Headless CMS explained
A headless Content Management System (CMS) is a relatively new concept which decouples content from your display technology. This means that the same underlying content can be accessed and displayed across multiple platforms, while sitting in a single source. The CMS doesn’t care how the content is displayed, it leaves that up to your various delivery channels to determine.
In this blog, we explain what a headless CMS is, along with the display options it opens up across multiple platforms, when content is pulled from just one place. This is especially useful if you have more complex and high-frequency transaction operations across multiple touchpoints.
Then vs now
Currently, you may be using a CMS system which is directly connected to the front end of your website. If this is the case, the underlying content may frequently need to be replicated, eg one set for the website, another for point-of-sale, yet another for brochures, and so on.
It’s not difficult to see how this quickly becomes a versioning, messaging and consistency nightmare. When content is replicated across multiple locations, it quickly gets out of sync and is difficult and time consuming to keep up to date - not to mention frustrating.
With a headless CMS we now have the ability to hold content in one place, a central repository, and display the parts we need across lots of different digital channels. This means one space in which to create and edit content (no replicating and using out of date content) and the ability to push updates from one place to all the various front ends out there.
Manage content easily
Digital and physical channels are becoming increasingly blended. Headless CMS allows you to manage content across the following channels more easily:
- digital displays
- interactive signage
- salesperson-customer interaction via apps
- corporate website
- product/service specific websites
- web advertising embedded into third-party websites/applications
- mobile applications
- desktop applications
- smart TV applications
- syndication of content (providing your content for re-use via an API, eg. RSS)
- mailing list content
- print publications
If you’ve experienced fragmentation across these channels which is getting in the way of your digital strategy execution, then the idea of having the same content underpinning everything is likely to not only make sense, but also solves a real problem for content managers, which is maintaining consistency of content across multiple channels.
Superior customer experience
You can develop a superior customer experience across all channels with the right tools. Headless CMS can help you organise your content and focus on the customer experience across these multiple platforms, with the confidence that the messaging will be consistent, accurate and on-message (so much time is lost in organisations when they attempt to manage content across multiple, disparate systems.)
With a headless CMS you can create in-browser web apps which draw on your content. You can modernise your website without worrying about having to interfere with the CMS (most websites have the CMS coupled to the front-end, making changes difficult). And you can standardise skills sets instead of requiring expertise across multiple CMS’.
With that one back end behind everything, it also means there’s no need to keep up to speed with multiple systems to manage various applications, websites, mailing lists and more.
Based in our Wellington office, Darren is a senior CMS developer, specialising in SilverStripe and Common Web Platform (CWP) technologies.
Working with a wide variety of clients, Darren helps guide the selection of technologies and development of an array of web projects, from static websites through to complex, hi-frequency transactional web applications.