Overview: The Headless CMS Buyer's Guide

Adam Sturrock
August 20, 2020
3 mins

Why Use This Guide

The CMS market is crowded with hundreds of vendors all claiming to provide similar capabilities, functionality and benefits. So how do you choose which CMS is the right fit for your business, and perhaps more importantly today, how do you know if a headless CMS is right for you? There is no “best CMS” and therefore, when choosing a CMS, you should focus on matching your company’s specific requirements to each vendor’s product offering.

We’ve guided hundreds of businesses through the process of selecting the right CMS for them. Amplience was a fantastic fit for many of those companies, but we have also recommended some businesses towards some of our competitors when their focus has not been commerce centric. In those cases, another CMS was simply a better fit for their business needs and we were happy to point them in the right direction.

As a result of many customer conversations and RFPs, we’ve built up a really good sense for the key factors that help businesses navigate their CMS vendor evaluation and selection process. Your business will likely make trade-offs along the way that typically boil down to speed (time to market), control (flexibility) and budget (cost). To help with your evaluation process and navigate these tradeoffs, we have broken down the key areas to consider into four key categories and their sub-categories.

Basic Definitions

A Content Management System (CMS) is software that helps users create, manage, and modify content for a website or application without the need for specialized technical knowledge.

Headless is a technical term that describes the separation of the backend logic and storage from the frontend application or view, typically through APIs.

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are a computing interface which defines interactions between multiple software intermediaries. It defines the kinds of calls or requests that can be made, how to make them, the data formats that should be used, the conventions to follow, etc. It can also provide extension mechanisms so that users can extend existing functionality in various ways and to varying degrees.

A Content Repository is a database of digital content with an associated set of data management, search and access methods allowing application-independent access to the content. The content repository acts as the storage engine for a larger application such as a CMS.

A Headless CMS provides tooling that allows non-technical users to create, manage and modify content for a website or application. The frontend could be a website, mobile app or another smart device. A headless CMS provides APIs that connect the content repository with the frontend (head).

Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is an emerging category of enterprise software seeking to meet the needs of companies undergoing digital transformation, with the ultimate goal of providing better customer experiences. DXPs can be a single product, but are often a suite of products and services that work together.

Customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand as a whole throughout all aspects of the buyer’s journey, consisting of multiple smaller customer experiences, micro interactions and moments. It results in their view of your brand and impacts factors related to your bottom line including revenue.

The 4 Key Considerations When Selecting Your CMS

Technical Maturity

One of the first and most important considerations is to understand your company’s technical maturity or whether your business strategy requires you to mature along the technical maturity scale from where you are today.

CMS Architecture

It’s important to understand the different types of architectural principles that are available to your business. We’ve broken this down further into four key areas.

Business Requirements

The next key consideration you must make relates to understanding your business requirements and exact circumstances.

Commercial Models & Pricing

The last important consideration is to understand your budget and the different pricing models that vendors provide.

Download the Guide

To learn more about headless CMS and download the guide, click here!