In case you missed Ernie’s article last week, we recently re-launched our website to use our own Atama Composer platform. It was amazing how quickly the site came together. Plus, it was fun to “eat our own dog food” and take Composer Studio for a spin. I’ve been creating websites for 15+ years but “composing” one from existing parts was a new experience for me. It was the fastest re-platform or “lift and shift” project I’ve ever done.
What is composition?
Before we get into the details, let me explain what I mean by “composing” a website. Traditionally, websites were authored in content management systems that control everything. You write your web content, upload your assets, publish everything, and the CMS renders the final site. All from a single system. Over the last few years, the industry moved towards a headless and composable approach that allows marketers to use best-of-breed solutions for each category (commerce, content, assets, search, etc.) and across all channels (web, email, mobile, etc.). This approach is great, but you potentially end up with lots of smaller building blocks provided by separate services. In order to create engaging and consistent customer experiences, you need to put these building blocks back together or “compose” them. That’s exactly what Composer Studio helps you do in a user-friendly and future-proof way.
After our little detour, let’s get back to the Atama site re-platform. The effort involved can be grouped into a few buckets:
Content – How did we get content into Atama?
Code & Config – What development was needed?
Composition – What did it take to assemble the new site?
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Usually, re-platform projects require lengthy migration or re-authoring efforts. Fortunately for us, I could re-use all existing content from our old static site as-is. We avoided any complexity because:
a) Composer Core can connect to any type of existing source content, and
b) we used a headless CMS (Contentful) to store the content so it didn’t have any complexity around vendor-specific formats.
Code & Config
On the development side, it only took a couple of changes to connect the existing codebase to Atama:
First, I switched out the Contentful dependency with the Atama one so that Next.js can fetch the latest composed experiences from Atama.
Second, all the React components needed a small two-line change so they can render correctly within the Composer Studio preview.
After the code updates were done, I could register and map the components through the Composer Studio interface. That was it, no major refactoring required.
Lastly, I needed to re-assemble the website in Composer Studio. For this step, I created experiences (pages) in Atama and added components to them. Then I selected the existing content from Contentful to fill the component’s placeholders with real content.
When I started actually composing pages, it reminded me of the mise en place process in cooking. All the necessary elements for the site were already in place. At that point, all it took was to combine the ingredients into a delicious website.
Instead of getting the dreaded writer's block while creating individual pages, I could simply piece together the already laid-out content and components.
It took less than 3 days of work to migrate our site to a composable platform. Granted, atama.co is not a huge site, but it shows the agility of a composable architecture with an integrated visual composition UI. Plus, we now have the tools that will allow us to evolve.
Composer Studio - fast, intuitive experience composition that is agnostic of source content system
Composer Core - composable foundation that we can over time add business capabilities to, like personalization, search, and commerce
Composer Lens - get a real-time view of our composable architecture. We get the insights that help us make informed business decisions based on performance, utilization, and cost as we grow.
Do you have a similar project on the horizon and don’t know how to tackle it? Join our beta waitlist, and we’re happy to chat with you to see how Atama Composer can help.