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Taking a Critical Stance on Headless CMS

There has been a great deal written and discussed over the last couple of years about headless CMS; who should use it, how should it be used, and why you should use it. Our next podcast will focus solely on this question: are companies actually jumping on the bandwagon for the right reasons and switching to headless CMS solutions to better their businesses?

The interesting part? I don’t believe there is a clear-cut yes or no answer to this. Headless CMS is definitely part of the conversation, but adoption is based on an organization’s strategy. Every organization is unique, and the tools they choose are dependent on business goals, marketing goals, and the resources available. 

Taking a Critical Stance on Headless

The headless CMS is all about content-first and using APIs to build the front-end, channel specific application(s). While this provides plenty of flexibility for developers to use the technology of their choice, it significantly changes the way business users have become accustomed to working. Given the developer-centric focus of headless CMSs, it is no surprise that developers are the early adopters and drivers of using headless CMS solutions, but an organization will not find success unless business users buy-in as well.

Over the years, traditional CMSs have evolved to include features that developers and business users have come to expect. With headless CMS, many of these features are no longer available, and alternate solutions need to be found. Highlighted below are some of the key features that need to be considered as part of an organization's decision to ‘go headless’:

  • Preview – Because there is no presentation layer with headless CMSs, previewing pages is different. Typically a separate site will be created specifically to allow marketers and content administrators to preview the content.

  • Search – Most traditional CMSs provide built-in search features, but with a headless CMS, a search solution will have to be provided by a third-party.

  • Online Forms – headless CMSs don’t have form builders. For organizations that require the flexibility to create online forms without the need of developer assistance, a third-party solution will need to be used.

  • Authorization – While headless CMSs offer roles and permissions to control the content creation and approval process, securing content on the front-end will require custom development and tools.

  • Translations – Translation management is more challenging with a headless CMS.

  • Marketing – Traditional CMSs have evolved to include various marketing features such as email marketing, contact management, and personalization. Headless CMS solutions don’t provide these. They may be able to collect the data, but using the data to manage the digital experience is beyond a headless CMSs' capabilities.

A headless CMS is not a straight replacement for traditional CMS solutions. They are distinctly different approaches to content management. Moving to a headless solution will require a shift in the mindset of organizations, particularly those that are entrenched with their traditional CMS platform. Make sure you tune in to CMSC Media's February podcast "The Headless Movement" for more on this very timely and interesting topic.

Heather MacFayden

Heather MacFayden

Heather has been with Falcon-Software since its inception in 1993 (26 years). She currently serves as the Vice-President, the Director of Production, and as the company’s Senior CMS Analyst. Heather oversees all of Falcon-Software's production teams. From design, to development, and go live, Heather monitors the implementation pulse of the company.