What is the Best CMS for Mobile Apps?

What is the best CMS for mobile apps blog header

Does your business have an app only content delivery method or you are looking to offer your content across different channels to your target audience? What ever your situation is, navigating all the solutions out there can be overwhelming. 

If you are to remember one thing from this article, it should be this: Don't choose a content management system developed with solely mobile apps in mind.

You will want to choose a flexible solution that works across all and any devices and channels. Something that slots neatly into a micro-services architecture, and boosts efficiency and collaboration at every stage. why? Because in an ever-evolving world - Chatgpt, AI - IOT - Google Home... -  the platform you use should be able to scale with you.

Key takeaways

  • The mobile app CMS you choose should be framework and device agnostic. 
  • Headless offers a lot of flexibility and is the right way to go to build a mobile app. 
  • Think connected devices not just mobile apps so your CMS should offer omnichannel capabilities to scale with your business.

On this page:

    Top 5 content management systems (CMS) for mobile apps

    Here are our picks for the best CMS for mobile apps:

    1. Contentful

    Contentful has a clean interface and flexible APIs that allow content to populate instantly on any number of mobile apps. Editors make content updates once, and Contentful publishes them everywhere, simultaneously.

    2. Contentstack

    Easy and intuitive, even for non-technical eyes (marketing team), Contenstack pulls the CMS strings of several high profile customers, to include Shell, Sky, and Walmart.

    3. Core dna

    An all-in-one digital platform that serves as an ideal CMS for mobile apps, combining content management with eCommerce, intranet, and marketing.

    4. Kentico Kontent

    Focussing on all things CaaS (content as a service), Kontent offers a distraction-free, collaborative writing experience when creating content for mobile apps.

    5. dotCMS

    An open-source alternative, with a free edition to download (enterprise plans available too, of course), dotCMS can be hosted either on-prem or in the cloud.

    How to choose the best CMS for mobile apps

    1. It has to be “headless”

    A headless CMS (sometimes known as decoupled content management system) combines the API-driven headless architecture with the front-end elements from a traditional CMS; so you get the best of both headless and traditional CMS. 

    What is a hybrid (or decoupled) CMS

    This is in stark contrast to the more traditional coupled CMS, which has its front- and back-end fused, restricting what you publish and where.

    Admittedly, if you're creating the same kind of content, for the same channel, over and over, then a simple coupled CMS will be sufficient and significantly cheaper than headless alternatives.

    But, this is so seldom the case in this increasingly omnichannel world, where, for example, customers research online purchases in-store and make in-store purchases driven by promotions on mobile apps.

    You need the ability to provide customers with a consistent experience across all touch-points, creating customer loyalty, and driving sales.

    With a headless CMS, in-house developers and agencies are free to create their own front-end layers or (more often than not) work with third-party SaaS providers.

    2. It should slot neatly into a micro services architecture

    Forward-thinking companies are striving for a micro services architecture - one that uses cloud technology to disassemble monoliths into a set of independent services developed, deployed, and maintained separately.

    Each service, whether it be your mobile app, payment gateway, or inventory management system, is connected via an API (application programming interface) – such as GraphQL or REST, and your CMS must be able to slot seamlessly into such a system.

    Five reasons why micro services beat monolithic architectures every time:

    1. They can be broken down into their constituent parts: Each service can be deployed and redeployed separately, without compromising the integrity of the system as a whole.
    2. They are more manageable: One group of developers can understand each service in its entirety, while nobody can comprehend a whole monolithic architecture in full.
    3. They are more resilient: Thanks to better security and fault isolation. Bugs and breaches can be 'contained' in one service.
    4. They are easy to upgrade and modify: Which leads to greater flexibility and agility.
    5. They are inherently scalable: Individual services can be scaled up and down independently.

    3. It has to promote content reuse

    "Content reuse" is the practice of reusing pre-existing chunks of content, multiple times, to create something new. The benefits are obvious:

    • Reduced costs of content creation, review, and maintenance: Instead of duplicating content over and over, teams can concentrate their energy on developing content that can be reused across different channels.
    • Reduced translation and proofing costs: Content can be translated and reviewed once and reused several times.
    • Improved content consistency: When content is published repeatedly through different channels, your message becomes more consistent, bolstering brand identity.
    • Increased content quality: Each time a piece of content is reused, it's improved upon, and errors are identified and removed.

    4. It has to be framework-agnostic

    There are lots of different mobile app development frameworks, each with their own sets of strengths, weaknesses, and evangelists within the developer community.

    Five of the most popular frameworks in 2019:

    1. React Native: Open-source and developed by Facebook. Ideal for developing apps quickly for both Android and IOS with a single co debase.
    2. Flutter: Open-source and developed by Google. A powerful tool for cross-platform developers with an active community.
    3. Ionic: Open-source and perfectly suited to creating hybrid apps (those that combine elements of both native and web applications).
    4. PhoneGap: Open-source and developed by Adobe. Fast and easy-to-use, requiring only basic knowledge of popular technologies like HTML, CSS, and Javascript.
    5. Xamarin: Acquired by Microsoft in 2016. Used to develop apps with near-native performance. Based on C#.

    The important thing when it comes to choosing a CMS for a mobile app is that it's framework-agnostic - not limited to apps built using a specific framework or frameworks. Only a framework-agnostic CMS is truly future-proof. 

    5. It has to be device-agnostic

    Whether you are looking to build an iOS or Android app, the CMS you choose should be device-agnostic and entirely machine-independent. It should be working effectively on a tiny smartwatch as it does on a giant smart TV, and everything in between, without any special adaptations.

