The Complete Guide to Headless CMS

The ins and outs to Headless CMS

Last Updated: Aug 1, 2022

A headless CMS is a content management system that does not require a full-stack web server. It separates the back-end or data storage functionality from the user interface or presentation layer. This makes it an attractive choice for web development projects that require more flexibility and agility than traditional CMSes can offer.

This page will walk through everything you need to know about content management systems and how headless CMSes could help your digital marketing efforts.

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

A content management system (CMS) is a software application or set of related programs that are used to create and manage digital content. A CMS allows non-technical users to make changes to a website or blog without needing to know how to code.

A CMS typically has two parts: a content management interface (CMI) and a content delivery application (CDA).

The CMI is the back-end where users can add, edit, and delete content. Think of this as the admin panel of a WordPress site. The CDA is the front-end where users can view the website or blog.

When a user makes changes to the content in the CMI, the CMS updates the content on the CDA automatically. This means that users can make changes to a website without needing to know how to code or hire a developer.

What Is Meant By a Headless CMS?

A headless 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 is not tied to any one particular output or delivery channel and instead focuses solely on managing and delivering content via APIs. This separation of concerns enables developers to build the front-end of their choice using any programming language or framework while still being able to take advantage of a powerful and feature-rich backend CMS.

Some of the benefits of using a headless CMS include:

- Greater flexibility and control over the front-end development process

- The ability to deliver content to any type of device or platform

- Easier integration with third-party applications and services

- A more modular and component-based approach to front-end development

If you're considering using a headless CMS for your next project, this guide will give you everything you need to know about this exciting new way of managing content.

What is the difference between CMS and headless CMS?

A coupled CMS is a traditional content management system that combines the CMI and CDA into one application. This means that the front-end and back-end of the CMS are tightly linked together.

A headless CMS is a back-end-only content management system that separates the CMI and CDA into two separate applications. This means that the front-end and back-end of the CMS are not linked together.

The main advantage of using a headless CMS is that it gives developers greater flexibility to build the front-end of their choice using any programming language or framework. This is because a headless CMS does not care about how the content is displayed, it only focuses on storing and delivering the content via an API.

Is Headless CMS Just an API?

The answer to this question is yes and no.

A headless CMS has all the capabilities necessary to create, store, and manage all of the content that you need. This all happens separately from the publishing and the actual front-end of your website.

The way that a headless CMS provides flexibility is by allowing you to publish the content that you manage to any front-end publisher that you choose. It does this by providing an API. The API is how the headless CMS transfers content to the front-end publisher.

While it is true that a headless CMS just provides an API, this API is essential for decoupling the backend from the frontend of your website.

How do I choose the right headless CMS for my project?

When choosing a headless CMS for your project, there are a few things you should take into account:

Pricing: Important to consider with any investment your business makes, you'll want to find a content management system that fits both your budget and needs.

Functionality: Each project is going to have different requirements. You'll want to make sure that the content management system you choose has the functionality required to complete your project.

User Experience: You'll want to make sure that the content management system you choose is easy to use, so you can focus on creating great content instead of struggling with the software. Another important factor to consider is who will be using the CMS? Will it be used by developers who can get into the code? Or will it be users without heavy tech knowledge?

Personalization: There are plenty of CMS options that claim to be customizable, but for marketers the key is personalization. This means that you can use target audience info to create a unique digital experience for each different buying persona you develop.

Scalability: As your business grows, you'll want a content management system that can grow with you. Make sure to choose a system that can handle an increase in traffic and content without breaking a sweat.

If you're looking for a more in-depth breakdown of how to choose the right headless CMS, take a look at this page to get you on the right track!

Headless CMS Examples

Now that you know what a headless CMS is and how to choose the right one for your project, let's take a look at some popular headless CMS options.

- Lumavate

- Strapi

- Sanity

- Contentful

Lumavate

Lumavate is an example of a headless CMS with a developed front-end infrastructure as well. This is because Lumavate was developed as a digital experience platform. The goal in mind was to give non-technical users all of the tools to build the digital experiences that they need without needing to worry about the code involved.

The beauty of Lumavate's design however is that you can decouple the backend from the front end at any time. So, if you need to change your front-end infrastructure, you can do so without affecting the backend. You can use any number of front-end options and connect to them with an API, this allows you to have complete control over your content and a wide array of publishing options.

