Business Benefits of Using Micro Frontends for Mobile
Align your micro frontends development project with your business outcomes.
While certain benefits of micro frontends are universal to any enterprise embracing this development approach, it’s important to align any micro frontend development project with specific outcomes your business is seeking.
When Luca Mezzalira, then a VP of Architecture at DAZN, first sought out a micro frontend approach for his organization, his transformation project was focused on addressing a specific area of need.
“When I started this journey, the problem I had is, how can I scale a single-page application with hundreds of developers distributed in Europe?” Mezzalira explained in a 2020 presentation at QCon. “Unfortunately, I didn’t have an answer. What I thought is, let’s start to look at a successful architecture pattern that allows me to do that.”
Micro frontends business benefits
The alignment of development goals with your micro frontend project will help your organization accelerate and optimize the ROI of this new approach. That said, micro frontend development for mobile can deliver the following business benefits:
Ability to scale development by working in parallel
Large frontends make it difficult—if not impossible—to manage multiple development projects over time. This creates a bottleneck of development projects that must be prioritized over one another. By working in parallel, development teams are able to work simultaneously across multiple projects contained within apps, resulting in faster app updates and development cycles.
Reduced time and resource cost for mobile app development
Remember the scenario we laid out regarding the frontend chat interface? By repeating the use of this single interface multiple times across multiple applications, you’re able to implement new capabilities faster, and with less development labor.
Greater consistency and continuity across application touchpoints
Although your micro frontend is composed of many different moving parts, the shared interfaces and capabilities—along with a seamless frontend design—will actually give your end users greater consistency as they move across digital touch points and modalities than a monolithic frontend. Micro frontend architecture incorporates new changes faster—and keeps your frontend experience responsive to your users’ evolving needs.
Modular apps and responsive features make it easier to customize each user's experience to their specific needs or interests. As new micro journeys are discovered and prioritized, this modular design makes it easy to build out new features and pathways to serve those divergent paths.
Building apps with micro frontends: A cost-benefit analysis
Before your organization can define the business use case for micro frontend development, a cost-benefit analysis is necessary to identify and quantify the costs and benefits relevant to any conversation around development ROI.
While the proportions of this cost-benefit analysis will be case-specific to every organization, the top drivers of, and barriers to, micro frontend development will be familiar to most companies. Emerging research and enterprise surveys regarding micro frontend adoption have identified the following categories as being most influential on enterprise cost-benefit analyses:
- Frontend Growth. The larger and more complex frontends become, the greater their associated maintenance costs. Businesses can also incur increased costs through the inflexibility and scaling difficulties these monoliths create, which can slow down or disrupt revenue-generating activities—and which may require the adoption of additional solutions to supplement these limited capabilities.
- A Large, Inflexible Codebase. As monolithic frontends grow, their dependence on a single codebase becomes a point of friction for developers. These architectures inevitably feature a large and expanding number of dependencies, and working around these dependencies requires more development, testing, and integration time.
With smaller codebases offered by a micro frontend, developers can be more agile and efficient when building out new capabilities and integrating applications. The resulting frontend is much easier to scale and requires less maintenance, reducing ongoing costs while reducing barriers to revenue generation.
- Application Interdependence. In a large, single codebase, monolithic frontends become bloated with applications that are dependent on one another, for better or worse—all too often, worse. A single application malfunction can create a ripple effect of downtime and disruption across all applications within that codebase. Even if you’re fortunate to avoid these disruptions, replacing outdated applications with newer, more valuable solutions requires the equivalent of codebase surgery—and a successful outcome is never guaranteed.
While this interdependence stifles the adoption of newer, better solutions, it can also leave your frontend hitched to costly, inefficient applications that are delivering little value to your organization. This creates an opportunity cost, and an organizational tech debt, that will only grow over time.
- Speed of Delivery. Monolithic frontends inevitably require slower, more time- and resource-intensive updates and integration projects. With a micro frontend, the smaller codebase and application independence accelerates the speed and reliability of application delivery. This streamlined, modular approach eliminates one of the most unpredictable and risky cost considerations of updating frontend monoliths.
