Boosting site performance: Edge Delivery Services and Adobe Experience Manager

Author: Daniel Strmečki

Every business site looks to attract customers by making their experiences easy to find. However, focusing solely on SEO is no longer enough. Site performance measured by Core Web Vitals is a key ranking factor in search results. In addition, research has proven that delivering fast and responsive experiences helps retain visitors.

Why is the performance of the site so important for attracting and retaining customers? First, Google’s site ranking systems seek to reward good Core Web Vitals scores for success with search. Second, Google’s research shows that 53% of mobile users will abandon sites that take over 3 seconds to load. Therefore, even if you don’t understand Core Web Vitals technical performance measurements, you should know that they can impact your site’s SEO visits, page views, bounce rates, average time on page, repeat visits, and conversion rate.

Performance-first foundation drives business outcomes

Boosting a site’s Core Web Vitals scores after it has been fully implemented and rolled out to multiple markets is very challenging. Getting those scores at a later point up to 100 is, most of the time, not possible. Adobe’s performance-first approach has built-in high performance for optimising key web metrics. The optimisations are based on the following technical solutions:

  • The website is regionally available on the edge servers with a high cache ratio
  • A phased rendering approach is applied to maximize user experience
  • Fast Commerce SaaS services enable building high-performance stores.

The approach Adobe is taking is to start with a top score of 100 and never let it drop. Automated performance tests are put in place for every code change to ensure that. In addition, proactive monitoring and reporting of core performance metrics enable teams to quickly assess and resolve issues. As mentioned earlier, high performance drives business outcomes, including boosting traffic and improving engagement.

Editorial experience for any content source

With Edge Delivery Services, businesses can create rapid development environments where authors can update and publish content quickly, and new sites can be launched rapidly. Edge Delivery can work with multiple content sources on the same website with seamless content publishing. As such, it takes only a couple of seconds to go from editing to seeing the content live. The editing experience differs depending on the choice between document-based editing or AEM with Universal Editor.

Document-based editing is the preferred choice for many content authors, as it allows them more freedom:

  • Authors focus on content creation and not on the page structure
  • Content can be prepared before the code
  • Authors use known tools such as Word, Excel, and Slack
  • There is zero onboarding effort for new authors
  • Authors review and publish content directly within the source documents
  • New content goes live in record time

Editorial experience with Document-based editing in Google Docs.

As an alternative, in-context editing with the Universal Editor is the preferred choice for authors that are already used to working with AEM or simply prefer the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing experience where you can:

  • Assemble experiences with a drag-and-drop interface
  • Edit and preview experiences in-context
  • Have more control over authoring by defining templates
  • Leverage existing AEM content and multi-site management capabilities
  • Leverage existing AEM translation services or other integrations.

Editorial experience with Universal Editor. Source: adobe.com.

Leveraging Edge Delivery Services with AEM

Edge Delivery Services act as a replacement for the publishing tear in AEM, enabling better site performance. While content is still stored in the AEM Author and edited with the Universal Editor, on publication it gets pushed directly on Edge.

However, before we can leverage Edge Delivery benefits on an existing AEM project, we need to be aware of the implementation effort:

  • Edge Delivery Services are a part of the AEMaaCS offering, and are only available in the Cloud solution
  • Component dialogues need to be migrated to use the new Universal Editor that features a properties rail/sidekick editor and native support for A/B testing
  • Frontend code needs to be rebuilt with plain JavaScript for maximum performance.

AEM content publication to Edge Delivery. Source: adobe.com.

Move to Cloud

With AEMaaCS, Adobe manages the underlying infrastructure and handles tasks such as scalability, security, and performance optimization, allowing organizations to focus on creating and managing their content.

Beside Edge Delivery performance gains, there are other drivers to consider for cloud migration:

  • DevOps framework includes modern tools for quality code development, rapid delivery, and maintenance
  • Containerized architecture enables truly dynamic autoscaling for both author and publish tiers
  • Framework updates are automatically installed, so your instance is always current with no downtimes
  • Regular backups, monitoring, and robust disaster recovery plans ensure business continuity

IBM iX has successfully implemented several AEMaaCS projects for large enterprises, with some of them hosting more than 100 live websites. We can help consult, plan, build and operate your cloud migration leveraging several migration tools including Best Practices Analyzer, Cloud Acceleration Manager, Content Transformer and Content Importer.


Refactoring components

As a first step towards leveraging benefits of Edge Delivery Services, we can enable Universal Editor in your AEMaaCS instances. However, some additional work will be required to make your existing components editable with Universal Editor. The required refactoring works include:

  • Instrumenting components with data attributes for the new Universal Editor
  • Mapping editable fields to make them work in the new Properties Rail

Now that we have components editable with Universal Editor, we still need to re-work their frontend code to achieve maximum performance. One of the main reasons Edge Delivery Services achieve best-of-class performance is that they rely only on standard web technology. Therefore, our recommendation is to avoid heavy frontend frameworks and stick to plain HTML, CSS and JavaScript as much as possible.

Our experts are proficient with both AEM and Edge Delivery Services, so we can quickly refactor any existing components targeting the performance score up to 100. Then we apply gatekeepers that guarantee the performance can never drop below the aligned target.

As we believe in close collaboration and experimentation, we recommend a step-by-step Edge Delivery migration approach to minimise risks on investment and gather end-user feedback quickly.

Example roadmap for migration to Edge Delivery

The future of content delivery

Even though Edge Delivery is relatively new, we at IBM iX believe it is the future of content delivery. Therefore, we already trained and Adobe-certified our experts to work with Edge Delivery Services. IBM iX is currently a leading Adobe partner in terms of Edge Delivery training and certification in the EMEA central region.

“We highly recommend site owners achieve good Core Web Vitals for success with Search and to ensure a great user experience generally. This, along with other page experience aspects, aligns with what our core ranking systems seek to reward.” (Google)

Let’s boost your site traffic and improve customer engagement by leveraging Edge Delivery performance benefits. Our experts can support you in migrating existing AEM implementations to Cloud and leveraging Edge Delivery performance gains. We are your trusted partner with the right talent, working spirit and vast experience delivering AEM projects for several leading international industries across sectors.

Adobe partnership

IBM and Adobe have a strategic alliance spanning both technology and services, building on more than 20 years as an Adobe consulting partner. IBM is the No.1 partner certified in Workfront, AEM and Adobe platforms. In 2023, IBM iX received the Adobe Digital Experience Partner of the Year Award for Central Europe and United Kingdom & Ireland (UK&I).

Adobe Award More about our tech partnerships

Ready to discuss how we can boost your site performance?

Get in touch with our experts!

Daniel Strmečki
Director Practice – Content & Workflows
Omar El Agrebi
Director Sales & Alliance | Adobe GTM Lead DACH

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