Why is Tagless Better for Optimization Tools?

October 30, 2020

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There are a number of optimization platforms on the market, each touting its own set of differentiators and benefits. However, they all have one critical similarity – they are tag-based. This is something we talk a lot about at SiteSpect, as our patent makes us the only tagless solution on the market, which provides our customers many capabilities that other tools don’t have. But, what exactly does that mean, and why exactly does that matter? In this blog, we’re going to break down what we mean when we talk about the benefits of SiteSpect’s “tagless architecture.”

What is a “Tag-based” tool?

Most optimization tools function by inserting a snippet of JavaScript on your site. When a site uses one of these tools to modify content or the user experience, the process looks like this:

  1. User requests a URL
  2. Request goes to server
  3. Server delivers original experience
  4. JavaScript loads and tells the browser to swap the experience
  5. Request goes back to server
  6. The correct experience loads

This is how most optimization tools work. This method allows for client-side changes to the site, meaning changes the user experiences directly in the browser. For example, copy changes, image swaps, or design updates are all client-side changes. It also comes with a few risks. It requires the insertion of third-party code into your site, which is sometimes a deal breaker with development teams. It also tends to cause either slow page load times or cause flicker, because of that extra trip back to the server required to deliver the correct content. The JavaScript tags also introduce the possibility of misfires, which can cause inaccurate data.

What is a “Tagless” tool?

SiteSpect works without inserting JavaScript tags. Instead, SiteSpect sits in between the browser and the server. Traffic flows directly through SiteSpect, allowing content changes to happen before the request returns to the browser. When you use SiteSpect, the process looks like this:

  1. User requests a URL
  2. Request passes through SiteSpect on the way to the server
  3. Server delivers original experience while SiteSpect modifies it appropriately
  4. Correct experience loads in browser

 

 

The fundamental difference here is that the browser only reads and delivers one experience. This means SiteSpect sites see faster page load time and don’t experience flicker.

What About Server-Side Testing?

Tag-based versus SiteSpect’s tagless architecture also affects server-side A/B testing. Server-side deals with parts of the user experience that don’t happen in the browser, for example algorithms (such as for search results or product recommendations), or product releases. These changes have to happen before the request returns to the server, and therefore they work differently for tag-based tools.

Typically for tag-based tools, server-side testing involves a software development kit (SDK) and installing third-party code into your server stack. This requires developers and regular maintenance. Additionally, server-side tools are usually sold as a separate product, with a separate point of access and separate campaign management.

SiteSpect’s tagless architecture means that server-side testing works the same way that client-side does. Experiments can happen at the origin without any additional code installation. Plus, all of SiteSpect’s capabilities live within one interface, one point of access, and unified campaign management.

Summary

The difference between the two methods is fairly straightforward, but can have major effects on your stack. You can learn more about SiteSpect’s specific benefits here, including the flexibility that being tagless provides.

To learn more about SiteSpect in general, visit our website.

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Kevin Plankey is the Director of Demand Generation for SiteSpect and is responsible for marketing operations to include strategy and implementation of all demand generation efforts: social, email, website, organic/paid media, and event planning & promotion.

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