Is Headless CMS a Good Fit for Your Business?

First, a confession: Zibtek used WordPress for a number of our pages on our main marketing site for a long time (too long, as it turns out). My marketing team has recently seen the light and just switched to a headless CMS system after a gentle push from me.

Re-thinking CMS

WordPress had its advantages, and there is a reason we, like many businesses, stuck with it as long as we did. A basic CMS system, like Wordpress or Joomla, allows marketing teams to deploy their content from a single location easily and quickly. These CMS systems have all the images, code, and templates the team might need. But traditional CMS systems were built for a website-only era. They served their purpose and served it well, but their time is past (at least until they catch up).

Times have changed; well, mostly formats have changed for data consumption. And competition for the delivery of timed and targeted content has grown more appreciably than most firms will be able to adapt to in a short period of time.

Content published on the web needs to fit a variety of formats out of the gate and increasingly mold to screen sizes beyond the monitor or laptop display. Mobile phones, tablets, TVs, and headsets, all of varying sizes, allow content to be more quickly accessed. A new breed of CMS is required and, recently, has come about. Headless CMS systems allow for content delivery through any channel.

Headless CMS systems deliver content via an API, making content consumable on any channel and on any device. This means that your ‘website’ is truly written for any application, web, mobile or anything in between, and thus people who wish to consume it may leverage any tool or programming language and it will be presented in their desired format. The advantages of universally digestible information are the primary benefit and can’t be overstated.

Advantages of headless CMS

The benefits extend well beyond distribution and into the performance realm. Headless CMS systems are much more scalable and likely more secure than predecessors. API layers are fully decoupled from the CMS and allow different components of the architecture to leverage the benefits of the cloud.

For web applications coupled with their blogs, for example – where flexibility is needed for an application’s development and marketing teams-- a headless CMS allows teams to independently deploy changes and stay away from the heft of unnecessary features. The CMS can be decoupled from the front-end and APIs are used to make calls. This allows much faster deployment of marketing content without interfering with what your application development teams may be doing.

For our purposes, we’ve chosen an open-source option. We found that the flexibility of matching content delivery networks, hosting providers and our own blend of special code worked best for our needs. Those needs were, first and foremost, blazing-fast performance for our content.

The immediate benefits for our switch to a headless CMS were material. Below are two screenshots of the same pages and the same content. The only difference is the headless CMS that we implemented.

Without using a headless CMS

With a headless CMS: WOW – Much faster !

It doesn’t take a tech wizard to see that the performance difference is material in the eyes of Google and likely the thousands of people who read our blog.

Who is headless CMS for?

That answer depends on the person asking the question and their objectives.A large percentage of the internet is made of WordPress instances. Before I go any further, I should state that you can do a headless WordPress instance and it is free to use as it is also open-source.

For very small business, the extra work required to maintain a headless CMS over a WordPress instance is probably more than they should be taking on. The automatic updates and ease-of-use outweigh the benefits for most small businesses that are not as readily focused or have a need for top-of-the-line speed or quality.

But for those looking to truly compete the headless options available on the market are truly exceptional, if not the best option on the market. Any mid-sized businesses that want to compete needs to have the fastest, most secure and least number of publisher dependencies.

Use cases for headless CMS

As we’ve discussed, headless CMS may be overkill for your website or it might be a great fit for competing in the competitive digital space. Here are a few scenarios in which headless CMS offers unparalleled advantages:

  • Publishing on several different channels: when your content is going to mobile, website, print and/or an app, you need content to format correctly in many different media. Headless CMS offers the versatility to accommodate all these different channels with identical content.
  • Using a static site: Static sites are increasing in popularity due to their speed, security, and scalability. Headless CMS is a good fit for a static site, which does not rely on a database.
  • Aggregating content from multiple sources: Using several sources for content on your website can be managed through a headless CMS for seamless aggregation.
  • As more businesses adopt what’s called a Create Once Publish Everywhere (COPE), or the newest iteration the Create Anywhere Publish Everywhere (CAPE) strategy, headless CMS offers the ability to publish content in a wide range of platforms without technical issues.

Drawbacks of headless CMS

While the benefits of headless CMS are many and the possibilities may be a good fit for your business as it was for ours, there are technical challenges to consider before making a determination. Developers need extensive front-end experience with multiple codebases to handle the format. Because you can’t always get a preview of how your content will appear, your developers need to have front-end experience to anticipate potential challenges with delivery to various platforms.

If you’re still not sure if headless CMS is right for you, this website is a peerless resource guide for those looking to explore options available on the marketplace.