If that wasn't good enough, Lumavate starts with a free plan for your first digital experiences which means that you can start designing today!

Strapi

Strapi is a headless CMS that is open-source, which means for limited use cases it is free. It's a great choice for small projects or projects on a tight budget. Strapi is written in Node.js and supports multiple programming languages. One downside of Strapi is that it is designed for a more technical audience. This means that if you're not comfortable with coding, you might find Strapi difficult to use.

Sanity

Sanity is a headless CMS that is both open-source and easily extensible. Sanity is designed for developers who want complete control over their content. Sanity provides a flexible data model that allows developers to define the structure of their content. This means that you can easily change the data model as your project grows and evolves.

Contentful

Contentful is a headless CMS that is both powerful and easy to use. Contentful provides a wide range of features, including an intuitive user interface, flexible content models, and delivery APIs. Contentful is a great choice for large projects or projects that require a lot of content. One downside of Contentful is that it is not free, it offers a free trial but after that, you will need to pay for a subscription.

All of the options have varying use cases and price points so be sure to research which one is the right choice for you. But if you are looking for a product with a wide variety of use cases, book a demo with Lumavate today to see if it is the right fit for you.

Is WordPress a Headless CMS?

While it is not the traditional use case, it is possible to use WordPress as a headless CMS.

If you have been using WordPress for a while and don't want to transfer your content you could continue to use WordPress as the backend. WordPress APIs allow you to connect your existing WordPress site to a new front end. This would give you the ability to use WordPress as a headless CMS.

Is AEM a Headless CMS?

Adobe Experience Manager is another example of a CMS that wasn't originally designed as a CMS but can be used with a separate front-end. AEM provides a wide range of features that make it a great choice for large projects. AEM also has an intuitive user interface and flexible content models. One downside of using AEM is that it can be expensive, as it is a paid CMS.

Legacy CMS Examples

Now that we've covered some of the most popular headless CMS systems, we should talk about the legacy CMS software that has dominated the industry for years. The three most popular options are:

- Drupal

- WordPress

- Joomla

Drupal

Like all of the other choices on this list, Drupal is an open-source CMS that allows you to easily create and manage your website's content. Drupal has a wide range of features, including an intuitive user interface, flexible content models, and delivery APIs. One downside of Drupal is that it can be difficult to use if you're not familiar with coding.

WordPress

WordPress has been the most popular CMS in the industry for years, it allows you to easily create and manage your website's content for free. WordPress has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for people with limited coding knowledge to launch sites (with a couple of youtube tutorials along the way). The main drawback of WordPress is that its functionality is limited without downloading different plugins for the use cases that you want to add to your site.

Joomla

Joomla is a web content management system (CMS) that lets you to quickly generate and manage your website's content. Joomla has a lot of features, including an easy-to-use user interface, adaptable content models, and delivery APIs. Joomla has one disadvantage: if you're unfamiliar with code, it might be difficult for you to use all of Joomla's features.

Which is the Best Headless CMS?

Now that we've looked at some of the most popular headless CMS systems, it's time to answer the question: what is the best headless CMS?

The answer to this question depends on your needs. If you are looking for a CMS with a wide range of features, book a demo with Lumavate today.

If you need a headless CMS for a large project, Adobe Experience Manager might be the right choice for you. It has a wide array of capabilities but it is a very expensive option for people who don't have thousands of dollars to spend on a Digital experience manager.

And if you're looking for a free option, WordPress is still the most popular choice in the industry.

While these systems don't offer the same level of flexibility as a headless CMS, they can still be a good option for certain projects. If you're working on a small project that doesn't require a lot of customization, then a coupled CMS might be a good option for you.

The main advantage of using a coupled CMS is that it can be easier to use and set up than a headless CMS. This is because the backend and frontend are already integrated, so you don't have to worry about connecting them yourself.

However, there are some disadvantages to using a coupled CMS as well. One of the biggest disadvantages is that it can be more difficult to scale a coupled CMS. This is because you can't easily decouple the backend from the frontend, so you would have to rewrite the entire system if you wanted to scale it.

Another disadvantage of using a coupled CMS is that it can be more expensive to develop. This is because you have to pay for both the backend and frontend development.

Is headless CMS better?

