When to Use a Headless CMS

Are you wondering if a headless content management system (CMS) would be a good fit for your business’ website? Use of a headless architecture has been growing in popularity over the last few years and there are real benefits that could be gained by setting your website (or app) up in this manner. Hear from Software Development Manager Andy Glassley on the topic in our Engage Aptera video and read on to see if a headless CMS could be a good fit for you.

What Is a CMS?

Before discussing headless content management systems, let’s take a step back and talk about what is in a traditional CMS. A traditional content management system features a tightly linked back end and front end. The back end has a user interface where non-technical users can create, manage, and store website content. It also includes a database where the digital assets are stored. The front end is how that content is displayed for users. The CMS pre-determines which programming language is used for the front end. Typically, traditional content management systems include templates, themes, and out of the box functionality to make building your front end as easy as possible, too. These features tightly bind the back and the front ends together.

What Is a Headless CMS?

A headless CMS decouples the back and front ends of your website. If the front end is the “head” of your site, a headless CMS cuts it off. This is not to say that your website no longer has a front end, but rather that the two are no longer tied. You can still use the back-end editor to create content, but the front-end display becomes technically agnostic.

With a headless CMS, the content is stored in a back-end database and sent to any type of front end via an API. This means your development team can develop the user-facing, front end of the website with any programming language they already use. Additionally, this lets you easily format your same content to appear in a tailored way on different browsers, mobile apps, or even watch or other IoT apps. This flexibility could also be helpful down the road, if new technologies or devices are created, your team could iterate quickly to create a new user interface.

Ultimately, a headless CMS set up gives your developers more flexibility over the front end of your website and makes it easier for your data to live in a multi-channel environment. It can also have SEO and other performance benefits, as it’s been developed specifically for each channel it appears in.

Should You Go Headless?

When deciding whether a headless CMS is a good choice for your business, you should consider the complexity of your website and the size of your development team. If your website is smaller and mainly text-based, a traditional CMS will still suit your needs very well. While a headless CMS will offer more front-end flexibility, since they don’t come with templates or other out of the box solutions, they require a higher initial investment and are recommended for companies with a team of developers to work on them.

Want to talk it over? The Aptera team can help you decide whether a traditional or a headless CMS would best suit your needs, reach out to us today to start a conversation.

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Nikki Dent

Nikki Dent

Nikki is a technical copywriter for Aptera. She has a Bachelor’s degree in writing from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind. In her role at Aptera, Nikki enjoys learning and writing about the technology and strategy at work across the company.

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