7 benefits of a headless CMS architecture

In today’s digital landscape, businesses are pressured to deliver omnichannel customer experiences and be active within different websites, apps, voice assistants, and even augmented reality. This set of expectations has put a new demand on how content should be managed digitally, leading web developers to choose a headless content management system (CMS).

A headless CMS may not be the best solution for every digital project; however, as it increasingly gains traction in the CMS ecosystem, it is a technology to watch out for.

What is a headless CMS?

A headless content management system is a back-end only framework storing raw content that can be published anywhere, using any front-end platform. Headless CMS architecture breaks up back-end functions like content creation, editing, and storage from front-end functions like presentation and delivery. In contrast to a traditional CMS, the front-end and back-end communicate together using an application programming interface (API).

When you decouple your content store or ‘body’ from its storefront or ‘head,’ it becomes a headless CMS.

Traditional CMS diagram
Headless CMS diagram

This might sound counterintuitive at first, but in reality headless CMS is a dynamic architecture that can help brands manage the number of technologies constantly emerging. Here’s our breakdown of the top 7 benefits headless CMS has to offer:

1. Compatibility

With a headless CMS, businesses can use any front-end tool they desire to deliver content. This means web developers can present innovative content beyond conventional websites and apps, instead reaching any digital channel imaginable from smartwatches to inside virtual reality headsets.

In an act to rebrand, Burger King installed digital menu boards across all its U.S restaurant locations. The attention grabbing boards were made possible due to a headless technology that can update menu items and pricing based on real-time inventory and advertisement priorities - ensuring an engaging dining experience. The board even goes as far as broadcasting weather updates and mentioning job openings.

Burger King's digital menu board in the U.S.A

2. Flexibility

While traditional CMS promises freedom, most developers find its architecture to be overtly restrictive. With a headless CMS, developers are released from back-end limitations and can integrate any codebase or programming language they prefer. By losing the head, they can build their intended UX using tools they know and love like JavaScript libraries.

Companies no longer need to hire a large and expensive team of knowledgeable developers who specialise in a specific content management system. While a degree of expertise is always required in back-end frameworks, it does not reach the intensity of a traditional CMS.

3. Future-Proof

If your business prioritises tech innovation then headless CMS is certainly for you. To future-proof decisions, many organisations are adopting headless architecture early and enjoying the long-term efficiencies of being ahead of the grain.

An API driven CMS is ready to support digital channels that will gain popularity in the future. IKEA is already pushing these limits by incorporating an innovative AR app into its mix. IKEA’s customers can use their smartphone camera to take a picture of a room in their home and select items from the furniture company’s catalog to see how they’ll fit and look.

4. Efficiency

The divorce between front-end and back-end systems decreases the reliance engineers have on each other. With a headless CMS, marketing teams can manage and evolve content without developers' constant help. Headless CMS could mean the difference between hours and seconds when it comes to simple content change requests.

Content authors have more control over the quality of their work and can easily personalise content to better engage with consumers without limited, inflexible template obligations. This is vital at a time where Google continues to prioritise site speed, time on site and most importantly site engagement within its algorithms. Using headless CMS and personalisation across all its touchpoints, Glossier has built an incredibly loyal community of beauty lovers.

For developers, headless CMS will mean less time spent on administration and more leanicy to focus time on innovative product development.

Time saving across departments not only translates to immediate cost-saving, but also to agile workflows.

5. Extra security

You don’t have to worry about all the additional security requirements that come along with a traditional CMS like Wordpress. The content made accessible via an API is often ‘read-only’ adding a much needed level of security. Even better, developers can hide that API behind one or more layers of code, protecting it from the vulnerability of attack.

6. Brand consistency

Brand consistency is a crucial part of any brand’s growth, but no matter how hard you try, using multiple content management platforms will always create inconsistencies.

Using different CMS architecture means dissimilarities between front and backends, each with its own coding language and preferred way of performing. This results in slightly different user experiences across touch points, regardless of whether brand guidelines were followed or not.

A headless CMS offers the ability to standardise the backend - the content repository - while leaving the front-end flexible to meet different business needs. When all content is unified in one system, companies have greater control over creating digitally experienced, brand-consistent sites.

7. Performance

A down web page can kill important leads and conversions, which is why many companies will do anything possible to optimise their digital performance. With headless, if the back-end CMS platform has any technical difficulties, it won’t compromise your website since the front-end and back-end are entirely decoupled.

For these reasons, our team of developers praise headless CMS. Clearly, when it comes to omnichannel digital marketing, a headless architecture is ideal for almost any touchpoint.

Read how our team produced a fast-loading and future-proof website for Baseball Australia using a headless CMS.

Not sure if you need a headless CMS?

Our expert team can help craft a digital strategy that is right for your business. Keep ahead of evolving trends and contact the Thirst Creative team to discuss a digital solution tailored to your brand.