Headless CMS Buzzwords and Terminology Explained

By Markus Backman

9th April, 2024

The world of Headless CMS is saturated with lots of jargon and buzzwords these days, and we think that is frustrating too. We get it. That's why we've made a compilation of the most common buzzwords, industry terms, definitions and acronyms right now in the Headless CMS landscape.

Maybe you are a decision maker considering to migrate your website content to a new Content Management System, but there's so many buzzwords making you confused while trying to make sense of things. Of course, you want to become familiarized with all the terminology first so you can make a decision with more confidence. This is exactly why we've made a CMS buzzword glossary like this for you, consisting of the most trending CMS related definitions, industry terms, and buzzwords we can think of.

First of all, what's a headless CMS again?

Unlike traditional CMSs, with a Headless CMS it doesn't matter how you create your front-end. They simply provide an API that can be used to fetch necessary content to your front-end of choice (website, mobile application). Your content is decoupled from the front end so to say.

We can think of so many reasons why you should use a Headless CMS. Probably the biggest advantage is that you can manage all your content and assets in one place, nice and tidy. Everything works faster and more efficiently that way. We believe that Headless CMS will soon become the de facto standard for CMS architecture.

    Table of contents

    In this compilation

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP is optimized for mobile web browsing and intended to help webpages load faster.

API

This is where the magic happens between two software communicating. An API (Application Programming Interface) is essentially a system allowing several software to communicate with each other. Examples are social media bots and eCommerce transactions.

Agile Development

Instead of being just a technology, Agile Development is more of a project management method in software development. Actually, it's more of an umbrella term comprising continuous planning, testing, and integration of software solutions.

A/B Testing

Let's say you have designed two or more user interface features for your website, like a CTA button. You are not sure how any of the features will perform among your website visitors for your website. This is where A/B testing comes in, you test which of the variants perform the best. In practice, you have a system that shows the user on of the variants, randomly, and then over time, with the help of tools you can see which of them perform better.

Best of Breed

Imagine the software you love the most, what's better than that right? Well of course it would be the things you love the most, doubled or tripled! Now, this explains Best of Breed technology. You'll get the best of the best technology by handpicking and creating tech together of all the best software available. Foe example, when building a high functioning, modern website, you want to utilize the best suitable CMS, web framework and deployment platform to achieve the best available performance for your website.

Cloud-Native

These are technologies or applications that were designed to reside in the cloud from the very beginning. Your website needs to be hosted somewhere, either locally on a privately owned server or in a "cloud" data center (cloud data centers doesn't magically exist in an empty space, but on a server somewhere else). When you host your website on cloud-native, you get a modular service that is easy to scale up and down depending on website traffic demand. The website becomes highly scalable, flexible, and reliable working with.

CDN (Content Delivery Network)

Think about when you have a large website, with lot's of different content, features and functions here and there, a Content Delivery Network comes handy in this case. It's a group of geographically distributed servers that together deliver different media, files and other things more efficiently to the user by caching content closer to them. It reduces latency and keeps the website fast.

Composable Architecture

Composable web architecture is another modern approach to organizing web systems. It simplifies web development by dividing complex systems into smaller, reusable components. To put it simply, every component is a building block that can be easily manipulated. Whether it is a user interface element, a business logic module, or a data service, you can combine and customize them to suit any business's unique needs. By combining best of breed components like this, you'll get a architecture with a high level of freedom, being easy to work with.

Content as a Service

The Content as a service (CaaS) is an approach for delivering digital content to customers. Imagine that you have a website, and you produce tons of content. Instead of it being stored locally by you, the service provider does it for you, and they do it in a way that it always reaches the user in its optimal form. You don't need to manage or worry about the underlying infrastructure holding your content, but the CaaS does it for you.

Content Management System (CMS)

Speaking of Content Management System related terms in this article, this is obviously a very central definition. So you have a website with more than 1000 pages, and you probably want to keep all that neat and tidy. That's where the Content Management System comes handy, it keeps all your webpages organized. You can easily modify, extend, and work with your website, all through a visually appealing interface on your computer, collaboratively with other team members.

Content Migration

So you are about to switch all of your website stuff to another Content Management System, that process is called migration.

Content Monetization

This on is very simple really. Content Monetization refers to the process when you produce content on your website, your goal is to make money out of it. The sky is the limit for ways to do so, but we are not going to dive into ways of making money on your website content at this time.

Content Syndication

Another marketing related term is Content Syndication. It involves recycling/republishing content on other sites. Your goal may to be reach a larger audience by doing so. You might encounter this term in CMS related topics.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Sometimes, you might mix between a Customer Relationship Management platform (CRM) and a Content Management System (CMS). A CRM is designed for handling customer information only, and the information there is highly confidential, and never public information. You do this to keep track on your leads and accounts. It's especially handy when you get vast amounts of customer data to keep track of.

