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Headless CMS — Boye & Co Interviews Petr Palas

Headless CMS has seen a growing popularity in the past years, mostly driven by developers and customers unsatisfied with their existing digital platforms.

While it is often sold on the premise of many advantages to developers, business users tend to struggle to make the shift to a new paradigm. In a recent CMS Expert session, Petr Palas from Kentico took a look at the most common reasons why headless CMS adoption fails and how to overcome them.

Below you can find a summary from the call. Towards the end, I’ve collected a few relevant links on headless and Kentico. Finally, you can find the slides and the entire recording from the call. Let’s start with looking at headless, what it really means, and try to understand the problem.

Headless has Become Both Popular and Misunderstood

In brief, headless is essentially an implementation of the old holy grail of separating content from design and the advantages the come from that, including easier content re-use, cross-platform, personalisation, and more. A headless CMS means that the actual delivery of content, also known as the presentation layer, happens separately. 

To get us started, Petr shared the below cartoon, which illustrates the classical dilemma with different stakeholders and different requirements.

As Petr mentioned, adoption has been driven by developers, while adoption by business users has been less satisfactory. He elaborated by saying how a different mindset is required to reap the benefits of headless.

One example of a mindset change is from the traditional content tree known in many digital platforms to a content listing. 

Finally, he shared this somewhat controversial vendor quote:

Failed CMS projects are mostly poor implementation and less so poor CMS

He was quick to say that, as a vendor, he is naturally biased, but I would tend to agree with him. More on my take further down, but let’s move onto the hurdles.

What are the Five Hurdles to Headless CMS Adoption?

If you go through the slides or the recording (both shared further down), you’ll see more on the hurdles to headless CMS adoption.

Here’s the list with my brief take on each:

  1. Not involving your content team early on. Involving the editors too late is a recipe for trouble. 
  2. Ignoring your content lifecycle. Many fall into the trap of being overly focused on content creation and not the other proper steps for content management like analysing, optimising, and having a content calendar
  3. Skipping proper content modelling. This is in particular important in headless as you are beyond the page metaphor
  4. Trying to be 100% channel-agnostic. You can take this too far, and it will bring you a few additional benefits at a high cost
  5. Reliance on developers. As always: Start small, be pragmatic, and avoid over-engineering. 

The Big Picture and Our Take on Headless

The jury is still out on whether headless is actually a good thing or not, and this has been one of the big discussions in the past years. 

Clearly, headless vendors like Contentful, Contentstack, and Kontent from Kentico have impressive momentum, and there’s valuable innovation happening. Just in recent years, we’ve seen progress when it comes to long-unsolved problems like accessibility and performance, and I partially give credit to the headless momentum for making it happen. 

It’s also quite helpful to hear from experienced software vendors like Petr Palas from Kentico, who sees beyond the software and looks towards successful implementations.  

As a customer, you’ll need to navigate carefully as you make key technology decisions, and as always, the recommendation is that you build your own expertise and digital skills along the way. I can think of only one marketplace that’s more confusing and crowded than the market for headless CMS, and that’s the market for headless CMS agencies. Here you’ll really need to stay on your feet to find the best possible team to support you.

Learn More about the Headless Trend


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