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SftB #4 recap - Made for more: The journey of going headless at Zettle by Paypal

Siavash Moazzami-Vahid
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Cecilia Razelli is the Web Production Manager at Zettle by Paypal. Zettle builds commerce tools, such as mobile card readers and point-of-sale apps that empower small businesses to compete with the big players. Since 2018, Zettle has been a part of the PayPal family and continues to help small businesses thrive by offering them unique point-of-sale and payment solutions.

In this fireside chat from the 4th Stories from the Blok, Cecilia sat down with me (Siavash from marketing) to talk about Zettle’s journey of going headless.

SftB #4 - Made for more: The journey of going headless at Zettle by Paypal

Cecilia and the rest of the Web Production team are responsible for maintaining the public facing websites from a content, technical, and design perspective.

Before the journey

“The situation (before we moved) was very siloed” - That’s how Cecillia described the content situation before going headless. Multiple systems had to be used simultaneously just to maintain the web properties. This included an in-house CMS plus a 3rd party CMS in charge of their content, which naturally made everything “disjointed” as Cecilia put it.

A screenshot of the presentation showing the old setup at Zettle.

Zettle's old setup

This resulted in a situation where development resources had to be mostly spent on maintenance and fixing bugs, instead of more creative work, such as creating better user journeys.

While having multiple silos was a huge pain point for the whole Zettle team, another push for modernizing the content structure came from thinking about a series of new business developments. For example, Cecilia pointed out that as the marketing team grew, they started to think about finding ways to improve collaboration and working better as a team, and also go one step further and work side-by-side with other teams such as Product.

Perhaps most importantly was the decision to let content play a more central role - or rather, the fact that the focus on content was coming more and more to the forefront. This obviously was in conflict with the existing content structure and its flaws.

Preparing for the journey: Coming up with a requirements list

After deciding to move, it was time to come up with a clear and extensive features list that the new content solution was going to provide. While keeping their current issues and goals both in mind, Cecilia and her coworkers came up with a 3-tiered list:

  • Basic needs: Required in order to be complete.
  • Performance needs: Requirements that have a linear relationship with stakeholder satisfaction.
  • Delighters: Requirements that are unforeseen, but may yield paramount satisfaction.
A screenshot of the presentation showing the 3 categories of requirements.

The 3 different categories of requirements for a new CMS

This extensive list was the result of multiple teams coming together and giving their unique perspective on what an ideal content solution would look like.

A screenshot showing different teams playing a role in the final requirements list.

Requirements mapping by different stakeholders

Finding Storyblok and the new techstack

During the research process of compiling the requirements list, it was apparent that any potential new solution had to be headless. Flexibility was another key factor that everyone agreed was an absolute necessity - which usually goes hand in hand with headless systems.

While looking at possible headless solutions, Storyblok was chosen as one of the candidates among other options. Eventually, proof-of-concepts were conducted on 3 different systems, including Storyblok. Internal stakeholders were given access to these different systems to be evaluated from their own perspectives.

Storyblok came out as a clear winner as it checked every box that the team had in mind. Specifically, the collaboration and localization capabilities were key differentiators, as those issues were central to the overall content strategy.

While talking about the migration, Cecilia pointed out that the learning curve was almost non-existent, as all team members felt immediately comfortable working with the new system. This was true both for content creators and developers, which was in stark contrast to the previous setup.