What is Headless CMS, and What are its Advantages?

Headless CMSes were born-out to meet the new era demands to personalize the content and engage new users through multiple channels. 

A headless content management system has no front-end components or head to determine how the content is presented to the end-user. Instead, the content can be published anywhere, from many channels through APIs (Application Programming Interface). With a headless CMS, theoretically, there are no restrictions on where and how engaging content can be delivered for a great customer experience.

There are many benefits to pushing content out for different user experiences, including the ability to integrate with third-party systems. 

However, when using headless CMS technologies, it’s critical to maintain decoupled architecture, that’s because Headless refers only to front-end agnostic architecture, which means no presentation layer. To gain a deep understanding of headless CMS and its benefits, skim through this blog post. 

Let’s Take A Deeper Dive - What is Headless CMS?

The headless CMS space has gained tremendous traction in recent years. This content management model is helping brands manage the number of emerging channels and devices.

Due to its wide range of advantages, more and more businesses are adopting headless CMS to streamline their workflow and improve their customer experience. According to Globe News Wire, the headless content management market was valued at USD 328.5 million in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 1,628.6 million by 2027.

A headless CMS, also known as headless systems or headless software, is a back-end content management system where the content repository, the “body,” is decoupled from the presentation layer. This means you can manage your content from one place. It allows you to deploy content across any front-end channel you choose. This is key to omnichannel strategies as it lets you integrate content into one website, software, or system just by calling the APIs.

On the other hand, the traditional CMSes approach to managing content puts everything into one big bucket - images, content, CSS, and HTML. This made it difficult to reuse the content as it was commingled with code. But with the changing demand, the need for a more flexible solution has increased. Meanwhile, traditional CMS has failed to go with the flow. A headless CMS resolves this problem.

A headless CMS comprises of:

  • Database: The space where content and digital assets are stored.
  • Content management back-end: The space where content is created.
  • API: It connects the content management back-end to any channel or device.

Headless CMS Vs. Decoupled CMS: What’s The Difference?

Headless CMS offers editorial and modeling tools to create and edit content, but the concept of “publishing” just means making it available via an API. It assumes that your development team will handle the rest with whichever tools and frameworks they prefer.

On the other hand, the defining feature of this decoupling CMS is that it doesn’t assume anything, and the front-end and back-end are separated. This separation is similar to headless CMs, but a decoupled CMS comes with a head. 

Decoupled CMS, also known as hybrid headless CMS, offers templates and tools (pre-configured layouts and a WYSIWYG editor) that help content managers to create what they want. Whereas headless has no responsibility for how the content is displayed. 

In simple words, a decoupled CMS can do everything a headless CMS can but also considers the presentation layer. 

A headless CMS leaves the decision to developers on how they would like to display the content. This is often through interactive frameworks, like React.js, Vue.js, Angular JS, or Gatsby JS.

  • React.js
  • Lightweight
  • Easy-to-use
  • Reusable components
  • Virtual DOM
  • Easy to test APIs and codes
  • UI and server-side rendering
  • One-way data flow
  • Structured, modular, and stable code

  • Vue.js
  • Lightweight
  • Seo-friendly
  • Easy-to-learn
  • Two-way data-binding
  • Virtual DOM rendering
  • Built-in MVC (Model-View-Controller)
  • Good community support
  • Code readability
  • Excellent for unit-testing
  • Seamless integration and flexibility

  • Angular JS
  • Stable and public API
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Two-way data binding
  • Code readability and reusability
  • MVC (Model-View-Controller) 
  • Thor-part integrations
  • Highly testable applications and websites
  • Dedicated debugging tools
  • Better server performance

  • Gatsby JS
  • SEO-friendly
  • Excellent community support
  • Serverless rendering
  • Enhanced security
  • Less maintenance required
  • Build and deploy quickly
  • Real-time content update views
  • 200+ plugins
  • PWA (Progressive Web Application) capabilities
  • Uses GraphQL to build a data layer
  • Multiple data sources
  • Very easy for CI/CD
  • Scalable
  • Data prefetching
  • Automated code and data splitting
  • Multiple data sources
  • Accessibility tools

