like experience to users. This includes features such as smooth animations, gestures, and user interactions that resemble those of native mobile applications.
  3. Offline Access: One of the most incredible features of PWAs is their ability to work offline or in low network conditions. This is achieved through service workers that run in the background and can cache resources like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  4. Installation and Home Screen Access: PWA can be installed on the user’s device like regular apps. When a user frequently visits a PWA, they’ll be asked to add it to their home screen without downloading and installing the app from the app store.
  5. Fast Load Times: PWAs can quickly load, reducing the waiting time for users. This becomes possible due to using techniques such as caching, optimizing resources, and preloading content.
  6. Push Notifications: Just like native apps, PWAs can send push notifications to users’ devices, helping businesses interact with users even when they’re inertly using the app.
  7. Security: PWAs are served over HTTPS by default, providing a secure connection and protecting user data.
  8. Ability to be found: PWAs can be easily found by search engines, which makes them accessible through web searches. This improves their visibility and accessibility to users.
  9. No App Store Dependency: In contrast to regular mobile apps, PWAs bypass the app store submission process, which can frequently consume time and be subject to approval.
  10. Cross-Browser Compatibility: PWAs are created to function across different web browsers, providing that users can access the app regardless of their preferred browser.

What is JAMStack?

JAMstack stands for JavaScript, APIs, and Markup and represents a modern web development architecture.

It’s a method that separates the front-end and back-end of web apps for better speed, safety, and developer experience.

Here’s a list of the key components and principles of JAMStack:

  1. JavaScript: JavaScript serves as the primary programming language for building dynamic interactions on the client side. It’s responsible for handling user interactions, making real-time updates, and creating a responsive user interface.
  2. APIs (Application Programming Interfaces): APIs provide the backend functionality. Rather than generating content on the server and sending it to the client, APIs are used to retrieve data from databases or external services. This separation allows for greater flexibility and scalability.
  3. Markup: Markup refers to the HTML files that are pre-built during the build process. These files encompass the content and structure of the website. Because they are pre-rendered, they can be served directly from a content delivery network (CDN), improving load times.

Key principles of JAMStack architecture include:

  1. Pre-rendering: JAMStack focuses on making static files (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) before users ask for them. These files are then given to users, making things faster by avoiding lots of work on the server.
  2. CDNs (Content Delivery Networks): JAMStack sites use CDNs to put their content on servers all over the world. This makes things faster because users get content from a nearby server without delays.
  3. Microservices: JAMStack promotes using microservices, where different parts of an application are split into smaller, manageable services. This allows web developers to use specialized tools for each task and easily replace or upgrade components without disrupting the entire application.
  4. Scalability: By separating front-end and back-end components, JAMStack makes it easier to scale different parts of a website. This is particularly valuable for websites that have varying levels of traffic and demand.
  5. Security: With reduced server-side processing and a focus on pre-rendered content, JAMStack improves security by minimizing the attack surface and reducing exposure to common server-side issues.
  6. Developer Experience: JAMStack architecture simplifies development and collaboration by letting front-end and back-end developers work alone. This separation of concerns also simplifies version control, testing, and debugging.

Differences between JAMStack and PWA

While both JAMStack and PWAs aim to improve the user experience, they approach this goal from different angles. Let’s explore the key differences between these two approaches:

Differences between JAMStack and PWA

Architecture and Execution

PWAs focus on creating app-like experiences within web browsers. They rely on service workers to cache resources and promote offline access.

On the other hand, JAMStack architecture is centered around the separation of concerns, with decoupled front-end and back-end functionalities. This separation allows for better scalability, faster loading times, and better security.

Offline Access

PWAs excel in providing offline access through service workers. Users can continue interacting with the app without an active Internet connection.

In contrast, JAMStack websites can also offer limited offline capabilities by pre-rendering content, but the dynamic functionalities may be restricted when offline.

Development Complexity

PWAs often require more complex development due to handling different device types, network conditions, and caching strategies.

JAMStack development is easier due to using static site generation and APIs for dynamic functionalities. This leads to cleaner codebases, easier maintenance, and faster development cycles.

Dynamic vs. Static

PWAs involve dynamic elements that are processed on the client side using JavaScript.

JAMStack, on the other hand, focuses on creating static content whenever possible, minimizing the need for client-side processing and improving performance.

Data Security

JAMStack architecture provides better security by reducing the attack surface and minimizing the need for traditional server-side vulnerabilities.

PWAs rely on a mix of client-side and server-side code, potentially increasing the attack surface.

Benefits of JAMStack for e-Commerce

The JAMStack approach offers several advantages that make it an attractive option, particularly for e-commerce platforms: