Headless CMS is a frequently used expression in recent years. It’s one of the most googled tech-related keywords, especially in the US. According to a survey conducted by Forrester’s, more than 70% of North American companies are currently employing or planning to employ more flexible and modern content management systems, such as headless CMS. Let’s discover these innovative tools.

What’s a Headless CMS?

First of all, what’s a CMS? CMS stands for for Content Management System, namely a platform (or device) enabling to post and modify content on Web sites without the need to tinker with server-side code.

Headless? Like without a head? Yes, you got it right! Think about Halloween and… No, we’re joking! It has nothing to do with the US holiday. The name stems from the fact that this kind of CMS is not directly tied to a user-interface and it focuses on back-end technology and APIs. The main headless CMS task is creating and publishing content to multiple devices.

Headless CMS provides content managers with the tools they need to create and publish content to various digital products. In addition, headless CMS enables developer teams to quickly build complex and scalable infrastructures and back end services, and to use available APIs and SDKs to get the content they need, freeing much more time to develop UIs and high-end experiences using their favorite technology stack.

In the picture above, we’ve illustrated this concept. Thanks to its headless structure, with this new breed of CMS’s you can create and publish content without coding the back end from scratch, creating a custom CMS or managing the server infrastructure. Content is then published to any digital device using APIs and SDKs, making it easier for the brand to come up with an holistic omni-channel strategy.

What’s exactly the difference between a headless CMS and a traditional one, such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and the like?

Headless CMS vs. traditional CMS

The main difference between traditional and headless CMS lies right behind their structure. Traditional CMS is defined as monolithic because the platform managing content is directly linked with the interface enabling users to access contents. In other words, back-end and front-end layers are inextricably bound. Functionalities, design-related features (such as media) and content are all managed by the back end – which, in turn, is directly linked to the front end.

By contrast, in headless CMS’s, front end and back end are completely detached. They behave as two independent layers. The content you create and publish from the CMS is then distributed through APIs, which are then used by front-end developers to retrieve it and display it.

There are plenty of advantages of using headless CMS, yet they aren’t suitable for each and every project. We’re going to outline some of them below.

Why should I use a Headless CMS?

So, what are the main benefits of using an API-based headless CMS? Here are some examples:

  • it supports multi-channel strategies, allowing to use the same cloud platform to manage any digital product provided by a brand;
  • It makes the content manager’s life easier, because they don’t have to switch between different CMS’s to update the contents of all the brand’s digital properties;
  • it enables teams to reduce development time by 80%. This makes it an excellent tool to quickly launch campaigns, develop prototypes or organize time-limited initiatives;
  • it is safer than a traditional CMS, because the front-end layer is separate from the back-end;
  • it reduces back end development time and allows developers to create beautiful customized interfaces, allowing them to use their favorite technology stack.

There are multiple fields of application for headless CMS. It’s currently employed by many brands to power multi-platform e-commerce businesses, websites, web applications, mobile products, smart TVs, led walls, IoT devices, and any other devices connected to the internet and able to consume APIs. In spite of all these advantages, headless CMS is not suitable for all projects. Stay tuned for our next article in which we’re going to dig deeper and discover some pros and cons of using this new technology.