Headless CMS – A new way to create a common source of content for multiple platforms.

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While traditional CMS has been a standard for a long time, we are witnessing a rise in companies adapting to Headless CMS due to the flexibility and scalability it offers in terms of data and information management. In this article, we shall discuss the difference between headless CMS and decoupled CMS and help you decide the best content management system for your business model.  

We live in an omnichannel world, where headless CMS has become one of the most essential pieces of technology. The content that you built for your website also needs to appear on different places like mobile apps, newsletters, websites, and needs to be integrated on various platforms. Managing a duplicate copy of your content is not just inefficient but also confusing.  

When you use a traditional CMS, you often come across a problem where to update content on one platform you will have to copy and paste your content in different systems. With the help of a headless CMS, you can update and push the changes to all the places from a centralised location. 

With that you get to have a central source of information for all your company’s content and digital assets. By managing one space on the cloud you can edit, update, publish, and manage your content without any hassle. 

Introduction to Headless CMS 

First, let’s discuss what traditional content management systems are, and what they are designed to do. Traditional CMS models like WordPress and Sitecore were designed to store and display information like text, images, and videos. The model has been around for almost a decade. In the early days of web development, this was enough. In fact, the traditional CMS model puts everything in the same box, whether it be content, images, HTML, JavaScript, or CSS. The content once uploaded to the database was only usable to the front-end attached to it.  

But today, we need content everywhere. As a startup, it is definitely understandable to find a solution that can use the same uploaded content and display it on multiple platforms like websites, mobile apps, tablets, and more. Traditional CMSes are only designed for accessing data on websites, and are designed to display data through web design and development frameworks. The same content cannot be used for any other platforms, unless a proper API is developed, which is time-consuming and cumbersome.   

The solution is Headless CMS. It’s a type of content management system that does not have or require a front-end to start with. All the content is sent to the presentation layer using an APIs and is displayed seamlessly across any type all kind of 

However, there are some traditional CMSes that offer a built in API that can be used to send or display content on different devices and platforms. These APIs are called headless because the presentation, where the content is displayed, is separated from the backend layer, where the data is uploaded and stored. However, this type of content management system does not solve a major problem which is the structuring of content which can be re-used across different platforms, devices, and channels. But if needed, you should choose to build a DXP instead of a Headless CMS.  

What is Headless CMS Exactly? 

To solve the problem of not being able to use content from one source, we can utilise what is now known as a headless content management system or headless CMS. With the help of a headless CMS system, you can choose the presentation layer that is perfect for your business and change it as per your requirement. One of the major benefits of headless Amos is that you don’t have to change the backend at all. with the help of APIs you can distribute your content to as many channels and platforms as you need.  

While the concept of headless architecture is very much similar to that of headless CMS, we see that the effectiveness is pumped in publishing dynamic content to a variety of platforms, channels, and devices is a kind of multi-channel solution for start-ups as well as enterprise level companies. While the content that is stored in a headless architecture is raw and unformatted, we can be assured that the final presentation where the content will be shown or present it is not defined by the front-end system. 

Technical Standpoint of Headless CMS 

From a technical point of view, when you use a headless CMS, you are simply calling an API which then renders the content within the codebase that your website uses instead of creating a perpetual relationship between content in code. In fact, many developers do find headless CMSes easier to maintain compared to a traditional CMS. One of the reasons the headless EMS is better is because it doesn’t require a host because the self-hosting options do not exist. There’s no need for the developer to worry about security or maintenance. Everything is maintained by the data host.  

Benefits of Headless CMS 

  1. Create a single headless content hub 
  2. collaborate simultaneously using your data 
  3. Make content reusable and accessible 
  4. Separate code from content 
  5. Build content experiences as per your requirement 
  6. Easy integration of content through APIs 
  7. Headless CMSes are easier to scale 
  8. A very low risk of DDoS attacks 
  9. One of the fastest ways to go to market with your product 

Pros of Headless CMS, Decoupled CMS, and Traditional CMS 

Headless CMS Traditional CMS Decoupled CMS 

Faster Content Delivery Offers better control over where the content is delivered and displayed Can be integrated with third party applications easily Developers can use their favourite programming tools and frameworks to display content.  It is future proof, and can be integrated easily with newer technologies and innovations.  

Traditional CMSes are simple, and preferable for text and image-based content.  Developers are designers are required to use the themes that are compatible with the CMS.  Ability to customize the front end, which is mostly connected to website design and development.  

Decoupled CMS is a combination of Traditional and Headless CMS It is easier to iterate and deploy for various environments.  Third party integrations are easier compared to traditional CMS.  Since content structure is predefined, dependency on IT dept is reduced.  Future proof, as it can be easily integrated and scaled with newer technologies.  

Headless CMS vs Decoupled CMS 

There are platforms out there in the market that offer headless CMS or decoupled CMS which operates through API connecting the separate presentation layer with the content repository. However, the biggest problem is not how the content is displayed but how the content is managed. The organisation of content in such a way that it can be reused across many different platforms is the goal here. Headless CMSes answer the question of how the content can be stored so that it doesn’t come in between different forms of applications. 

Content infrastructure vs Headless CMS 

Companies like Contentful offer content infrastructure which is also one of the types of content management systems. But it doesn’t take the traditional approach. Using content infrastructure, a content model or framework is used for organising different types of content. It also defines how each different type of content relates to each other. The benefit of using a content infrastructure is that the content model is custom built for every different organisation.  

The content creators don’t have to use a pre-programmed model for the delivery of content. Content infrastructure defines content model in such a way that it breaks down into individual elements, such as paragraphs, images, heading tags, descriptions, call to actions and much more. Each element can be particularly defined and related to other elements which creates a model that can be used for any kind of digital platform. 

Top Headless CMS in 2021 

In 2021, the demand for headless content management has moved beyond headless. Many brands these days customize their CMS systems according to the requirements of their business, users, and channels. Here is a list of all the best headless CMS options available in the market. These are recommended by G2Crowd, Gartner, and Forrester to assure you of their quality standards and long-term scalability.  

  1. ButterCMS 
  2. ContentStack 
  3. Contentful 
  4. dotCMS 
  5. Mura 
  6. Cockpit 
  7. CoreDNA 
  8. CraftCMS 
  9. Zesty 
  10. Directus 
  11. DatoCMS 
  12. GraphCMS 
  13. ComicJS 
  14. Kontent 
  15. Prismic 
  16. Bold 
  17. Sanity 
  18. Scrivito 
  19. Sitecore 
  20. DNN 
  21. Strapi 
  22. Solodev 
  23. AgilityCMS 
  24. Ingeniux 
  25. E-Spirit 
  26. Netlify 
  27. Liferay 
  28. Coremedia 
  29. Bloomreach 
  30. Crownpeak 
  31. MongoliaCMS 
  32. Sitefinity 
  33. EZ Platform 
  34. Episerver 

Is headless CMS just an API? 

One thing to remember is that a headless EMS is more than just an API. One of the important things to consider is that an API is a technology that can help one application request data from another application. In simpler terms an API is a programme that helps computer programmes interact and communicate with one another. 

In a headless CMS, content creation and management are the backend while the front end can be anything on any platform. With the help of APIs, headless CMSes deliver the content that is stored in the back end to the device or channel that asks for it. APIs are helpful because they provide a headless architecture which is ideal for content creators that need to channel content experiences across various customer touchpoints. 

We help startups and enterprises build mobile and web application using new headless CMS architecture like Strapi and Sitecore. With the help of readymade API systems that come with these CMSes, we have been able to reduce the time to deployment by 30%. Want to know more about how we can help you take the next step? Know more about us or get in touch with us directly.