Headless CMS: A Brief Introduction

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by Mitch Tor | Last Updated: Jul 29, 2022

What is a Headless CMS?

A headless content management system (CMS) is a back-end only content management system (CMS) built from the ground up as a content repository that makes content accessible via an API for display on any device.

A headless CMS has no templating language of its own and therefore cannot be used to generate HTML pages for display in a web browser. The content is instead made available through an API (Application Programming Interface) for use on any front-end platform such as a website, mobile app, or smart device.

Why Use a Headless CMS?

There are many reasons why you might want to use a headless CMS.

A headless CMS is ideal for decoupled or multi-channel architectures where the same content needs to be published to multiple platforms such as a website, mobile app, or smart device. With a headless CMS, all you need to do is update the content in the back-end and the changes will be automatically pushed to all of the connected front-ends.

Another advantage of using a headless CMS is that it allows for much greater flexibility in terms of the technology stack that you can use on the front-end. With a traditional CMS, you are often limited to using the same technology stack as the CMS itself (e.g. PHP if you're using WordPress). But with a headless CMS, you can use any technology that you want on the front-end, whether it's JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, or anything else.

Finally, a headless CMS is also often much easier to scale than a traditional CMS. This is because the front-end and back-end are completely decoupled, so you can scale each one independently.

What is the difference between traditional CMS and Headless CMS?

The main difference between a traditional CMS and a headless CMS is that a traditional CMS is used to generate HTML pages for display in a web browser, while a headless CMS is used to create content that is accessible via an API for use on any front-end platform.

Another key difference is that a headless CMS is often much easier to scale than a traditional CMS since the front-end and back-end are decoupled.

Finally, a headless CMS also allows for much greater flexibility in terms of the technology stack that you can use on the front-end.

Headless CMS Examples

Now that we've talked about what a headless CMS is and why you might want to use one, let's take a look at some examples of a headless CMS.

Contentful

Contentful is a cloud-based headless CMS that offers a flexible content model and a powerful API. It's perfect for delivering content to any device, and it makes it easy to manage large volumes of content.

Prismic

Prismic is another popular headless CMS that offers a wide range of features and an easy-to-use interface.

Sanity

Sanity.io is a fully customizable headless CMS that gives you complete control over your data.

Lumavate

Lumavate is a digital experience platform but given its flexibility, it can function as a headless CMS.

How should you choose a Headless CMS?

Not all headless CMS are created equal. When choosing a headless CMS for your project, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.

Here are the main things to consider when deciding on a headless CMS:

Pricing: A headless CMS could have all of the perfect features but if it doesn't fall within your project's budget then it won't work. Figure out what you can afford and find some good options that work within that number.

Ease-of-use:  A headless CMS can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Consider how much time and effort you're willing to put into learning a new system and find a CMS that falls within that range. Another important factor is who it was designed for. Is it designed with an intuitive graphical user interface or does it rely on users having a development background.

Features: Not all CMS have the same features. Some are more basic while others offer a wide range of bells and whistles.

Service and Customer Support:   A CMS is only as good as the company that supports it. If you're going to be relying on a CMS for mission critical tasks then you need to make sure that the company has a good reputation for providing timely customer support.

Technology Stack: As we mentioned before, one of the advantages of using a headless CMS is that you're not tied to a specific technology stack. But that also means that you have to choose what technologies you want to use on the front-end. Do your research and make sure that the CMS you choose supports the technologies that you want to use.

Security: Make sure that the CMS you choose has a good reputation for security. This is especially important if you're going to be storing sensitive data in the CMS.

A headless CMS can be a great solution for projects that require a lot of flexibility in terms of technology stack or content delivery. When choosing a platform, there are a few things to keep in mind, such as pricing, ease-of-use, features, customer support, and security. Headless CMSes offer an intuitive interface and complete control over your content. They're perfect for delivering content to any device, and they make it easy to manage large volumes of content. Still have questions? Consider checking out our complete guide to a headless CMS.

If you want to start using a headless CMS today, book a demo with Lumavate. We can walk you through the options available to see if we are a good fit for your technical needs!

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