Headless CMS Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Secured third-party integrations
  • Provide control over where and how your content is presented to the end-user
  • Fast content delivery
  • Future-proof
  • Enable developers to use their favorite frameworks and tools
  • Cons
  • It relies on additional technologies for its “head”
  • Bo built-in presentation functionality
  • Difficult to see a live preview without the help of development assistance

Decoupled CMS Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Fast and flexible content delivery
  • Simpler deployments and rapid design iterations
  • Secure and easy third-party integrations
  • Fewer dependencies on IT
  • Future proof
  • Cons
  • Quite complex to configure and deploy
  • Front-end development work required for design

Technical Talk—Headless CMS 

Here are some key factors which you should consider when working on a headless CMS project:

  • API: Ensure that the headless CMS offers a robust API that will enable your team to access and update the content easily.
  • Content modeling: Make sure the CMS makes it easier to model the content so that you can easily create and update complex content structures.
  • Security: Usually, headless CMS is more secure than traditional systems, but it will be good if you choose a platform with robust security features.
  • Performance: Make sure you choose a powerful headless CMS that can handle the load times and traffic levels required by your project.

Advantages of a Headless CMS Over Traditional CMS

  • Excellent Omnichannel Experiences

Enhancing the omnichannel experience is great for improving the overall interaction between customers and the brand on multiple channels. However, creating an excellent omnichannel experience is quite challenging for marketers because they need to create iconic content that shines across all touchpoints. 

A headless CMS allows you to manage each channel easily and orchestrate a seamless experience that spans all touchpoints. These systems enable content managers to create once and publish everywhere. Also, they help maintain consistency and relevance.

  • Provide the best of both a traditional CMS and headless architecture in one platform

While a headless CMS enables content managers to push content to any presentation layer, it can lead to challenges for non-technical marketers due to a lack of editing capabilities. 

A hybrid CMS can overcome this problem with pre-built front-end tools that use APIs to connect with back-end systems. This gives marketers the familiarity with the templates and editing tools to publish content to relevant front-end environments.

  • Developer Support - Speed and Ease

A headless CMS doesn’t render content. Instead, specialized tools handle rendering, making it faster. This allows developers and content creators to add and update content, trusting that content will spread to every device. With a headless CMS, you can also spin a website much faster. 

Developers can more easily manage content across apps and websites. Furthermore, front-end engineers are not dependent on back-end developers to make presentation changes. Plus, you can easily integrate more tools to improve your productivity and efficiency.

Developers can also securely and easily integrate any of your existing systems. This includes webhooks (user-defined by an HTTP callback) that trigger action-specific events.

  • Superior Software Architecture

A headless CMS is an excellent choice for creating web platforms and services. That’s because a headless CMS enables developers to produce a better software architecture from the ground up. Websites created this way are usually built in a manner that the CMS platform and published content are separated. 

Going Beyond The Headless CMS With A Content Platform And Structured Content!

A content platform, like Contentful, is the next evolution of headless CMS that starts with structured content in the form of a content model.

A content model defines and organizes all the building blocks or content types an organization uses. These content models are tailored as per the organization’s needs.

Benefits

  • Increase reusability and scalability
  • Enable collaborative workflow
  • Unify content into a single content hub

Need Help Deciding On A Headless CMS Platform?

After reading this blog, you are probably considering investing in a headless CMS. However, choosing the best one is no easy feat.

Consider these things to choose the right CMS platform for your business:

  • Determine the purpose of the website
  • Consider plans for scaling
  • Understand the performance expectations
  • Check the freedom level of the CMS
  • Known your in-house team's technical strength
  • Know the content channels you want to tap
  • Consider your security needs and budget

You can take help from our experts. We have years of excellence in building robust, dynamic, responsive websites that can leverage your business. Whether you want to create a website using WordPress, Kentico, Drupal, AEM, Contentful, or Webflow, we will help you. Contact us now!  

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