    Device agnosticism sounds good, but many developers build their apps for specific operating systems. If a mobile app has been built for Android and you’re an iPhone user, then you’re out of luck until the developer makes an iOS version.

    6. It has to be industry-agnostic

    Whether it be publishers, financial institutions, or healthcare organizations, most industries have bespoke CMS solutions. But the best CMSs for mobile apps are industry-agnostic - agile and flexible enough to compete creatively and intelligently in an ever-changing marketplace.

    7. It has to manage content workflow intelligently

    Content workflow is "how content is requested, sourced, created, reviewed, approved, and delivered." 

    For mobile app cms , you want a software that will smoothly guide you through a streamlined flow of planning, creating, revising, approving, optimizing, publishing, reporting, editing, and reusing content.

    Why are content workflows essential?

    • Content creation is broken down into manageable, actionable steps
    • A shared roadmap is created, so everyone is on the same page
    • Approval is sought and provided effectively - no more endless back-and-forth emailing
    • Team roles and responsibilities are clear, improving accountability and reducing overlap

    8. It has to be scalable

    Seasonal user fluctuations, sudden traffic spikes, and company-wide expansion and contraction all affect the consumption and requirements of your mobile app CMS. To retain efficiency in the face of such change, you need a CMS that scales in tandem with varying patterns of usage.

    Monolithic CMSs have traditionally been terrible at scaling. To manage the ebbs and flows that are part and parcel of modern business, you have to build significant redundancy into the system - a waste of resources for which you have to pay.

    Cloud-based SaaS solutions of all kinds excel when it comes to scalability, and cloud-bases CMSs are no exception. You can increase or decrease capacity on a pay-as-you-go-type basis providing resiliency in the face of change. It's a cheaper, more flexible, and agile way of working that doesn't require a dedicated IT team for maintenance.

    How your content management system (CMS) can determine the success of your mobile apps

    • Mobile phone usage accounts for 52% of all online traffic (compared to just 44% for desktop)
    • 42% of all companies have a mobile app with 30% of the remainder planning to build one soon
    • 55% of companies owned by millennials (arguably the most tech-savvy among us) have a mobile app

    Needless to say, how you present your brand through a mobile phone screen is of the utmost importance, and a mobile application is the best way to govern this.

    While native apps are still very popular, recently we've witnessed the rise of the PWA (the progressive web app), which looks set to eclipse the native app altogether. These are responsive websites that look, feel, and in many ways, act like native apps, even though they appear in your standard browser. They load with no network, sync in the background, and send push notifications. A good example would be the Starbucks app: https://app.starbucks.com/.

    Conclusion: You don't want a CMS designed solely with mobile apps in mind. The best CMSs manage content through any channel and device, whether it be a mobile app, desktop, wearable, or IoT device.


    Schedule a Free Demo Today! 

    Here’s what you can expect:

    • Walkthrough: An introduction to the Core dna platform. 
    • Access to a free trial: Free trial access to the platform to test all the features.  

    Core dna can customize each visitor’s experience through the Personalization application and the Secure Member applications. These applications allow you to tailor the page design and content down to the individual.

    For many organizations the need for a Content Management System (CMS) boils down to two main factors;

    1. Internal pressure: the desire to easily create and manage content in a more efficient manner and an awareness that solutions are available (at a price that is not preventative to using them)
    2. Legislation: As across the globe governments are tackling the accessibility of information and forcing organizations to comply.

    However, it is important to recognize that CMS solutions themselves have also evolved to the point where they are now:

    • Genuinely easy to use
    • Easier to deploy with pre-built, modular applications
    • Stable products that are constantly developed by dedicated developers 
    • Less costly (which in turn improves the return on investment)
    • Standards enforcing - so that the legislative requirements can be met using the tools
    • Strategically significant to organizations operations.

    This depends on the traditional platform. With a headless CMS, the key difference is its ability to create different content types and then make that content available through an application programming interface (API). 

    If a traditional CMS is able to process API requests it can be integrated with a headless platform. If it's not then programmers will need to process the API requests outside of the traditional CMS, through the use of javascript in the display of the website. 

    Understanding what a traditional CMS is

    A monolithic or traditional cms is a content management system that stores all of its content in a single database. This means that all of your content, including pages, posts, comments, and media, are stored in one place. A monolithic cms is best suited for small websites with relatively simple content structures. If you have a large website with complex content, you may want to consider a different type of content management system.

    Understanding what a headless CMS is

    A Headless Content Management System (CMS) enables users to manage and store content without the need for a graphical user interface (GUI). A headless CMS is often used in conjunction with a “front-end” website or application that provides a GUI for end users.

    You can learn more about headless vs monolithic in this guide

    • What is a headless CMS 
    • The difference between headless vs traditional CMS 
    • What is a decoupled CMS 
    • Headless vs decoupled CMS 
    • Things to consider when choosing a headless CMS 
    • Headless CMS case studies

    Schedule a one-to-one consultation with your product specialist

    Here’s what you can expect:

    • Walkthrough: An introduction of the Core dna platform
    • Analysis: Personalized recommendations based on your  business needs.
    • Case studies: How other businesses have used Core dna to scale more efficiently

    Sam Saltis
    Sam Saltis

    An entrepreneur at heart with over 20+ years of experience in building internet software, growing online companies and managing product development.

    Loves all things SaaS, technology, and startups.

    You can find him feeding his beloved fish when he's back in Australia.

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