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How a headless CMS helps your business grow

Headless CMSes are touted as an evolutionary step in managing and distributing content. Many businesses are gradually making the switch to both Headless CMS and Static Site Generators like Gridsome, Nuxt or Next.

For many other businesses the question is How do they work, and can they help your business scale?

In this post, we’ll look into and answer these questions and more.

What is a traditional CMS?

Content Management Systems (CMS) have become fairly common. You’ve probably already interacted with the likes of WordPress and Drupal. Here, the backend is tightly coupled with the frontend. This is why you’ll also hear them being called Coupled CMS. The layout is simple, as well as the general functionality of the site, since there is no API (Application Programming Interface) needed between the front and back-ends to handle their communication. So, if you’re dealing with a typical blog or simple marketing site, then the traditional CMS will suffice.

But in the IoT (Internet of Things) era, there is a growing need to deliver content across multiple devices simultaneously while still improving user experience. This is especially for business hosting multiple sites, apps, and even single page applications (SPAs). That’s where the headless CMS approach comes in.

What is a headless CMS

We have previously discussed what is a headless CMS but we’ll elaborate a little further here.

If we think about the Traditional CMS as a Body and the Presentation layer such as the templates and front-end framework, would be the Head. Take this off, and you have a headless CMS.

So here you have a platform that lacks the default front-end system i.e., website, that dictates the presentation of the content to the end-user. Instead, the raw content can be published through any framework.

Content Management Systems have always been about making the delivery of content more efficient for its creators so that they wouldn’t have to deal with the code. As such, the traditional CMSes feature “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) editing, like previewing tools. Chopping off the head takes away these features, but opens you up to numerous new benefits.

The headless CMS thus becomes a data source just for content, which can be pushed through as many heads as desired – whether it’s a website, billboard, mobile apps, or even smartwatch. It does this by responding to API calls to deliver seamless display across the different devices.

Headless CMS Vs. Traditional CMS

The very structure of the traditional CMS is to enable the content creators publish their images and text onto webpages. The database of the CMS is integrated with the presentation layers so that content creators would have to deal with the HTML or FTP (File Transfer Protocol). There are also systems that come with plugins which enable the site’s users to share the content on different devices. However, the coupled nature of this CMS limits the scalability of the systems, and also tends to be more vulnerable due to the security risks that come with having a single front end.

With the headless CMS, emphasis is on the content repository. The CMS will store the content data, but this won’t get displayed like the traditional CMS. The benefit here is that it allows for more flexibility for the web developers, as they will be able to use the preferred programming languages and design tools without being tied to a single source. That way, the content can be simultaneously published on multiple platforms, while remaining responsive on the user’s device. So, while the traditional CMS limits you on the kinds of devices that you can use and has a linear workflow, for the headless CMS the content can be viewed across unlimited types of devices, and it has an agile workflow.

What Are Decoupled CMSes?

You’ll see these pop up when headless CMSes are being discussed. While they feature similar attributes, they are not the same. They aim to leverage on the flexibility that comes with the headless CMS, but also the ease-of-use that is common with the traditional CMS – making them a hybrid of sorts.

As such, the decoupled CMS will have the API delivery and database that’s with the headless CMS, but also give the content creator a formatted version of the content. What’s the catch? In spite of having the website rendering capacity of the traditional CMS, the APIs of the decoupled CMS are influenced heavily by the models which have been designed for a single website, restricting the flexibility of the platforms that the content can be suitably published on.

Pros And Cons Of Headless CMS

With a headless CMS, the editors get an interface through which they manage the content; and this is then availed to developers through APIs which they can query and use to build applications.


Content can be delivered seamlessly across multiple devices and platforms.

This increases the audience that can be reached across the different channels. Through the headless CMS, you get to manage content for the different presentation devices and platforms – including apps and websites, as well as the internal and admin features from the same place.

Greater flexibility for the web developers

With the developers getting the content from APIs, they can work with their preferred front-end tools. From opting between JavaScript, Ruby or PHP, to interchanging stack components, and even completely migrating between different frameworks without the CMS being affected – there is more legroom to manoeuvre.

Increased scalability for your content

Since the content can be managed from a single source of truth, while the developer tools can be changed as needed. The content can also be sent to cloud-based hosting services to leverage on their performance. Moreover, the APIs can be accessed by both existing and future software and devices – from mobile and smartwatches, to VR headsets and IoT devices. This technically makes your content "future-proof" as you won’t need to keep redoing it with every new technology trend that emerges.

Easier management of the backend system

Many of the headless CMSes are available as Software as a Service (SaaS). Here the editors access the web application, with a cloud-based backend handling the hosting of the APIs. There are also those that allow you to host the entire system on your own database and server – and in this case you will be responsible for the operations and scaling.

Improved security

Security is also more assured since the API is usually read-only, making it less vulnerable to cyberattacks. This is further enhanced by the presentation layer being separate from the admin portion of the headless CMS, which is typically hosted on a different server and domain. You can even have the API placed behind an additional application or security layer, further reducing vulnerability to malicious hackers.

Enhanced ability to improve user experience

Since the content can be published on any channel or device through API calls, the front end-developers get to work with their preferred tools and frameworks to optimise customer experience. In addition, data such as end-user preference and activities can be sent through the APIs back to the CMS, and this can then be analysed.

Templates, themes and similar front end tools are not needed

Without having to spend resources on content rendering, the content creators will be able to edit their work faster. Developers also get to make changes to the frontend without their actions impacting the backend.


Handling the CMS is more complex compared to the traditional CMS

The team using it will need to improve their skills and knowledgebase to adapt to the setup.

Content creators work without content visualisation tools

Without conventional concepts like pages and sitemaps when creating and editing content, they will also need to adapt to the content organization for the channels that will be used. However, since you won’t need to create material in different backend/admin panels when publishing the same content across multiple channels, it comes off as more convenient from a content management point of view.

More expenses go into setting up and managing the CMS infrastructure

Without the front end, more resources will be needed for the developers to create the presentation end.


It ultimately boils down to the customer experience, and they’ll benefit greatly from you implementing a headless CMS system. You get to deliver your content as needed through an API on the different customer touch-points – without having to rewrite content or reprogram as these touch-points change across devices and evolve with the IoT. You will be in a position to publish your content faster, remaining relevant to your audience and streamlining your messaging.