Jordy van Raaij | 19 mei 2021
What possibilities are there?
A CMS is a closed environment in which you manage the content that can be seen on a website or other digital solution. Viewed traditionally, the CMS is seamlessly connected to the presentation layer. The back end and front end are interwoven if you like, so that a modification to the CMS is immediately visible to visitors.
But as well as the traditional CMS, you can now also opt for a headless CMS. This works somewhat differently.
What is a headless CMS?
With a headless CMS, the presentation layer is disconnected from the back end. The content is managed in an independent environment and is connected to the website by means of an API. So in fact you build a separate front end and then connect the CMS to this.
This provides a number of significant advantages:
- You can manage your content in one place and publish it on different channels.
- It is safer because the database is not directly accessible.
- It is future-proof. If you are not (or are no longer) satisfied with your CMS, you can move to another provider without too much fuss.
- More creative freedom because you are no longer bound to the standard solutions within your CMS. The front end can be constructed entirely how you want it and you can configure the CMS as you envisage it.
Eight situations in which headless is the best choice
It always depends on your specific objectives and wishes what the best CMS choice is. In the following situations, a headless CMS is the best choice:
1. You do not want to be bound to one total solution anymore
Many platforms profit from what is called the lock-in principle. The clients are tied into a single solution with their entire system. Examples of this are Sitecore and Hubspot.
Great as long as it works, but as soon as you want new functions, you need to pay. And if you want particular functions that are not possible within the system, there is nothing to do other than accept this, or carry out complex custom work. So, little flexibility and high costs.
With a headless CMS, you will not have this problem. If you are no longer satisfied with your CMS? Then you can just move to another provider. And if you want to link new services to your website, no one is going to stop you.
2. You want the right tool for the right job
A traditional CMS often grows out to the hub where all the software is combined. But a headless CMS is exactly what the abbreviation stands for: a system for managing your content. Nothing more and nothing less.
Further, you can just use the tools that you would like to use, rather than the standard solutions your CMS provides. You can use ActiveCampaign for e-mail marketing and Google Analytics for insights. You just connect these directly to your front end without the intervention of your CMS.
3. You want to publish content multichannel from one place
With a headless CMS, you manage all your content in one environment. This can then be loaded in simultaneously from different websites, apps and wearables. You therefore do not need to use a separate CMS for each channel, nor to add or edit content separately for each channel. This also has the advantage that no different versions of your content are created.
4. You want to integrate with other connections easily
The linking of software by means of APIs is very simple and easy to manage. Moreover, you can connect your existing software more easily in a headless solution than in a traditional architecture. Consider here the linking of an existing CRM or ERP system. A traditional CMS would need a specific plug-in for this, or require complex custom work. With a headless architecture, you tie the APIs together just like that.
5. You want to be able to anticipate new technological developments quickly
Do you have your eye on a new marketing automation tool that you would like to use? Or would you like to employ the latest developments in the field of mobile VR? With a standard CMS, the question is, when will your provider make this connection possible? With a headless CMS you can just integrate it into your front end right away, and there you are!
6. You want a lot of freedom in the (UX) design of your digital platform
With a headless CMS, the front end is a blank canvas. You yourself define entirely how you design front end, because the content in the API does not determine the layout. In this way, designers and UX people have more creative freedom to design the user experience. This is in contrast to a traditional CMS, where the existing layout affects the final presentation and user experience.
A good example of this is furniture brand Pode’s website, for which we have created a premium brand experience. Thanks to the headless approach, we had plenty of freedom allowing us to create flowing transitions between different pages, various scroll effects and intuitive animations for example, without compromising the speed of the site.
7. You want new developments quickly
Because the setup is a good deal pared-down compared to a traditional setup, you can make modifications and introduce developments more quickly. New functions can be added rapidly (in the future).
8. You want ‘clean code’ under the bonnet
With a traditional CMS, you seldom use all the functions and possibilities. But all that code is loaded anyway! Moreover, plugins do not link together seamlessly, meaning you inject a lot of overlap and superfluous code into your website. With a headless CMS, you do not have this problem. The code your project consists of is also the code you actually need, and no more. The code is as clean as you yourself make it.
Are there any disadvantages?
Of course there are some disadvantages to the use of a headless CMS. For example, your marketers will have to learn to work with different systems. But when you use the right tool for the right job, you do use tools that excel in what they do.
Further, the initial costs to construct a website or app are usually somewhat higher with a headless CMS. After all, more custom work is involved. But maintenance and subscription costs do come out rather lower.
Need help to choose?
Do you recognise the situations above? Are you keen to find out whether your organisation or project could benefit from a headless CMS? Then do please contact us! We will be glad to help you make the right choice.