Dashboard

It could be the dashboard of a car, but in tech terms, a Dashboard is simply the visual interface panel where you work on your technology. For example, a CMS system has a dashboard, it's like a control panel where you steer your ship and do changes, add things, and more.

Data Encryption

It's an security method to keep any online data safe. Of course, you want to make sure no invited parties get access to your data. They could do you a lot of harm!

Decoupled CMS

In a Decoupled CMS, the content management system and front-end are two separated applications. This allows for more flexible content management, since the front-end is displaying your content, and the back-end is storing it. In the old days you had to start tinkering with the back-end to change something, resulting in a high risk of things going south.

Developer Experience (DX)

Developer Experience refers to the overall experience and satisfaction of developers when using a particular technology. Is the tech easy to use and results in fewer headaches? Yes? Good, the developer experience is at a great level.

Digital Asset Management (DAM)

This is more of a procedure rather than a technology. Digital Asset Management refers to the method of storing, organizing and managing media, digital files, and other assets within a company.

Digital Experience

This term is not really hard to comprehend, really. It's the perceptions your customer have of your company's digital assets, like a website or application.

Digital Experience Platform (DXP)

A Digital Experience Platform can be seen as the all-in-one software platform helping you manage content management, eCommerce, marketing, and other services. Some like to think about a DXP as a CMS on steroids. It's the whole package, helping your provide a complete digital journey across channels and devices.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery refers to the art of preserving and maintaining your IT infrastructure when things suddenly go south. There could be numerous reasons for a IT disaster, such as political reasons or natural disasters.

Ecommerce Integration

E-commerce integration means connecting different parts of an online store, like inventory, payments, and shipping, so they work together smoothly, making it easier to manage and improve the shopping experience for customers.

Extensibility

Most likely, companies want to expand their websites to reach more potential. To ensure that this is done in the best way, the concept of Extensibility becomes relevant. It can be seen as the capability and quality of growing your website or web system. You want to make sure your systems are highly extensible in an early phase, to maximize a confident and high quality website or system.

Flexibility

Ah yes, Flexibility. It's a word you hear all the time about when it comes to CMS's. It refers to the level of content modeling, customization of, let's say content, and integration with other systems. When you can do these things with your CMS without things going wrong, you have a flexible website. In a headless CMS architecture you usually have a higher opportunity to deliver flexible sites.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation, and it's a a law designed to protect the privacy and personal data of individuals within the European Union. It establishes guidelines for how organizations collect, process, and store personal data, requiring transparency, consent, and security measures to ensure data privacy rights are upheld.

GraphQL

It's a query language developed originally for Facebook. It allows clients to request only the data they need from a server, which can help reduce over-fetching and under-fetching of data. This way, faster and more efficient application can be built. GraphQL is usually a part of headless CMS technology.

Headless CMS

Ah yes, the reason you may be here in the first place. To put it simple, a headless Content Management System is a little different from a traditional CMS since it decouples the content management backend from the frontend presentation layer, allowing for greater flexibility, scalability and customization features on your website. Migrating to a headless CMS architecture, you ensure a future-ready website that is highly competitive among other websites.

Hybrid Cloud

In a hybrid cloud, both public and private clouds are utilized to leverage the benefits of each. The approach enables organizations to optimize their IT infrastructure, balancing the need for security and control with the advantages of scalability and flexibility which are offered by the public cloud.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a cloud computing model where virtualized computing resources like servers and storage are rented from a provider over the internet. Doing so, it allows businesses to scale their IT infrastructure without managing physical hardware.

Interoperability

Another buzzword is interoperability, which refers to programs being able to exchange information with each other.

Jamstack

One of our favourites, Jamstack, is a modern web development architecture. It's more of an ecosystem where you can choose your preferred technology and frameworks in your stack. You need a headless CMS, web framework, and a deployment platform to start with. The "Jam" abbreviation stands for Javascript, API's, and Markup. Jamstack sites are considerably faster, more scalable and just so much better than old, monolithic websites.

Localization

In software, localization refers to adapting software to local culture and language. Let's say you have a business that becomes successful all over the world. You create a website for that but soon realize that to reach all potential you need to adapt the contents of the sites to various languages and cultures. This is where localization comes handy, when your website adapts to end-users language and culture.

Loosely Coupled

Loose coupling is a technique frequently utilized in enterprise networks and systems. You want loosely coupled system to mitigate the risks that can be present in highly dependent systems. When the components of a system are loosely coupled, it is less likely that the system will experience performance issues, even if it has several components.

Low Code

Low-code is a trending concept in software development that uses a visual approach to facilitate faster delivery of applications. The main idea is that minimal hand-coding is required to do things.

MACH (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, Headless)

MACH is another trending concept of a web architecture, utilizing best of breed technologies to deliver really good websites. Many are migrating to MACH to enjoy a future-ready, progressive web architecture that gives them a competitive advantage in the market. It enables the creation of dynamic, omnichannel experiences that can adapt to evolving business needs and technological advancements.

