This is a continuation of a series of blogs about how Dell IT is Cracking the Code for a World-class Developer Experience.
Helping developers work smarter and faster with a sharable, building-block approach to creating consistent webpage experiences is central to Dell Digital’s modern, customer-centered design focus. And now developers have a central place to access those building blocks. It’s called the User Experience (UX) Marketplace, a repository of micro frontends (MFEs) and webpage components that can be leveraged by frontend developers to build their user interface experiences.
Dell Digital, Dell Technologies IT organization, launched the UX Marketplace seven months ago to further our efforts to improve our developer experience as well to create a unified customer experience across our digital ecosystem. We now have more than 100 developers utilizing the platform, which has hundreds of components and MFEs so far.
Rather than having to design the same webpage features over and over from scratch, UX developers can now leverage marketplace components and MFEs to gain speed and efficiency. Sharing common design components also ensures webpage design will have a more consistent look and feel.
A platform for sharing
The idea that developers should share UX code began with one business group’s move to change its approach to building on-line customer experiences. Dell Digital’s Global eCommerce adopted an MFE approach to building webpage features to address the fact that its developers were having to build the same page elements over and over again. It also wanted to create a unified look and feel to its experiences by sharing uniform UX components, smaller building blocks that could be plugged into a page.
Around the same time that architecture approach was gaining ground, Dell Digital decided to create a central repository where all UX developers could easily catalog and access MFEs and smaller UX components used to create MFEs. The broader focus was to create a centralized clearinghouse to help deliver a consistent experience leveraging Dell Design System standards across the lifecycle of our customer interaction for all of Dell Technologies.
About a year ago, I headed up a small team charged with realizing that goal. The first step in creating the marketplace was to explore options to set up a platform that would meet our needs. We found that a third-party Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tool offered the features we needed without going through the time and effort to build our own platform tools. We did a proof-of-concept using the vendor platform last spring, working with developers and user communities to get their feedback and add needed features.
Initially, the platform supported only one technology stack commonly used by UX developers. After talking to the Dell development community, however, we found there were multiple technologies they were using and arranged for the vendor to expand support to be more inclusive. Ultimately, we have evolved the platform to support four technology stacks and five testing tools.
We launched the full UX Marketplace for Dell Digital in early August and continue to gain users as well as positive feedback.
Delivers results for developers and users
In terms of developer experience, sharing components via the marketplace empowers them to develop and release features faster and in a consistent way. They can publish and access components such as buttons, product cards, product lists, sign-on elements, check out processes and other UX features applicable across many digital experiences.
Developers had been really frustrated with having to write seemingly a million lines of code over and over again, figuring out details and doing the testing. With readily available components in a single catalog, they can now develop and deliver UX pages in about one quarter the time it took previously. They can put their efforts into more innovative feature development.
The marketplace is part of Dell Digital’s effort to expand the adoption of MFE’s in creating and maintaining webpages, which allows developers to deploy changes to pages without having to take the page offline for a substantial amount of time, as was previously required. The MFE architecture means that whole page is not just owned by one team anymore, you have four or five experiences sitting on the same page.
When a developer is going to make a change to an experience, they can make the change while the page is still running. Page changes are not tied to the whole page and can be deployed in seconds. And it’s not visible to the customer, making webpage changes a very smooth process.
Another feature of the marketplace is that it provides data to developers and designers on who is consuming their components, creating a more collaborative communication channel between them on how best to serve UX component needs.
And finally, our marketplace content has the consistent look, feel and standards set by the Dell Design System 2.0, Dell’s evolving design language system which contains the core design and code components that our company uses to build our digital experiences.
Evolving the Marketplace
We are working to further the adoption of the marketplace across Dell Digital and beyond, offering weekly education session on various aspects of its use and reaching out to business organizations. We currently have more than a dozen organizations outside of Dell Digital that have expressed interest in the marketplace, which offers value to any group that provides digital experiences.
We are also in the process of building a governance framework, looking into the industry best practices and standards we need to leverage to ensure good quality components hosted in the marketplace.
To learn more about Dell Digital’s efforts to improve our digital ecosystem design, check out Tonya Browning’s recent blog, Transforming Dell’s Digital Spaces to Better Serve Humans.
Keep learning: Our session “Optimizing the Developer Experience with an Automated Multi-Cloud and DevOps Approach” at Dell Technologies World 2022 will go into depth on how we’re transforming our developer experience inside Dell IT. Join us to meet Dell’s IT practitioners, learn our best practices and ask us all your questions. Register now.