This article explores when it’s appropriate to use web components offered by a UI component library while also keeping timeframe and quality in mind. But first, let’s dive into the structure of web components and discuss what products can benefit from the use of a UI component library.
UI component library: Understanding the web components standards
Web components let you create websites regardless of the coding environment. In other words, web components are reusable code that you can plug into most environments (or development platforms).
Let’s look at the web components standard, which sets general rules for web components that are natively supported by browsers.
Custom elements are the main technology behind the web components that make up any web components library. They allow you to extend the initially-limited capabilities of HTML. As the demand for more advanced solutions grows, out-of-the-box HTML capabilities are just not enough. Custom elements teach the browser how to accurately interpret new behaviors on the page. As an example, let’s say you need to add a unique form because an inbuilt HTML form doesn’t match your requirements. This is where custom elements come into play, letting you craft a form that will look like a native form in HTML, but will meet your unique business needs.
Shadow DOM is another technology behind the web components standard. Think of Shadow DOM as a capsule that allows you to hide your component and make it an independent entity. For example, if all buttons across your website are green, the encapsulated components can be of any color you give them. Every time you want to change the button color, this change won’t affect those encapsulated components. So a front end component library should let you isolate your web components from the rest of your site.
This isolated nature of a web component gives you total control: you can place a component into a separate block that makes it resilient to any changes. This is especially useful if projects have many components and pages.
Despite the fact that Shadow DOM is a big part of the web components standard, web components can exist without it. When web components are simple, or if there are SEO concerns you want to address, Shadow DOM can be redundant. So a lightweight web components library without Shadow DOM can address your needs.
HTML templates are pre-defined containers for your site web components’ internal HTML implementation. In other words, HTML templates are a reusable markup for creating web components.
Now that you know what web components are, let’s have a look at where they are applied most and when a UI component library should be used.
Types of web products, and where a UI component library fits best
Websites generally fall into two main categories: reactive applications and marketing or informational websites.
Reactive applications have a lot of dynamics. Their purpose is to let users manage or control something — it can be some to-do list, chat, user account panel, cockpit for a huge product, game, or an application like an image editor. Basically, content creation and changes happen in real time. The interface should allow these actions to happen, and it changes as the user inputs content. It’s highly improbable that these solutions will require a UI component library.
Most types of web pages, though, deliver information about a product, service, or organization. In other words, content is static and wrapped in a beautiful and interactive layout. Such web products are usually powered by a content management system (CMS) — think Adobe Experience Manager, for instance. A CMS, like Adobe Experience Manager, is the foundation on which you can build your site.
To present content in a comfortable and catchy way, a web components library comes in handy while successfully replacing heavy frameworks. Maintaining high performance and displaying information to the user as quickly as possible should be your top priority, rather than having to worry about loading issues.
Marketing or informational sites can highly benefit from a UI component library based on web components. Thanks to web components, you can speed up the development process and improve the overall page performance.
When is a web components library useful?
The universal and reusable nature of a UI component library based on web components allows you to address multiple needs. Consider using a web components library in the following cases:
- When you want to reduce the time needed to build standard components. Your solution can have both standard and new features according to your business logic. To reduce the time needed to create standard features and focus on features unique to the business logic, use a front end component library and build simple features faster.
- When you need to present content in an attractive way. A UI component library allows you to access a set of web components in order to create tabs, carousels, accordions, and other page elements with content. Heavy dynamic frameworks can be redundant in this case. Additionally, you can satisfy the creative whims of designers by matching the design to the best web component library implementations.
- When you want to create an administrative panel. You can use a UI component library that includes form components for site administration.
- When you need to quickly deliver a proof of concept. With a web components library, you can check if the functionality you want to implement is feasible. Businesses may not want to pour all their resources and developer hours into an idea without having to check first to ensure it’s actually doable.
- When you want to develop your project without involving a designer. A UI component library gives you a great foundation on which you can build your design and still deliver a great user experience and user interface.
- When you want to build multiple websites. Even if your sites have a different technology stack, you can leverage a UI component library with framework agnostic web components. It’s likely that your sites will have some recurrent elements because some elements will repeat in your ecosystem. Instead of coding them each time anew, you get a ready-made solution within a UI component library.
When realizing the tangible benefits of web components, you want to choose the best front end component library. That is why you need actionable tips to help you sift through many options.
How to choose a UI component library
When you decide that a front end component library is the right fit for your project, you should ensure it actually meets the requirements in order to be considered the best front end component library.
The UI component library of your choice should be rich in features so that you are able to build a complete and comprehensive website.
A front end component library should give you the tools to extend a component if your project requires unique changes to any component that comes by default.
A UI component library should be small in size to integrate smoothly within the existing code, framework, or architecture.
The best UI component library should preserve SEO features and never stand in the way of search engines bots that crawl and index your web pages.
You also need to focus on a front end component library that implements all required accessibility features such as screen readers support, keyboard interaction support, theming support, and more.
Supercharge your project with a web components library
Projects can be small or really heavy in terms of the contained web pages. You need the tools to help you build lightweight and flexible solutions that are able to keep stakeholders, developers, and designers on the same page. Some developers like comparing development to how a person plays with a Lego set: just as you put Lego pieces together, so too do you use web components to create beautiful interfaces around your content, saving time and adding to the overall quality.
A UI component library gives you the building blocks that can work across multiple projects and still make sites look unique. A front end component library consisting of web components can power your site infinitely. You can craft UI interfaces with the Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) principle at their core. Should you have any questions or want to create a stunning site using a flexible and lightweight web components library, get in touch with us!