Almost every site with text is based on some kind of Content Management System - whether it's an information site, a blog, or a shop, but it doesn’t mean the CMS landscape is set in stone. On the contrary; to resonate with omnichannel-implied demands, CMSs - like many software products - lost their “heads”, and decoupled units. Read the article, in which we explained the reason to be of Headless CMSs, and pointed out the differences between headless and traditional ones.
In terms of terminology, headless software is software that has no graphical user interface. The "head" we get rid of is the outer layer of the presentation, the frontend. What remains is the backend, which serves as a repository for information. In such software, the communication between the visual and inside the system occurs via an API.
Headless CMS vs. traditional CMS
Traditional CMS (e.g., Wordpress) consists of:
- database (where content is stored),
- an admin panel for managing content,
- a visual layer that presents information from the database using frontend technologies,
- a page rendering engine that brings these three elements together.
Headless CMSs have only:
- a database for storing content
- an API with access to HTTP queries
- an admin panel.
A decoupled (headless) content management system provides administrators with an interface for managing content and programmers with an API for creating applications. Its key advantage is the free choice of frontend technologies by programmers due to the absence of a graphical interface. Yet, there are more.
What are the main advantages of headless CMS?
Headless CMS significantly facilitates and optimizes work both in terms of content administration, for content managers and marketers, but also for programming teams.
People responsible for content management can make the necessary changes without interfering with the current appearance of the website. Headless Content Management Systems use so-called containers, where specific actions are grouped. Simply put, it can be said that content managers have pre-defined containers for content (that can be customized by them within some limits), and therefore it does not affect the work of developers. It is useful especially in complex projects where all content is created from scratch.
Moreover, marketers can push their content beyond web and mobile applications, to reach consumers on whatever touchpoints and easily test out alternative channels, in search of ways to increase conversion. Due to the rising cost of PPC advertising, it is a great way to reduce such expenses as it helps to implement content-based strategies that bring organic traffic. In turn, the improved user experience will certainly translate into better conversions.
Headless CMS provides an environment where content can be replicated and adapted for any channel and any device. It removes the unnecessary duplication of content and keeps branding and messaging consistent across channels.
The headless CMS system offers a great deal of freedom in choosing the technology in which programmers want to work as predefined templates do not limit their possibilities. Developers can also create any flexible views themselves and retrieve data via API.
In addition, changes to the content served and changes to the functionality of the decoupled CMS itself can be made simultaneously on multiple channels, different systems, and devices much faster than in traditional CMS systems. While processing the delivery of content from one place, namely a CMS, allows it to be quickly updated wherever it was used and add another device on which the content will appear. It means that a particular article or information about a particular product can be used on a website, a blog, or a mobile app, or wherever. Moreover, with the help of different APIs, you can collect data from many sources, send it to the CMS for analysis, and then send it back to numerous channels.
The headless CMS provides more security for the applications built on it. Open source libraries are popping up more and more on the web, but they are not as popular as Wordpress, for example, which greatly reduces the possibility of hacking. An additional practice that increases the stability and security of these applications is placing the frontend and backend parts on different servers.
In Headless Content Management, you can use the browser's memory to run certain functions and scripts. Thanks to this, you can reduce the number of queries to the database and prepare the visual layer so that it overlays the content on the page.
Do you need a headless CMS?
Headless CMS is a great solution for organizations that have an organized structure of information presentation, know what they want to show on the web, and want to promote their products and content across multiple devices and channels.
Omnichannel strategy requires all sales channels to work together to provide a consistent shopping experience. However, with the traditional approach based on the interdependence of frontend and backend, synchronizing different sales channels is a pain.
With headless CMS, you can serve all current and future communication channels with the customer. Content displayed on each device can be customized independently, and updates to UI do not require changes to the backend of the application. This allows for incredible flexibility and increases the possibilities when it comes to implementing new, innovative solutions by content managers. In addition, marketing, and eCommerce managers have the ability to create unique UX for customers in less time than the traditional model.
