What is a Headless CMS
The term “headless” comes from the concept of separating the “head” of a CMS with the body, with the two connected through APIs.
In essence, the head is the presentation layer, so typically the frontend website templates, pages, and views, and the body is the backend content repository.
A headless CMS is focused on storing and delivering structured content. It also still allows content creators, marketers, and non-technical business users to create and manage content through an administration interface.
Headless vs Traditional CMS
While a headless CMS decouples the frontend and the backend, a traditional CMS is monolithic, and essentially an all-in-one option. These CMSs are more rigid in their architectural implementation, and quite often have a template-driven frontend, meaning users can create and manage content without much technical knowledge.
The evolution of the CMS
With the evolution of the internet came a rapidly growing adoption of and demand for dynamic content. Quickly, static HTML pages of old were not enough, with businesses requiring more leverage over their content.
Enter what we know now as monolithic CMS options. Popularized by the likes of WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, monolithic CMSs are an all-in-one option where the frontend and backend are delivered to the user in a tightly-coupled framework.
As mobile exploded as a platform especially,, and more and more content began to be consumed on handheld devices, many CMS options were forced to adapt.
While you can now access installed and cloud-based options, and many now offer different plugins, extensions and APIs, the increasing rise of numerous customer touchpoints - omnichannel experiences - has forced a need for a different kind of CMS. This is where headless CMS and more sophisticated MACH CMS architecture comes into play.
Advantages of a headless CMS
- Build personalised, immersive customer experiences
- Bring together best-in-class applications
- Lightning fast
- Ever evolving and flexible
- Designed to manage content across multiple channels and touchpoints
- Enhanced security
- Can use any framework you want
Advantages of a traditional CMS
- Is an all-in-one system
- Doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge (depending on your needs)
- Superior visual administration and content editors
- No (or lower) reliance on developers for updates
- Simple, easy to use templates
- Lower implementation costs
- Fast to implement
How to Evaluate a headless CMS
If you’re considering a headless CMS architecture for your business or are in the midst of an evaluation process, we’ve created an unbiased buyers guide to aid in your decision-making process.