Microcopy

This one is more about the UI/UX field but. microcopies are the small snippers of text or copy used throughout the website, application or other system which guide, instruct, and clarify things for the end-user. It's crucial in maintaining a great user experience such as establish clear navigation paths, eliminate confusion and to provide reassurance for the users.

Microservices

Microservices are a collection of small, independent services that work together to fulfill specific functions in a website or system. Doing so, can give more freedom and benefits to developers. For instance, code can be updated with less hazzle, since you don't have to tinker with the whole stack.

Monolithic

Monolithic, or Monolithic architecture is the traditional way of doing websites. You can think about people living in ancient times, some of them built houses of a single rock, or a tree. Exactly the same principle rules in software development, everything is composed in a single page.

No Code

This sounds fantastic, right? In No Code platforms you can create software applications just through graphical user interfaces and configuration instead of writing code.

Page-based CMS vs Content-centric CMS

A page-based CMS revolves around creating and managing content in individual web pages. They are often based on templates and page builders. An example is Wordpress. Then, Content-centric CMS's prioritize managing content as modular, reusable units, it's a more modern approach to CMS's management. Examples are Sanity.io and DatoCMS.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Platform as a Service is a cloud based service, comprising a scalable platform for development, deployment, or management. It enables developers to get all the essential tools they need to develop software, websites, or other.

Presentation Layer

This is a term you encounter a lot when it comes to CMS's., and that's why we want to include it. The Presentation Layer is essentially a synonym to the frontend, or User Interface. It's displaying all the visual information the end-user can see when exploring a website.

Progressive Web App (PWA)

Progressive Web Apps are simply just application software delivered through the web. Think of Spotify or Netflix for example, you may visit one of the sites through your browser, and they may just look like ordinary websites. Essentially they are applications, just running on a browser.

Rest API

In a headless CMS, Rest API (Representational State Transfer Application Programming Interface) is a function enabling content to become visible to user.

Scalability

This is a trendy buzzword that you may feel like you don't stop hearing. Think about when your website grows and expands. New users come in, and you want to make sure everyone is accommodated on your site, without any problems. This is where Scalability comes in, you want to ensure that the site remains capable of accommodating rising numbers of user, customers, or requests, regardless of the business's size.

Schema (or Schema Markup)

Simply put, Schema markup is a language that help search engines recognizes your website content easier. For example, you may have some visual elements with text on your website that a human can make easily sense of, but on the other hand are too advanced for search engines to comprehend. That's where creating schema markup comes handy, it's a logic that explains your content to search engines and therefore makes your website rank better.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Holistically, Search Engine Marketing refers to the process of doing whatever that promotes and makes your website rank better in search engine results. It's pretty much the same as Search Engine Optimization, but in this case, both organic and paid methods of rising your traffic counts.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This practice is very much the same as the above, but you are primarily focusing on driving organic traffic into your website doing Search Engine Optimization.

Serverless

Serverless means that those developing or running a website or app doesn't need to tinker with servers and backend infrastructure. It doesn't mean that no servers exists doing so, because that would be impossible, there's just a cloud provider that takes care of your server.

Server-Side Rendering

Server Side Rendering refers to your website, application or other web based system to be completely rendered on a vendor's server. This is typical for traditional CMS's. When a user goes to a web page, the server retrieves the content from the CMS, generates the HTML, and sends it to the user's browser for display.

Single Page App (SPA)

A Single Page Application is a website, application or other web based service that is displayed on one page only, or at least it appears so for the user. Think about e-mail or streaming platforms, it's all in there, and you don't have to load or navigate to new sites within the website. It can come handy in creating a seamless user experience.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a service is a licensing and delivery model, providing a software service to the user over the internet.

Static Site Generator

This thing is somewhat same as Server Side Rendering, but the main difference is that in this case, the content on the site is pre-generated, allowing for a remarkably faster access to the website and its content, which may lead to a higher satisfaction in user-experience.

Traditional CMS

These are Content Management Systems like WordPress and Drupal. Unlike headless CMS's, they are monolithic, meaning the user interface/presentation layer is tightly coupled with the CMS. They are often based on templates and plugins, but can be harder to maintain from a developer's perspective.

UI/UX (User Interface/User Experience)

User Interface and User Experience are two aspects of design, appearing on websites, apps, or other digital products. UI focuses on the visual aspects that is visible to the naked eye, while user experience refers to the logic and overall experience the customer gets from your site or product.

Version Control

Imagine you do a complete overhaul on your website design, you soon realize that the old version performed better in, let's say, website traffic. Now you want to resort to the old version again. Your CMS should have tools that enable you to track, manage, and revert builds of your website version.

XML Sitemap

This comes handy in your marketing operations. An XML sitemap is a file that makes search engines find the essential information your website. It speeds up the discovery of your website content.

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