Headless is officially at a tipping point. There's a lot of discussion about whether headless is the right approach for content management systems (CMS) — and with an influx of options on the market, it can be hard to sift through the noise to know what's best for your business.
A quick headless CMS 101 ICYMI:
In case you missed it, headless software is software that is capable of separating the back-end from the front-end, offering a back-end only management system. Headless CMS makes content accessible via an API across devices, without mandating a specific front-end design layer. You may be familiar with traditional CMS (think: Wordpress, Adobe Experience Manager, or Drupal), which offer built-in templating and content storage. Headless offers the same storage, editing, and authoring capabilities but offload templating to a different framework via APIs. This allows your developers and designers much more flexibility in terms of how to best display your content, provide customized user experiences, and align with your brand.
Why use a headless CMS? Three reasons you'll want to switch
Before you read on, we'll come out and say it: we're big proponents of headless CMS at POWER SHIFTER. But we're not the kind to preach something without reason — we always want to put the user experience first. Innovation for innovation's sake alone is never a good enough reason to switch systems, and in some specific cases, a traditional solution will be the right choice for your business. The trick is to know what you're after, and to use Design Thinking to align on what will provide the simplest and most memorable experience for your end-user. In many cases, that will be a headless CMS.
1. Headless CMS offer more control over the user experience
A headless CMS facilitates a tailored user experience to a wide array of devices and platforms. This ensures users will always interact with content that is relevant and engaging from a single source of truth. This single source is a core tenant of headless CMS, and empowers teams to build messaging for omnichannel experiences. With headless CMS, teams are able to benefit from responsive content changes designed for optimal impact across channels.
2. Headless CMS offer more flexibility and scalability across platforms
A headless CMS provides businesses with more flexibility when it comes to choosing which devices or platforms they want to support. Thanks to APIs, there's no need to develop separate websites for each one. Businesses can pick and choose which ones they want to target, reducing the costs of developing unique websites. This increased agility can be a major advantage for businesses that need to be able to move quickly and adapt to changes in their industry or market.
Without being tied to a single technology stack, headless CMS allows you to more easily scale your website or application as needed. And because you can independently deploy your front-end and back-end code, you can get your site or app up and running faster.
3. Your developers will thank you
Headless content management systems enable developers to deploy progressive updates to an application independently of content changes. This autonomy can help improve the cadence of deployments and mitigate the risk involved with monolithic releases. Both developers and content editors will benefit from a more streamlined publishing workflow where content is optimized for reuse; duplicate or redundant content is lessened; and a single source of truth for content is shared across multiple channels.
Headless content services also have an exceptional open-source community, which offers a wide variety of plugins, SDKs, and code libraries. This means developers can get applications integrated quickly with the CMS of your choice. Headless is a safe bet for companies of all sizes, especially in instances where you're unsure of how your content needs will scale with time. A headless CMS is a smart way to future proof your content, from small businesses to enterprise.
4. Headless CMS offers increased security
Since all of your data is stored in one central location with a headless CMS, it's much easier to keep track of who has access to it and ensure that only authorized users can make changes. This increased security can be critical for businesses that deal with sensitive data or regulatory compliance issues. Headless CMS products offer state-of-the-art security measures, with all the latest features and certifications, to keep bad actors out of your data.
What are the drawbacks of going headless?
Of course, there are some drawbacks you may want to consider before switching to a headless CMS. First, you should be prepared to manage your content across multiple channels. With a traditional CMS interface, it can be easier to keep track of your content pieces and ensure consistency across channels, in part due to the templating framework. The trade-off here is that headless offers more flexibility to create an interface geared specifically to your users' needs and wants across specific channels.
What does this really mean for your teams? It means that going headless requires a commitment to a new way of thinking about and approaching your architecture. We live in a digital age where customization is expected, exceptional user experiences are key to your success, and more and more companies are taking advantage of API-driven CMS to change and evolve alongside the times. As long as your developer and editorial teams are prepared to put in the work to move away from traditional systems and approaches, you can create a content management workflow that benefits both your team and your customers.
So, what's the bottom line? Is a headless CMS right for you?
It depends. If you need maximum flexibility and scalability for your content management needs, then a headless system is definitely worth considering. However, if you prefer a more traditional approach or if you don't have the resources currently to effectively manage your content across multiple channels, then sticking with a traditional CMS might be a better option.
There's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to deciding whether or not to use a headless content management system. It ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Investing in figuring out the right system now will save you a costly change later — and allow you to start reaping the benefits of an improved user experience right away.