What are microservices and what are their advantages in UX design?

By designing your digital service with a microservice strategy in mind, you can ensure that your product is easy to manage, fault-tolerant, quickly fixed and updated, scalable, and provides a satisfying user experience through a custom-tailored UX. All of this is true, but only if you apply it at the right time and with the right environment to support the adaptation.

 

The purpose of microservcies

What exactly are microservices? Microservices are smaller, independent features that coexist and communicate through APIs (Application programming interfaces (APIs), which together make up the full product or service. In recent years, microservices have become increasingly popular. Many big tech companies, such as Amazon, Uber, and Netflix, have adopted the microservice approach, pushing the industry in this direction for good reason.

You must know when to choose this approach, however, as it can cause significant overhead in development and management if not used properly. Each microservice needs a dedicated team to take care of it and own it.

 

So what are the benefits of microservices?

Microservices are an approach that allows teams to break down complex tasks and products into smaller services that are independently designed, developed, and deployed. By breaking down complicated projects into multiple smaller services, it becomes easier to fix, iterate, or add new features.

Keeping these features independent also increases the fault tolerance of the product, as if something goes wrong – and it inevitably will – one error won’t bring down the entire system. This makes the system easier to maintain and allows developers to quickly find and fix issues without disrupting the entire user base with the much-hated “under construction” sign.

Scalability is another significant benefit of microservices. If the need for a new feature arises, it can be deployed and tested individually, without the need to restructure the entire system. Developers can also adjust the system’s capacity to handle specific requests for the given feature, should the need arise periodically. This results in a more adaptable and responsive system.

By keeping everything separate, the UX can be improved more rapidly. Since each service can be deployed, tested, and iterated independently, UX designers can focus their attention on smaller, specific parts and refine them, rather than trying to improve the entire system as a monolithic product where changes require adjustments to the entire system.

In terms of UX, the most exciting advantage of microservices is that UX designers can create more personalized and custom-tailored solutions for specific contexts and features. Thanks to this, the experience will be more enjoyable and memorable, leading to increased brand appreciation.

Sounds great, right? Well, yes, but since the emergence of microservices, there have been cases where it has placed teams and products in difficult situations, particularly startups at launch. In the long run, the microservice approach can simplify and speed up the overall process, but in the short term, the adoption of this architecture will put a considerable amount of pressure on the company in terms of management and resources.

As mentioned earlier, before adopting microservices, certain aspects of the company and its circumstances must be analyzed before boldly transitioning from a monolithic architecture that still works.

 

Microservices can be the way to reach the next level, or they can be the first nail in the coffin.

Along with the benefits, microservice architecture also introduces new challenges, such as increased complexity in managing the growing number of distributed systems, maintaining overall quality in an ever-diversifying service ecosystem, and monitoring everything separately. Moreover, they will likely need to assign a dedicated owner or owners to take care of each microservice. All of this can put a strain on the company, especially if it is a startup with limited resources.

Almost all microservice success stories are about well-established companies with a monolithic architecture that gradually moved toward the microservice approach. After they started feeling the constraints of the growing complexity of the monolithic system.

Adopting microservices. Source: Ergomania, Design: Adam Dragus

 

The way to do this is to start breaking out features from the monolithic architecture, one by one. This way, you can use the monolithic system as a stable foundation on which microservices can grow and flourish independently. Keep breaking out these features according to your resources, and you will end up with a microservice system without the risk of putting too much initial stress on your management, resources, and team.

But this does not mean that as a startup, you have to forget microservices completely and start building a  hardcore monolithic system. You can prepare yourself for the future straight from the start by modularizing your monolithic foundation. Then, when the time comes, your company will be ready to internalize the microservice architecture.

 

As a startup, prepare for microservices with modularization.

Think of modularization as an intermediary step between monolithic and microservice architecture. As a startup, you will most likely have an MVP (minimum viable product) in mind with limited functionality, but based on this, you can already categorize your features into a few groups. These groups will give you your modules inside the monolith. And these modules will serve as homes for your first microservices.

As the monolithic project progresses, you can turn your already predefined modular teams into smaller pieces to focus on certain microservices, thus forming new teams. Or maybe you can grow your team to satisfy the needs of your new microservice. Plus, you can do all of this according to the tempo of your development.

This way, you can build your monolithic MVP as long as you feel it’s right for your company. The seeds for microservices have already been sown; you can decide when to start watering them.

Think twice before adopting microservices

 

Microservices can be the future for your company as well, if used right. All it takes is some planning.

By using the microservices approach in UX design, we can create a better user experience that is more responsive, manageable, and scalable, tailored to your user’s needs.

Let’s take a look at three examples:

  1. A well-established company comes to us with its monolithic system that is working fine but stands in the way of further and agile development. In this case, Ergomania’s UX professionals dive deep into this architecture, looking for a way to break out some parts of the monolithic system optimally, both for the users and for your company. Meanwhile, all of this, the UX of that specific feature, is redesigned and better tailored according to the user’s needs as well. Once we finish scanning the whole system and prepare the new designs, you will have a clear and prioritized list of what to develop, how to develop it, and when to do so for the best experience both for the users and for you.
  2. A startup asks us to design their MVP so that they can begin their journey, grow their business, and reach their audience. Our UX designers design an informational architecture with modularization in mind, evaluating all features of the project and defining the requirements of the MVP based on user research. So the project starts on the right foot, and when the project arrives at the point where microservices would be really beneficial, everything is ready to switch from the monolithic approach to microservices. We do all this with the least number of drawbacks and avoiding most of the stress that comes with this process.
  3. A company comes to us, but they’re not sure at which stage the project is currently, but they already have certain features and updates in mind. The Ergomania team takes a closer look at all aspects of the product and comes up with a feasible action plan that determines the best approach and how to actually put it into practice. All this according to the current user base and their needs, and in harmony with the business goals.

Microservices are a game-changing idea in software development and in UX design as well, from which the user experience can benefit in many ways. By taking it one step at a time and breaking a complex system into small independent services, we can create more personalized and scalable products with high fault tolerance. Development cycles are short and quick, and deployments are safe. This way, the project remains customizable even in the long run. Performance is measurable precisely, and adaptation to our ever-evolving technological world will remain possible and fast.

If you think this could be key for your company’s next level, contact us today.

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