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What's next in CMS land?


Content management system (CMS) provides users with a nice interface to update their website's content without consulting the development team. There has been a recent trendy word "headless CMS" which might sound brutal at first but is actually pretty awesome.

What is Headless CMS

Headless CMS or decoupled CMS is essentially a content management system that doesn't care about the front-end. Don't quote me on this, but I think all the SPA frameworks in JavaScript land actually pushed this change.

Headless CMS separates the concerns between the content themselves and the technologies used to present them. The only thing that the front-end needs to do is to send requests to an URL and parse the content in the response. The front-end could also sit in a browser, a native mobile app or even a smart TV app and they all consume from one source. When you update the source content, it's reflected everywhere.

This also means when you decide to change your design, the content is not changed, you just need to worry about the presentation layer. Vice-versa, when you upgrade your CMS, it doesn't (have to) break your front-end, which is nice.

When do you want to use Headless CMS

If it's all 🌈s and 🦄s, why isn't everybody using this headless approach yet?

The main reason is cost, if you're going headless, it means that most of the features provided by 3rd party plugins, may not work nicely with the CMS' built-in JSON API endpoints. This means rebuilding those features for the new architecture on both front-end and back-end, which can be much more costly than installing a plugin and have it show up in your themed Wordpress site with a couple of clicks.

If you do not have many special features, the transformation should be pretty simple, and you might wanna do a design refresh along the way. People at Cordelta Digital specialise in digital transformation, I'd recommend having a chat with them to see if this fits the needs of your organisation.

New CMS' to consider

There are quite a lot of options out there when it comes to headless CMS. If you're currently using WordPress or Drupal without a lot of custom plugins. It's worth looking into the API they have built-in: WP Rest API and Drupal JSONAPI

If you're intereseted in exploring with some of the other vendors built for headless architecture, here's an incomplete list of options:

Support for enterprise

Part of your decision-making process is going to be around support, you want your site to be stable, flexible and easy to manage. The presentation layer is somewhat safe comparing to the back-end, as it's being executed in the users' browser. The backend security is much more complex. That's why you really want to use a stable and secure backend system and keep them up-to-date. Some of the headless CMS providers such as Contentful eliminate this concern by providing the CMS as a SaaS offering.