- Long-Term Flexibility and Support for New Technologies. Both your business technology needs, and the enterprise technologies available on the market, are certain to change over time. This change can occur rapidly, and in unpredictable ways—and for monolithic frontends, keeping up with this change can be complex and riddled with speed bumps.
Thanks to the smaller codebases and modular microapps making up your applications, adapting to these changes and adopting new technologies is both faster and less labor-intensive for your developers. Changes can be made without any impact to other applications within your frontend, helping your business and its frontend architecture keep pace with up-and-coming innovations.
- Autonomous, Team-Based Development. Large codebases in monolithic frontends often leave development teams with their hands tied. This is because the individual applications within a traditional frontend can’t be worked on or updated without impacting the rest of the codebase.
Instead of putting those development teams through multiple layers of approvals and tedious development projects, these smaller, self-contained microapps give individual teams full ownership of all changes and updates made within their development domain.
- Reduced Maintenance Demands for Frontend Applications. With self-contained microapps and smaller codebases, developers spend less time maintaining your frontend—which frees up time and resources to enhance the capabilities and overall experience your frontend offers your end users.
- Faster, More Reliable Application Testing. Testing is an endless headache in monolithic headframes, which require a test to occur across the entire application—even when the changes being tested are relatively small and simple. While this testing is essential to avoid bigger problems and bugs from being introduced, it creates friction between developers implementing changes and engineering leaders eager to avoid disruptions.
Micro frontend applications alleviate this problem by making it easy to isolate testing to a single self-contained microapp. Even when testing turns up problems, the impact of this issue is limited to that microapp alone, preserving the rest of your frontend.
- Unrivaled Scalability. Development teams can move faster on new projects and capabilities. Modular application design makes it easy to add new features or grow operations by having multiple teams and potentially hundreds of developers working in parallel. Small codebases eliminate the hassle of integrating new capabilities and complexities into an already massive frontend architecture. All of these alleviated pain points pave the way for a fully scalable micro frontend supporting the needs of your organization and your end users.
Who Benefits from Adopting Micro Frontends?
Micro frontends offer long-term cost benefits and performance capabilities that serve many aspects of both your backend operations and your end-user experience. By aligning micro frontend migration with desired business outcomes for the full spectrum of stakeholders directly impacted by this approach, your business can build an even stronger use case and improve ROI forecasts for this new application architecture.
Here’s a look at the central stakeholders and perspectives served by a micro frontend application.
Micro frontend applications are a game-changer for app development teams, which directly benefit from reduced maintenance demands, faster and more efficient development cycles, and reduced complexity when implementing changes.
By creating containers to confine codebases and isolate micro applications from one another, app developers can take a more iterative approach. This enables continuous delivery from developer teams, as well as an emphasis on optimized design and micro journey experiences.
Software engineers are responsible for coordinating the integration of individual microapps within a single user experience. In a monolithic front-end, engineering leaders are tasked with overseeing development teams to make sure development, testing and other processes aren’t causing disruptions across the application—a time-consuming task that takes them away from more value-added responsibilities.
With a micro frontend, engineering leaders can shift their activities away from development team oversight and focus on collaborative processes such as communication across teams and applications, as well as reuse of microapps across the frontend itself. Greater priority and attention can be given to maximizing efficiencies of the micro frontend itself, and to delivering the best user experience possible.
C-suite and other enterprise leaders will directly benefit from the long-term cost savings and efficiencies that micro frontends can create for the IT department. Optimized spending and expense reduction—including maintenance costs and app development costs—will increase ROI over the life of the micro frontend.
Meanwhile, the agile and scalable design of the micro frontend means that frontend design and capabilities won’t become a constraint as the business pursues its growth goals. As leaders plan out and execute their business strategy, they can be confident that their frontend application will be an asset in reaching those goals.
End Users & Customers
Consistent, user-friendly design is a crucial element of successful end user engagement. While the micro frontend breaks this application into many different parts, this modular design enables a composable architecture to deliver a consistent, seamless user experience.
Microapps are capable of delivering a multi-experience user journey that defines and serves the micro journeys taking place within that larger experience. This benefit requires development teams to have a deep understanding of customer journeys and the personas and paths being served by the micro frontend. However, when executed properly, the end result is a far more responsive, engaging, and individualized customer experience.