Headless CMS de-mystified
By Aatu Väisänen
19th September, 2022
Sounds scary, right? A CMS without a head - well, not exactly. Let us explain. A Headless Content Management System (Headless CMS) is software designed to edit and manage content.
However, compared to a traditional CMS such as WordPress - Headless CMSs don't provide any front-end for your content. Instead, they provide an API that you can use to create your own front-end with your framework of choice. This is typically referred to as decoupled architecture.
Here's when things might get a bit confusing if you're new to the Headless software.
Traditional CMS: You might be wondering, isn't it good to have a CMS that provides a front-end so it's packaged neatly into one bundle? Usually no, since this creates a situation where your CMS and front-end are not decoupled and instead are monolithic. This means your CMS and front-end are one and the same, creating many issues down the line. For example, if your monolithic CMS like WordPress were to deprecate, you'd have to rebuild your entire site (CMS AND front-end). With a Headless CMS, you could replace the deprecated parts without rebuilding your entire site...
Headless CMS: Headless CMSs don't care how you'll build 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), decoupling your content from your front-end.
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Why use a Headless CMS?
There are countless reasons why you should use a Headless CMS. One of the biggest advantages of using a Headless CMS is that you can manage all your company's data and assets in one place. You can then use them in every single application or use case your company has, whether they'd be websites, mobile applications, or billboard ads - anything!
Easier content management: Headless CMSs allow you to manage your company's content and assets all in one place. Headless CMSs allow you to use your assets and content anywhere instead of only using them on your website.
Use modern and fast front-end frameworks: By using a Headless CMS, you can use any front-end framework. This means you're no longer tied to PHP or WordPress and can use faster and better frameworks such as React or Next.js.
Security: Headless CMSs are more secure since decoupling brings an extra layer of security compared to a tightly coupled monolithic system. When you decouple your CMS from your frontend you can essentially remove the risk of someone hacking your CMS. Goodbye security risks!
Better editing experience: Let's be honest here; WordPress and other old CMSs are mostly bloated with unnecessary features. Headless CMS makes it easy to customize the content editing experience with 0% bloat in the UI. No more plugin notifications or hard-to-navigate UI. Headless CMSs are customized just for you.
Headless CMS for marketers
Headless CMSs provide a better experience for marketers with a lot of writing and content management.
If you're coming from something like WordPress, you know how much bloat there is and how that can negatively affect your content editing experience. Most Headless CMSs can be customized to fit any situation, and you can strip that nasty bloat from 3rd party plugins.
What Headless CMS options are there?
Currently, there are countless Headless CMSs to choose from. The market is quite saturated, and choosing the right headless CMS for your company's needs and requirements can be daunting. New headless and decoupled CMSs are emerging daily.
We have written an extensive and curated list of the best Headless CMS options. We recommend checking it out if you're having a hard time picking one (yeah, we know. It's really hard...).
Conclusion: Headless CMSs are the new standard for developing modern websites
Headless CMSs are a modern way to manage content and assets. They provide an easy way for content managers to manage content and assets. For technical people like developers and project managers, are easy to use and will make their job a LOT easier.
When you're designing your company's digital infrastructure, it is worth noting that using a Headless CMS instead of a traditional CMS can make your project and its upkeep a lot easier. Headless CMSs will significantly expand your website's lifespan and reduce the risk that you'd have to rebuild your site in a year or two.
As an agency in the working industry, we've seen firsthand how small to large companies are migrating to Headless CMSs - we urge you to do the same.
We're here for you if you need help understanding headless architecture or making sense of the different headless CMSs around. Contact us, and let's schedule a headless CMS consulting session.