What is composable architecture?

By Max Ikaheimo

August 2nd, 2023

Composable web architecture is a modern approach to building web applications, emphasizing modular design and high reusability. 

This methodology borrows the concept of "composability" from software engineering, where complex systems are designed as compositions of simpler, self-contained parts, often referred to as components.

This pattern has been gaining popularity recently as businesses strive to reduce the time needed to develop and deploy new applications.

In a composable enterprise architecture, each component –whether it's a user interface element, a piece of business logic, or a data service,  is a self-contained unit that can be easily assembled and configured to meet the specific needs of each business. 

This makes it easy to scale and maintain large applications and add new features and functionality. 

But what’s all the fuzz about composability, and how does it translate to business gains? Let’s find out!

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What is composability?

In web architecture, composable infrastructure means designing a digital experience as a collection of reusable components that can be easily assembled, rearranged, or replaced. This can apply to all web application layers, from content management to user interface, business logic, and data storage.

For instance, a user interface can be broken into individual components like headers, footers, navigation bars, or form elements. Each component can be developed independently, reused across different pages or applications, and updated without disrupting the entire application.

Similarly, on the server side, a modular approach might involve microservices and cloud services, where different aspects of the application (like user authentication, data processing, or payment processing) are handled by separate, independent services.

Composability rests on the following principles:

  • Composition: The act of combining smaller parts to create a larger whole

  • Reusability: The ability to use a component in multiple applications

  • Modularity: The ability to break down a system into smaller, independent modules

  • Loose coupling: The ability to connect components without tightly coupling them together

  • Orchestration: The way that components communicate with each other

Some companies and vendors call this approach “MACH architecture” (Microservices, APIs, Composability, and Headless). Still, since MACH is largely a business term popularized by the MACH Alliance, we’ll remain agnostic throughout this article.

The anatomy of a composable website 

For example, digital experiences based on composable commerce is composed of the following components:

Headless CMS

A headless CMS or a digital experience platform (DXP) can be used for managing the product catalog. This CMS or composable DXP would provide a user-friendly interface for non-technical staff to add, update, or remove products. As it's "headless," it doesn't dictate how the data is presented so that the same product information can be used in various contexts - web, mobile, in-store displays, etc.

We recommend you use:

Frontend framework

A modern front-end framework like Next.js or React can be used to build the shopping cart and checkout components. These frameworks promote a component-based architecture, which aligns well with the composable approach. 

We recommend you use:

Product information manager

This component would display the products available for sale in the retail store. The component would need to be able to retrieve product data from a database or other data source. It requires to display the product data in a way that is easy for users to understand and interact with.

We recommend you use:

Shopping cart 

This component would track the products the user has added to their shopping cart. The component would need to add and remove products from the cart and calculate the cart's total price.

We recommend you use:

  • Snipcart

  • Medusa

  • Saleor

Payment gateway

This component would be responsible for processing the user's payment and sending the funds to the retail store. The component must communicate with a payment gateway like Stripe or PayPal.

We recommend you use:

  • Stripe

  • PayPal

  • ChargeBee

  • Klarna

Our technologies: A look into our tech stack

Why should businesses go composable?

  • Agility and speed to market: Composable architecture breaks down complex applications into manageable, independent components. This allows development teams to work on different components concurrently, speeding up the development process. Components can be tested and deployed independently, enabling rapid iterations and continuous improvements. As businesses face pressure to innovate and launch new features faster, composable web architecture provides the agility necessary to stay competitive.

  • Scalability: Scalability is a significant advantage of composable architecture. Since components are independent, they can be scaled individually based on demand. For example, during peak traffic, the product catalog component of an e-commerce site can be scaled up without having to scale the entire application. This ability to scale parts of the application as needed makes it easier to manage resources and maintain performance even as the application grows and user demand changes.

