The market for headless Content Management System (CMS) was valued at $328.5 million in 2019 which is projected to reach $1,628.6 million by 2027. With the growing prevalence of connected devices, or IoT (Internet of Things), headless CMS is becoming increasingly popular. It offers a great solution to developers to create and publish dynamic and innovative content to any type of platform.

Headless CMS front end development

A headless CMS is essentially a back-end only system that acts as a content repository. In this case, ‘headless’ refers to chopping the head (i.e., the front end or website) off from the ‘body’ (i.e., content repository). Since headless CMS has only one purpose – storing and delivering structured content; it does not take into account how and where your content gets displayed. In the last few years, headless CMSs or API-first CMSs has witnessed an upward tick in adoption rates. Its widespread popularity can be credited to the digitization around us in which these systems provide a centralized interface to manage content from.

What exactly is CMS?

A CMS assists users to create, manage, and modify content on a website without the need to have specialized technical expertise. With a CMS in place, you don’t have to worry about the basic infrastructure such as creating web pages, storing images and other similar functions.

A major advantage of CMS is that it leads to greater collaboration. Multiple users can log in to contribute and schedule content that needs to be published. As you don’t need the technical knowledge of building the website from scratch, it enables you to be more independent and less reliant on front-end engineers.

A move away from traditional CMS

Compared to headless CMS, traditional CMSs (E.g., Adobe Experience Manager, WordPress, and Sitecore) are software that you install and manage on your own or you get help from a managed server. In the traditional ones, your content is also closely linked to how your digital experience looks. In this case, developing content across different channels is a cumbersome process as your content remains the same. One way of solving this is to build a separate solution for each channel and then update each channel separately with the same content.

Traditional CMSs also have poor APIs which are unable to cope with today’s omnichannel demand. Furthermore, it limits creativity as there is a dependency on the layout templates which leads to standardized presentation and thereby inhibiting user experience. Even making small changes will require a complete re-do of the system which can be a time-taking as well as cost-intensive process for an enterprise.

Benefits of headless CMS

  • One of the advantage headless CMSs have over their traditional counterparts is that it does not have to deal with the rendering side of things. For traditional CMS architecture, you will have to spend resources on content editing and content rendering.
  • As headless CMSs are not tied to one single presentation, it is easier to find audience across multiple channels. You can use the software for both applications and websites. Additionally, you can manage your enterprise’ internal/admin related content.
  • Developers get the choice of choosing their front-end tooling as headless CMSs is served over APIs. Whether it be JavaScript, PHP, or Ruby, you can opt for your preferred method of work. It also gives you the flexibility of moving to another framework without affecting the CMS.

Which one should you opt for?

Here are the top three choices you should consider for headless CMS:

1. With clients like Nike, National Geographic and Sonos, is an industry-leading name in the headless CMS landscape. It provides developers with enhanced flexibility to customize the editing environment using JavaScript and React while easily integrating the backend with powerful APIs.

2. Magnolia: Magnolia made its foray into headless CMS long before its rise in popularity. What sets Magnolia apart is its ability to give editors benefits such as in-context editing, full preview, and personalisation.

3. Directus: This headless CMS is perfect for projects requiring customized databases. Directus makes it extremely easy to manage content with an interface that requires no technical training.

In conclusion

Headless content delivery has become an essential component of an omnichannel strategy. With advancement in digital technologies and proliferation of smart devices, headless CMS holds enormous potential for delivering a seamless and consistent user experience.