It is also possible to create custom frontend layers tailored to different sales channels. This gives the opportunity to quickly and easily reach new customer touchpoints and maintain a consistent brand image.
Choosing the best headless CMS
The choice of content management system is very important in the context of changing trends in content as a service approach, increasing number of communication channels with the customer and expected efficiency of solutions.
There are many decoupled CMS solutions on the market, such as.
Contentful is a headless CMS that works with all static page generators. It has an API that allows developers to manage, integrate, and deliver content to a variety of clients, devices, and platforms. It has a microservice structure, which means its architecture is scattered, and the failure of one element does not affect the operation of the entire website, but only a part of it. Contentful has a rich text interface, which means that the application allows you to prepare content, embed locations, data, and image files. Using Contentful doesn't just shorten enterprise development processes. What used to take days and require the work of a development team can be available in minutes and a few clicks after implementing this headless.
Netlify is a CMS for static page generators that is available under an open source license. Thanks to the use of Netlify, even non-technical people can create faster and more flexible websites with much greater potential for scalability. The content of a project created with Netlify headless CMS is stored in the Git repository along with the code. This allows for easier version control and programming by multiple people for a project. With React.js, you can extend Netlify CMS to create custom components for single-page applications and leverage the power of complex APIs.
Amplience is an API-first, headless content management system dedicated to both B2C and B2B commerce companies. It is used by enterprises such as Crate & Barrel, Tumi, Traeger Grills, Argos, OTTO Group, Primark, and Very Group, who appreciate its simplicity combined with powerful possibilities.
Storyblok is a headless Content Management System that gives content creators with no coding skills the ability to work independently of a developer. It allows users to manage the content not only on the website but also on other platforms such as iOS and Android apps, IoT platforms, and even AR and VR through an API.
Contentstack is a CMS that enable the companies brands to deliver an integrated and continuous omnichannel digital experience across all touchpoints and devices. It is easy to integrate with your any external technologies without being bound to built-in preset tools.
An e-commerce focused headless CMS which combines a clean and intuitive content editing experience with an integrated set of personalisation, planning and visual preview tools. It enables businesses of all sizes to effortlessly plan, schedule and personalise content across multiple channels from a centralised content hub.
Real-Case Use Case of Headless CMS
An example of using a headless content management system is Bang & Olufsen, a manufacturer of luxury audio equipment.
The brand decided to move from a monolith to a microservice-based website and a headless approach for a complete omnichannel experience. They chose Contentful as their new CMS.
Thanks to this transformation, they can maintain a consistent UX across every communication and sales channel. This leads to a significant increase in conversion rates through faster page loading, more accurate search engine work or a reduction in abandoned carts.
Another case that uses headless CMS is Octapharma, a Swiss medical company. They are using Storyblok.
Octapharma launched its new global website as the central point of call for all target groups and audiences around the world.
In their case, the change from a traditional CMS to a headless system helped the company to maintain the same method of communication and branding on international markets, in particular, based on personalization and segmentation of recipients.
Another company that has decided to go headless is NELLY, Scandinavia's largest online fashion stores. With rapid changes and growing customers expectations, New agile systems were needed so that NELLY teams could produce content at pace, without disrupting teams’ day-to-day activities.
NELLY chose Amplience to help them deliver an outstanding online experience.
To ensure all shoppers get the best experience, Amplience automates images, videos, and analytic workflows to create smart product pages. The best suitable format for each device is picked and automatically transcoded into the best file format for that device.
Thanks to the transition to Headless CMS, NELLY has the platform to exceed the high expectations of fast fashion shoppers through delivering better experiences, at speed, on every device.
Summary / TL:DR
- A so-called headless CMS is a software without a graphical user interface, where the communication between the inside of the overall system and its visual layer is done via an API
- By using the headless content management system, the efficiency of the application in terms of loading speed and UX is significantly increased compared to standard CMSs
- Headless CMS shortens the coding time, which translates into higher profitability of the project
- Decoupled CMS is an ideal tool for omnichannel strategy, which requires cooperation of all sales channels and provides a unified shopping experience