Keeping up with the competition and the demands of your customers requires constantly enhancing and improving your website or web application experience. But traditional approaches to delivering updates won’t keep you agile. You need to start thinking about a new way to manage your web and digital experience using Continuous Delivery.

Traditional vs. Continuous

The traditional, and still often followed, approach to delivering updates and new features to a website or a web application is to introduce them in new versions or releases. Releases can be major – with sweeping changes to the website or application, or they can be minor providing a few important enhancements and a series of bug fixes.

This is the approach many companies follow today. But what they are realizing is they aren’t putting out their enhancements fast enough. They are falling behind the competition and customers are getting frustrated and leaving. The answer to this problem is not as simple as speeding up release dates. You need to follow an approach that is proven to introduce changes faster without damaging the brand with bugs and enhancements that don’t work as expected.

Continuous Delivery is the process of automatically delivering new features, fixes, and functionality to production. It requires managing code between environments (development, test, staging, production) in a source control system and a development approach that focused on small incremental development. There is no waiting for a release date. But there the process needs to be well defined and laid out.

The Continuous Delivery Process

To understand continuous delivery, it helps to understand continuous integration. Continuous integration is an agile development approach where developers code small updates that are synced with the main source code in a source control system (like Git) several times or more a day.

Using this approach, all developers work from a single code base that is branched when the code is ready to move from development to testing. Once testing is complete, the code is then branched again to move to production. This movement through environments by branching the main code base is called continuous delivery. Because it’s smaller, well-tested changes, the organization can ensure a stable code base that can be continuously moved to production.

Taking on a continuous delivery deployment model requires a lot of changes in your organization. From how developers code to how testers and deployment administrators work, everything is going to change. The business needs to adapt to this model as well. They must set aside plans for major changes and think in terms of implementing smaller incremental changes regularly.

The Benefits of Continuous Delivery

There are many benefits to continuous delivery. It enables you to deliver regular updates to the website or web application much faster. That means you can consistently provide your customers with a great experience – whether that’s new functionality or improved personalization or targeting, or something else.

It also enables you to not just keep up with the competition, but potentially jump ahead, especially if the competition isn’t using a continuous delivery deployment model.

Continuous delivery also reduces the risk your organization must deal with when releasing larger changes to your source code. Bigger releases with multiple changes need to go through rigorous testing, and even then things can slip through the cracks. Bigger releases are often more costly.

Continuous Delivery Drives Customer Experience

Improving your customer’s experience requires constantly monitoring and making changes to your web experience. While it’s easy to sync up content quickly across environments, especially if your CMS has a built in Sync tool, it’s harder to implement software updates.
Continuous delivery is an approach that enables you to consistently deliver smaller, incremental updates to your website or web application to continually improve the customer experience. Software as a service is a perfect fit for a continuous delivery model, enabling you to make changes and roll them out quickly to customers.

When supporting a continuous delivery strategy, look for a CMS that supports delivery of content into multiple environments, such as development, staging, and production. Look for a CMS that integrates with source code control systems like Git, and provides flexibility in the way content is deployed, enabling it to support standard web publishing processes as well API and file-based integration with more fixed application build and deploy processes.