The answer to this question depends on your project. If you're working on a small project that doesn't require a lot of customization, then a traditional CMS might be a good option for you. However, if you're working on a large project that requires a lot of flexibility, then a headless CMS is probably a better option.

No matter what kind of project you're working on, Lumavate can help. We offer both headless and front-end CMS options, so we can help you find the right solution for your project. Contact us today to learn more!

Benefits of Headless CMS

There are many benefits to using a Headless CMS, some of which we have already covered on this page. However, we wanted to take a moment to go over some of the other benefits in more detail.

Scalability

One of the biggest benefits of using a headless CMS is that it can be very easy to scale. This is because you can easily decouple the backend from the frontend, so you can add more servers to the backend without having to rewrite the frontend.

Flexibility

Another benefit of using a headless CMS is that it can be very flexible. This is because you can choose any front-end publisher that you want, so you're not limited to the options that are available with a coupled CMS. You can even choose more than one and publish your content across several different frontend options.

Cost-Effective

Another benefit of using a headless CMS is that it can be less expensive to develop. This is because you don't have to pay for both the backend and frontend development.

Improved Time to Market

Another benefit of using a headless CMS is that it can help you improve your time to market. This is because you can develop the frontend and backend simultaneously, so you don't have to wait for the other one to be finished before you can start working on your project.

If you're interested in learning more about the benefits of using a headless CMS, contact Lumavate today. We can help you determine if a headless CMS is right for your project.

What is the Disadvantage of a Headless CMS?

There are some downsides to using a headless CMS as well, some of which we have already covered on this page. However, we wanted to take a moment to go over some of the other disadvantages in more detail.

Less Popular

One of the biggest disadvantages of using a headless CMS is that they are less popular. This means that there are fewer people who are familiar with them, which can make it more difficult to find help when you need it.

More Difficult to Set Up

Another disadvantage of using a headless CMS is that it can be more difficult to set up. This is because you have to connect the backend and frontend yourself, which can be a challenge if you're not familiar with how to do it.

Limited Functionality

Another disadvantage of using a headless CMS is that it can be limited in terms of functionality. This is because they only provide the content management system, so you would have to find other software to handle things like e-commerce or user management.

While these are the most common disadvantages to working with a headless CMS, these problems are non-existent working with Lumavate. With brand awareness, ease of use, and wide-ranging functionality, Lumavate has all advantages of a headless CMS with none of the current disadvantages.

What is the future of headless CMS?

The popularity of headless CMSes is on the rise, and it's only going to continue to grow in the coming years. This is because more and more businesses are realizing the benefits of using a headless CMS.

As more businesses adopt a headless approach, we can expect to see more headless CMSes popping up. We can also expect to see more features being added to existing headless CMSes.

Are you considering using a headless CMS for your next project? Contact Lumavate today to see if we are the right fit!

What is the difference between a CMS and a Digital Experience Platform?

You may have noticed the references throughout this page to Digital Experience Platforms. A digital experience platform (DXP) is a type of content management system (CMS) that includes additional features and functionality to help businesses manage their online presence. A DXP typically includes features such as e-commerce, marketing automation, and analytics.

While all DXPs include a CMS, not all CMSes are DXPs. A CMS is a type of software that helps businesses manage their digital content to populate a site, while a DXP is a more comprehensive platform that includes additional features and functionality to help businesses manage their online presence across all digital channels

How does Lumavate address your CMS needs as a DXP?

While it seems like you could use any old DXP and label it as your company's content management system, many of these DXP options brand themselves as an out-of-the-box solution but don't have the powerful features they promised. This is where Lumavate comes in as the best solution for your needs.

Lumavate is a low-code digital experience platform that offers all of the features and functionality you need to create amazing digital experiences, including a content management system. It lacks the problems other DXPs face by allowing you to connect your data to any product you choose instead of forcing you to use functionality that may not meet your needs.

With Lumavate, you can easily create and manage your content using our drag-and-drop interface. You can then publish your content to any channel that you choose. This allows you to rapidly deploy your content and make changes on the fly without having to rely on IT.

If you're looking for a comprehensive CMS that includes additional features and functionality to help manage your online presence, Lumavate is the right choice. With our drag-and-drop interface, you can easily create and manage your content, then publish it to any channel you choose. Contact us today to see how we can help you get started!

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