Weaverse Weekly #4: Headless is almost never about loading speed.
Jan 29, 2024
By Paul Phan5 mins read
Weaverse Weekly #4: Headless is almost never about loading speed.

Hello hello friends of Weaverse, how are you doing?

One day left until Shopify Winter Edition 2024 - what’s your bet?

If we go by previous editors, then my best guess would be:

Since I’ll be spamming your LinkedIn feed once the Winter 2024 edition drops, I’ll keep this newsletter short and to the point :) Let’s go.

The Best Writing About Headless, WebDev, and Everything In Between

In the same way, Leo Tolstoy said “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, I said, “All good headless builds are alike, each bad headless build is bad in its own way”.

It’s true, there are almost as many ways you can f*ck up your headless implementation as how you implement headless correctly. This is why learning - not just about headless, but web dev in general - is important, and here is what I read this week:

Headless Commerce is not about loading speed. It’s about speed of action

A lot of people I talked to think headless commerce is all about making websites slightly faster. Studies beg to differ - and what is less obvious here, and what most of us don’t see, is this:

Speed prompts actions.

Google understood this best - as they famously prioritized speed in their product development. Here’s how James Somers - NYT writer put it in an article about Google history:

“They realized that if search is fast, you’re more likely to search. The reason is that it encourages you to try stuff, get feedback, and try again. When a thought occurs to you, you know Google is already there. There is no delay between thought and action, no opportunity to lose the impulse to find something out.”

If slow page load times are a big blocker, then fast page load times act like propellant.

In Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow”, we learn that the human mind operates in two modes: "System 1" (fast thinking) and "System 2" (slow thinking). System 1 is responsible for quick, intuitive decisions and responses, while System 2 engages in more deliberate and analytical thinking processes. When a user visits your website, their initial impression is influenced by the website's loading speed. A fast-loading site aligns with the efficiency and speed of System 1 thinking. It eliminates delays and friction, enabling users to access the information or products they seek swiftly.

They act faster. They buy faster.

On the other hand, System 2 corresponds to slow, deliberate thinking. In the context of slow website loading times, users are forced into a slower cognitive mode. When a website lags or takes an extended period to load, it disrupts the user's flow and patience. In this state, users are more likely to engage in contemplation, questioning whether they should wait for the site to load or abandon it altogether. The longer the delay, the deeper users descend into System 2 thinking, where they weigh the costs and benefits of continuing their browsing.

They leave.

A quick summary from ReadingGraphics

Speed changes the way users behave. Nelson Elhage put it best (tho he was talking about software - the implications apply to eCommerce).

“What is perhaps less apparent is that having faster tools changes how users use a tool or perform a task. Users almost always have multiple strategies available to pursue a goal (purchasing a product) — including deciding to work on something else entirely (switching to other stores) — and they will choose to use faster tools more and more frequently (how many stores selling the same things as you do). Fast tools don’t just allow users to accomplish tasks faster; they allow users to accomplish entirely new types of tasks, in entirely new ways.

Now when you see web dev optimization through the lens of action speed - how fast you can get shoppers from point A to point B - you see headless and web dev in a radically new way.

Take the most fundamental thing: Site designs.

No matter how good your site design is, there’s always a gap between digital representation and real-life products. Shoppers inevitably question how your products look like in real life. So they take their time - to find the video, to read the review, to imagine. How do you increase the speed of action here? You let shoppers see your product in 3D, interact with it, and even try it on virtually, all without leaving your product page.

Another example is Social Selling. You have a viral video on TikTok or Instagram and viewers flock to your store. However, between app switching and multiple clicks of tabs, they find their enthusiasm dwindled by the time they got to your product page. Let alone the fact that most social media apps now want to monopolize their traffic with zero-click content. They don’t want to drive traffic back to your storefronts. The course of action from when they’re interested in your product, to when they’re ready to buy, would take a millennia.

Your best strategy for faster speed of action? Convert them where they are. Omni-channel and seamless synchronization between all platforms. You want to grab people's attention wherever they are, whenever they want.

And of course, the best way (not the only way) to achieve all of these eCom wonders, to bring in this unified, frictionless shopping experience is Headless Commerce.

It’s expensive, I agree. But so was AI assistant. In 2020, if you wanted something like ChatGPT, you had to pay around $100/month for it. Now it’s just $20/month and way more powerful. And so were computers and solar panels and cars. Technological progress almost always brings broadened access and cheaper prices.

The story with Shopify headless commerce is the same, I believe. You need to pay attention to people who will make it happen.


P/s: Yep I’m bullish, you might already know it. Hope keeps us alive.