Why a Headless CMS is Important

Chris Risner

O ne of the latest trends in the world of content management is known as a headless CMS. Also referred to as decoupled CMS, the content management system provides valuable benefits not obtained from the singular access point CMS application.

The utilization of a content management system (CMS) has proven vital in the continued development of data management for everything from Web developers to enterprise networks. Typically, a CMS managed the data through a single portal, where data is displayed through a very specific means. Using the software application, a user searches for information and recalls data through a linear approach. This requires the individual to go through the head of the CMS before navigating further into the content management system. However, one of the latest trends in the world of content management is known as a headless CMS. Also referred to as decoupled CMS, the content management system provides valuable benefits not obtained from the singular access point CMS application. Due to this, understanding why a headless CMS is important should prove enlightening for everyone from the IT department to the senior officers of an enterprise. 

The Problem with a Traditional CMS

The age old saying of “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” may seem to apply itself to a traditional content management system. With the right management application in place it can prove especially helpful in monitoring and maintaining data within an enterprise network. However, there are several substantial downfalls connected with the standard CMS. 

Both traditional and headless CMS provide a way to store data and a CRUD UI. However, the standard CMS provides a way to display data while the headless option offers an API to the data. In essence, the data in a traditional CMS can only be viewed in one way. A user performs a create, read, update and delete (CRUD) command when connected with the API, which then sends the information to the database. The database then sends the created, read, updated or deleted information back to the API, which is then displayed in a uniformed manor, regardless of the device accessing the information or the data in general. This singular method of viewing data significantly limits not only users within the network, but customers and clients attempting to access information. With the growing number of devices capable of accessing information from the API database, this singular viewership portal reduced functionality and the end-user experience. 

What is Headless CMS?

Whether referred to as decoupled CMS or headless CMS, the architecture behind this form of content management system has grown in popularity over the last several years due to the improved flexibility it provides not only designers but the end user. A traditional CMS uses a monolithic design, in which the information is tied tightly into the design itself. A headless CMS removes this connection between viewing and accessing the information, which opens up the content management system to a world of new potential. 

A headless CMS allows for several different presentation methods. It also makes information accessible through a Web based API and not just a network API. By utilizing this opportunity, users no longer need to remain connected to the internal network of an enterprise but can instead access the CMS through any Internet connection (this also opens it up to usability with cloud services). 

One of the main reasons why an IT department should consider migrating to a headless CMS is due to the viewership potential. While a traditional CMS regulates how the information is viewed, a decoupled CMS allows for disability through a wide range of devices and methods, including widgets, native applications, a website, mobile website, syndication partners and even digital billboards. Essentially, the information can be viewed anywhere and everywhere on nearly any device (CSS Tricks, 2016).

The Importance of Varying Viewership Opportunities

Up until 2007, nearly all Internet activity took place through a desktop or laptop computer. Outside of a handful of operating systems and a few Internet browsers, most information more or less appeared the same on every device. Due to this, having an individual display method did not prove all to detrimental. Outside of some basic scrolling of the mouse, everything would appear on every computer screen in a similar manor. 

With the release of the Apple iPhone in 2007, everything changed. Although it took a few years to catch up, nearly all major mobile technology developer had its own smartphone on the market. Even with a handful of mobile operating systems, each OS used a slightly different Internet browser, plug-ins and display tactics to connect users with the Internet. In 2017, most mobile users are on either iOS or Android, but there are varying screen sizes, Internet browsers and OS versions in play, each of which requires a slightly different methods for displaying information. A headless CMS makes producing content, accessing and viewing the information easier as it isn’t handcuffed to a specified formatting, but instead the flexible API allows for viewing through applications, smart devices and computers (BizTech, 2016). 

Why Should An Enterprise Consider a Decoupled CMS?

Moving from one content management system doesn’t happen overnight. The migration process can prove time consuming, not to mention there is an initial upfront cost to making this kind of a migration. However, even with the initial time and cost connected with it, an enterprise should consider taking advantage of a headless CMS. 

For starters, moving to a headless CMS helps to future proof a company’s website implementation. With the continued development of smart devices and more mobile designers entering the market on a regular basis, the need for open viewership is essential. As a traditional CMS does not provide this, the decoupled CMS becomes far more beneficial. 

The frontend developers within the network no longer need to spend a good portion of their time working on eliminating problems and connecting the structural elements with the backend. Instead, frontend developers can spend the majority of their time creating specific application tools in order to improve the experience of users on the website. 

By cutting out the frontend element associated with a traditional CMS, a user receives a more interactive experience. This is because the end user interacts with the backend system in real time, instead if through a delay as the user waits for the information to pass into the frontend. The removal of the frontend allows for more creativity within the website design while also streamlining the design process. Shredding the bulk of the frontend also helps boost load speed and connectivity, which is essential in preventing Web users from backing out of the website due to a slow load time.

With the implementation of a decoupled CMS, an enterprise will likely see an increase in its generated profits and bottomline off of the website, all thanks to the faster responding website and the improvement on the user’s experience. All of these are issues a traditional CMS is not able to correct (Hackernoon, 2017). 

Future proofing a content management system has the ability to cut expenses, improve productivity and make locating stored data faster and more effective. With the shift to headless CMS, all of this is possible. While a traditional content management still provides viable assistance in the right setting, growing companies with expansive networks should consider making the switch to a headless CMS. While it may take some careful planning and transitioning into the new management system, it will pay dividends for years to come. Please connect with us if our team can answer any questions about going headless.

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