  • Independence: In a composable architecture, components are designed to be independent, meaning that updates or changes to one component do not impact others. This isolation reduces the risk of changes causing unexpected problems elsewhere in the application. It also makes it easier to update or replace components to use newer technologies, respond to changing business requirements, or fix issues, promoting continuous innovation and reducing maintenance costs.

  • Cost efficiency: Components in a composable architecture are designed to be reusable, which means they can be shared across different parts of the same application or even across different applications. This reusability reduces duplication and makes developing and maintaining applications more efficient. Also, with the ability to replace or update individual components, businesses can avoid the high costs of complete application rewrites or migrations, leading to significant cost savings in the long term.

  • Create more engaging user experiences: By breaking down applications into smaller, more modular components, composable web architecture makes creating user experiences tailored to specific needs and preferences easier.

  • Improve operational efficiency: By making adding new features and functionality easier, composable web architecture can help businesses improve their operational efficiency and reduce the time it takes to bring new products and services to market.

  • Gain a competitive advantage: By adopting composable web architecture, businesses can gain a competitive advantage by delivering more innovative and responsive applications to their customers.

Build a composable digital experience
with Ikius

Exceed expectations: Embrace new web architectures and adopt the latest tools.

Grow your business: We work with most of the top headless and composable vendors to give you a competitive edge.

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How to implement the composable architecture

1. Break down your application into smaller components

The first step is to identify the different functional aspects of your application and break it down into smaller, manageable, independent components. This could be based on different aspects of the user interface, different parts of the business logic, or different data services.

For example, in a retail web application, you might have components for product display, shopping cart, user authentication, payment processing, etc. Each of these components should have a well-defined purpose and should be able to function independently of the others.

2. Use a composable framework or platform

The choice of technology can greatly aid in implementing a composable web architecture. Front-end frameworks and libraries like React, Vue.js, or Next.js promote a component-based architecture and can be extremely useful. Consider using microservices architecture on the back end, where each service corresponds to a component and can be independently developed and deployed. Platforms like AWS, Netlify, or Vercel offer great support for deploying microservices.

3. Use APIs to connect your components

Once your components are defined, they need to communicate and interact with each other. This is usually achieved using an API (Application Programming Interface). An API defines a set of rules for how components interact, allowing them to remain independent while working together to form a complete application. For example, your product display component might provide an API for the shopping cart component to fetch product details. Or your payment processing component might use an API management system provided by a third-party payment gateway to process payments.

5. Continuous testing and iteration

A key advantage of a composable architecture is the ability to develop and update components independently. This requires a strong focus on testing to ensure that changes to one component do not inadvertently affect others. Automated testing and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) practices can greatly assist in this regard.

Ikius and composability


Our dedicated development team worked with Teleport's marketing team to develop their enterprise website with Next.js. Our consultants integrated seamlessly with Teleport's team, enabling efficient collaboration between Ikius and Teleport.

Teleport: Web development for an IT infrastructure access platform

Brightway Careers

We developed a modern website for Brightway to help them manage multiple locales and to optimize their front-end performance.

The multilingual site features a fully customizable page structure with modular components and content for each locale. The content is managed with Sanity - an excellent Headless CMS for Brightway's use case.

Brightway Careers: Website development for a staffing agency

Closing thoughts

Finally, remember that moving to a composable web architecture is a journey. It's perfectly fine to start small, by breaking a monolithic solution into a few key components, and gradually increasing the level of composability as you gain more experience and confidence.

Of course, we all need a little help sometimes, and that's okay. If you're new to this, navigating alone might be daunting. That's where we come in. Ikius is a web development agency with a Nordic touch, and we have plenty of experience working with web architecture implementation. We can guide you through the process and tailor the approach to suit your unique needs.

Overall, composable web architecture isn't just a trend—it's a tool to build your business's nimble, efficient, and agile future. So, if you're ready to leap into the future, give it a shot and let Ikius be your trusty guide. Remember, investing in composable web architecture is like investing in a smooth sail through the waves of the digital sea. Let's embrace the adventure together!

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