Explaining the jargon:
A website consists of a front-end and a back-end. Popular platforms like Shopify and Magento provide us with access to both these aspects of the website.
Front-end refers to those parts of the website which are visible to the end-users. Back-end systems can be thought of as those processes that happen in the background when you submit a contact form, create an account, or add something to your Wishlist.
Differentiating beginner and advanced users:
Traditionally, both Shopify and Magento offer front-end and back-end services natively. This is a standardized one-size-fits-all option that is convenient to users who don’t require massive customization, or for those users who don’t wish to spend a huge amount towards web development and maintenance. These users are trading flexibility for convenience.
For power users, Shopify and Magento both offer a headless option - meaning that we can tap into their back-end systems, while developing a front-end system from scratch that is tailored to our specific needs.
In this sense, a headless system can be understood as a web development system where we don’t use the platform’s native front-end systems, and develop our own from scratch. Here, we are trading convenience for flexibility and customizability.
Differentiating between Magento and Shopify:
Between the two platforms, Magento traditionally offers greater flexibility and customizability. However, when we compare Magento and Shopify’s headless options with each other, there isn’t much difference.
As Magento is typically more expensive to maintain (server and expertise costs), Shopify wins the race when it comes to a headless system that is relatively easier to maintain.