Categories: cloud, CMS, Headless, software architecture

Headless CMS and why they should be on your radar in 2020

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Data is gold. This means it should be easy to access by all consumption methods. Companies are becoming more and more data-driven to gain a stronger competitive advantage. To help build this ecosystem, one logical step is adopting a Headless CMS system.

What is a headless CMS?

A headless CMS provides “content as a service” (CaaS) in a way that applications can consume such as JSON. It still manages content yet is not interested in how this content is being consumed. Thus the template and styles are not sent back from a headless CMS request for content.
Other forms of CMS are “traditional” and “git-based” but these are out the scope of this article.

Why should I use a Headless CMS?

Embracing this type of CMS brings many advantages such as:

  • Improving Design & Development Flexibility
  • Providing True Multi-Channel Support
  • Providing a decoupled architecture
  • Integration into a data-driven environment that data scientists can even consume!
  • Reduced responsibility due to Headless CMS providers offering their solution as a SaaS (Software as a service) product

These advantages are those over using a traditional CMS. Tight coupling exists from a traditional CMS which makes extensibility harder.

How might the end architecture look like with a headless CMS for my website?

desired headless architecture
A sample architecture using a Headless CMS 

Leveraging this architecture increases site speed and reduces deployment time/responsibility

How can I adopt a Headless CMS?

It is important to note that adopting this type of CMS needs based on business and IT requirements. To differentiate between the two here are a few examples:

Business

  • I should be able to upload a variety of file types to embed into my page
  • I should be able to assign roles to users

IT

  • I should be able to separate areas of concern to increase speed
  • If one system fails then the other should still function

Adopting a Headless CMS requires an incremental approach which involves:

  1. Deciding if Headless will bring Short, Medium & Long term benefits
  2. Shortlisting a list of vendors to deep dive into
  3. Testing these solutions from a development and business user perspective
  4. Contacting each vendor to gain further insights and answer key questions around pricing

Content modeling is important when it comes to selecting a Headless CMS. Headless is flexible thus it requires the proper set up to serve clients. Some headless providers help provide a base content model structure over others. This in itself brings advantages and disadvantages.

Here are some examples of content modeling from different Headless CMS providers:

https://www.contentful.com/r/knowledgebase/content-modelling-basics/

https://docs.kontent.ai/tutorials/set-up-projects/define-content-models/content-modeling-101

https://buttercms.com/blog/references-powerful-content-modeling-for-any-use-case

Headless is more flexible, powerful and versatile that decoupled – you’d have to look long and hard to find a roadblock you can’t overcome in headless

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Conclusion

Headless CMS systems are definitely worth looking into. It involves vendor selection, content modeling and an application that consumes it. The business can be happy with more frequent releases & fewer areas to break websites. IT is happier with developers being independent of historic CMS templating. Also with the separation of concerns.

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