Why Use a Headless CMS?

A headless CMS is a new type of Content Management System and the buzzword that everyone is talking about. But, what does it mean? What are the benefits of using headless vs. traditional CMS? And if you’re still not convinced, why should you use headless CMS? 

Let’s look at why a headless CMS may be best for you, as well as the benefits, examples and use cases of this type of Content Management System:

The headless nature of this new type of Content Management System is changing the way content is stored and distributed. The headless CMS solves the need to serve the same content to a growing range of platforms and devices. Due to the digital era's high demands, businesses are focusing on connecting clients across several channels and aiding them throughout their buyer's journey. Since a headless CMS separates content from display, it may be utilized on any device, from smartphones to tablets to desktops. A headless Content Management System enables composable content, which allows for flexible content structures and gives developers the freedom to create the content the way they want to use it. Headless architecture also allows developers to innovate and future-proof the system.

What is a Headless CMS?

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you already know what a Content Management System (CMS) is, and you may be familiar with a traditional CMS. In case you don’t, let’s start by first defining what a Content Management System is in general. A Content Management System is any kind of software that enables users to manage textual content for websites and other digital applications effectively and efficiently.

What makes the headless architecture different from a decoupled or traditional CMS is that a headless CMS is a back-end-only Content Management System that makes content accessible via an API for display on any device. The content repository, or "body," is isolated from the display layer, or “head" — hence the name “headless.” This type of Content Management System doesn't care how content is presented. Its only purpose is to store, deliver, and collaborate on structured material. APIs integrate back-end and front-end systems according to how the website operator sets them to do so. 

How Does a Headless CMS Work?

A traditional CMS becomes headless when an API is included. A headless CMS serves content via APIs, which is why it’s also called API-first CMS. It saves cloud-based content created by content providers. The developers then retrieve it via API and send it to your app or device.

APIs use REST or GraphQL. Representational State Transfer (REST) enables developers to establish web services and interoperate client requests and databases. RESTful services offer stateless data access and modification. GraphQL is an API query language that isn't bound to any one database and uses existing codes to display data. By specifying types and fields, it accesses back-end data.

Consider the following example: 

If you own a small business that provides a service, your clients may find your website through various means. For example, they may be on their mobile device or be using a voice assistant. No matter the channel your customers find you on, you should be able to immediately acquire and provide data, quotes, etc. across all platforms for a consistent user experience. 

It’s unrealistic to build an infrastructure for each device or platform. Instead, using REST or GraphQL APIs, a headless Content Management System can distribute content via APIs across various channels, platforms, and devices.

How a Headless CMS Changes Content Storage and Distribution

With headless architecture, you can manage your content without having to worry about how it will be delivered. A headless CMS can reduce the content infrastructure and user interface complexity by working on the presentation separate from the content. 

Also, headless architecture can help you keep your brand consistent and compliant by storing all of your content in one place. Your material just needs to be updated once by your editors. There is an API stack in place that ensures that updates appear on all channels quickly.

If your material is structured, it can be effortlessly recycled across several platforms and channels. Structured content is a broad word that refers to material that has been split down into small building components, arranged predictably, and metadata-classified. 

The headless architecture doesn't solve the issue of unstructured material. Unstructured content mixes page content with code, which is commonly done with a WYSIWYG editor. WYSIWYGs allow digital content developers to perform back-end adjustments. This is okay for web pages, but the content is stuck in that format. On the other hand, with a headless CMS, you can reassemble structured content components to produce new versions suited to a specific audience, reconfigured for a campaign, or redesigned for use on a different platform. 

Traditional CMS Vs. Decoupled Vs. Headless

Coupled/Traditional CMS

The back-end and front-end of a traditional CMS, also known as coupled, are intrinsically tied. While visitors view the front-end, all website design and modification apps are saved in the back-end. Many popular blogging systems, such as WordPress and Squarespace, are considered traditional CMSs.

Decoupled CMS

Using a decoupled CMS, two independent systems govern the website's back-end and front-end. To make changes to the material after it has been modified in the CMS, it must be sent over an API and published to a specified delivery management system (also known as the front-end). Front-end architecture is thus essentially predetermined.

Headless CMS

What is the distinction between a decoupled CMS and a headless CMS? A front-end system is not included in the headless architecture. Instead, the material is released to an API or web service that may provide content to any device.

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Find out how a headless CMS can transform how you think about web content, the difference between headless vs traditional CMS, things to consider when choosing a headless CMS, and many more.

Advantages of a Headless CMS

  • Higher Performance

    A headless CMS simplifies tasks by removing standard CMS complexity and the constraints of coupled or disconnected CMSs that delay page loading. Using a headless CMS to show customized content across various channels will boost speed more than WordPress. A speedier website or app means greater conversion rates, which benefits business development.
  • Deliver Content Across Various Channels

    A headless CMS can offer customized content across channels. With an API, you can easily distribute content across linked platforms. Headless CMSs can deliver a fluid online experience for users on your website, in a native app, or on a wearable device.
  • Diverse Use of Content

    Since the display layer and database are separate, you may repurpose your content. A single source of material, such as a product description for an online catalog, may automatically adapt to its publication context.
  • Simple for Editors

    Headless CMS separates code from content, so editors can ignore the code and focus on the text. All updates are delivered to all digital assets and allow you to reuse and mix material. Also, API-delivered content is the best when it comes to integrating, altering, and disseminating, helping to speed up the creation of content-driven sites and apps.
  • Powerful for Developers

    Developers can leverage the newest tools and frameworks to create content experiences on any modern platform without being limited by a proprietary language or traditional CMS. Since your developers will utilize APIs to get content, they don't require a CMS-specific template or ineffective frameworks. Developers may pick the frameworks and tools they want and manage the content's structure and design.
  • More Flexibility and Scalability

    Using a headless CMS allows you to create a front-end framework that is appropriate for your project. Also, the separation of the back-end and front-end in a headless CMS allows for easy scaling. During maintenance, there will be no downtime. The material given via APIs is easier to maintain and distribute without interfering with the functionality of your website.
  • Security

    A headless CMS's reliance on APIs increases security. The API can be hidden behind one or more layers of code, making it more secure. A headless CMS reduces DDoS attacks since the publishing platform isn't accessible from the database. Also, access is restricted to the organization, and content can be encrypted and/or decrypted.

When Should you Use a Headless CMS?

Your website or app uses a JavaScript framework (React, VueJS, etc.)

JAMSTACK's growing popularity has accelerated the adoption of headless CMS, letting developers best choose how content is provided.

You need to design dynamic, personalized digital experiences

A headless CMS serves as the underlying repository for structuring content flows in order to deliver tailored, integrated experiences. This is especially beneficial for eCommerce businesses.

You have a Jekyll, Gatsby, or another static site-generated website

Headless CMS simplifies the management of a static website. It isolates content from presentation and delivers all of your content via content APIs.

You have a native app (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)

You can distribute content from a headless CMS to all your websites and applications for a once-and-done distribution. Content providers have a web-based dashboard to generate content for iOS and Android apps. This assures message consistency and device-agnostic reach.

You want to add a CMS to your eCommerce stack (Shopify, BigCommerce, Commercetools, Hybris, Magento2, etc.)

A headless CMS is great for eCommerce retailers that wish to future-proof themselves. It also helps teams design and deliver consumer experiences and update marketing campaigns quickly.

You Need Robust Content Management

As stated throughout this article, a headless CMS provides robust abilities to create, manage, and recycle content across different devices and different contexts.

When Should You Not Use a Headless CMS?

Your website does not need regular changes

A headless CMS may be overkill for a simple website that doesn’t need constant updating or have robust content needs. Many web content management solutions, such as WordPress, provide the necessary functionality for managing a single content stream without requiring investment in the back-end complexity of headless architecture.

Limited support

If your organization lacks the resources and technical competence to operate a headless CMS, then there is no need to introduce technological challenges of a headless CMS.

Limited time and budget

A headless CMS can be costly to set up. If your business isn’t there quite yet, it may not be worth the time and financial investment. There are plenty of open-source options that would be quicker to use.

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Examples and Use Cases

Jaggards

Jaggards using headless to obtain content. Jaggards is a precious metal trading company that operates as a B2B distributor. Jaggards partnered up with Headless CMS SaaS, Core dna. This is as they have the niche need of a site that automatically updates the prices of their product every minute, heavy-duty security and a highly customized layout. This is possiblr ith from-scratch CMS structures such as Headless. On top of this, Jaggards is also able to:

  • Enrich the current information
  • Drive internal workflows
  • import/Export information to other systems

V-Zug

V-Zug is a Swiss luxury appliance maker that needed an eCommerce solution with headless commerce capabilities in order to integrate their eCommerce ecosystem with various back-end systems. V-Zug used Core dna, as Headless CMS solution, to achieve their goals. They took advantage of Core dna’s 80+ pre-built apps to take care of payments, overstock management and dynamic pricing. Additionally, the end product used Core dna’s APIs to seamlessly integrate with several back-end systems, in turn:

  • Transforming internal processes
  • Using headless Commerce to features to extend the use of the ERP
  • Simplifying/automating repetitive process

Read this next: Headless CMS Use Cases

Conclusion

Consider a headless CMS if you want to keep your material up to date, publish your material across numerous platforms, have several websites and digital tools to help your business flourish, and want to utilize your favorite languages to create the front-end. 

Also, headless CMS is critical in an omnichannel context. Applications, integrations, newsletters, and more are just some of the ways businesses must make use of online content. It’s a pain to have to set up all of these types of content and functions across various channels or deal with the limitations of a decoupled or traditional CMS. 

A headless CMS acts as a central hub for your company's content and assets. As a result, managing, editing, updating, and publishing material is easy, saving time and resources to focus on other business needs.

Karen Cabecas

Director of Operations from Core dna's Melbourne-based office. Karen loved to be challenged, learn and expanding her knowledge.

As a DOP of many years now, she has incomparable mastery of comprehension and strategy in everything about Core dna as well as related services, content and operations. 

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