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A Headless CMS vs Traditional CMS Case Study

There are several benefits to using a headless CMS architecture

DevHoot

You are probably experienced with Wordpress and may be you tried a free version of Headless CMS. Maybe not.

Wordpress is a great tool and if you are mainly building blog-like-looking websites, then you are probably fine.

But if you are like the author of this article, you might feel that your recent projects push the limits of your CMS. In this case, it might be the time to start learning more about Headless solutions.

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By the time you’re finished reading this article, you will be able to understand what a Headless CMS is, how it is different from Traditional CMS and what are the benefits of switching to Headless CMS. We will use Wordpress and Agility CMS as examples.

So here you go, let’s start some serious learning!

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Let’s first understand, for the final time, what a Traditional & Headless CMS is.

What is Traditional CMS?

In a Traditional CMS, the website (head) is connected to the content.
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What is Headless CMS?

Contrary to a traditional CMS, a headless CMS is entirely decoupled from the presentation layer/frontend, which in this case is the “head”, and the backend is your content repository or known as the “body”. When you separate your content repository “body” from its presentation layer “head,” it becomes a headless CMS. traditional cms devhoot

There are several benefits to using a headless CMS architecture.

Benefits of Headless CMS

Below, we highlight and explain the top ten benefits.

1. Headless CMS is easier, faster, and more flexible to develop on

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Not only are you able to pick your programming language, a headless CMS is API driven so you can build your “head” (presentation layer/frontend) end to end. Your developers can develop the way they’re used to without having to conform to any proprietary development constraints. A single content item can be reused and combined with several different presentation outputs, allowing for projects to be completed faster.

A headless CMS allows easy and secure integrations with any of your existing systems. This includes the use of webhooks. A webhook is user-defined by an HTTP callback (or small code snippets linked to a web application) which trigger action specific events.

A prime example of a webhook is triggering an email to your user once they have paid for a subscription on your site. Another benefit is not having a fixed structure to develop or code. This allows your developers to build any code for any type of integration. Not only will your developer love the flexibility it gives them just from a resourcing side but to integrate with systems that are more complex to integrate with.

2. Developers and Content Creators / Editors can work simultaneously and independently

Ever felt like your marketing team or client can not wait to start working on content, product descriptions, landing page messaging, and they are waiting for you and nagging you every day?

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A headless CMS is a dream come true for developers. Developers can continue to build websites or mobile applications using any programming language with their favourite tools, frameworks, and own development processes while still allowing full control over the application lifecycle without having to interfere with any CMS code.

Not just that, but developers and editors can also work better together. Editors no longer have to rely heavily on developers to build pages with a custom layout. This promotes an agile way of working, which for projects can mean being finished a lot faster!

The result is that not only will the time-to-market be diminished but also a single content item can be reused and combined with a number of different presentations. Developers and editors will be able to work much better together as well rather than in a silo.

3. Easy Integration

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A headless CMS allows easy and secure integrations with any of your existing systems. A developer can code in any preferred language while allowing to use the programming language of the other platform that is being integrated into the CMS.

Not having a fixed structure to develop or code in allows your developers to build any code for any type of integration. Allowing this type of flexibility makes it easier not just from a resourcing side but to integrate with systems that are more complex to integrate with.

4. Better Content Architecture & Ease of Use

The ability to architect and manage your content without worrying about its delivery is a huge bonus with a headless CMS. Its ease of use allows developers to build out your content and interface for your front-end users without the complexities that come with it. Content editors can relate their content types in different ways, but the interface usability also allows them to manage their content however they’d like.

Also, because most headless systems are multi-tenant (which I’ll explain in more detail below), it’s always kept up to date with the most current trends, allowing organizations to be up to speed on the latest and greatest front-end experiences.

With a headless API, you can specify content types and fragments that you want to push to the device or touchpoint of your choice allowing omnichannel readiness through any digital touchpoint and at any given time. This means a headless CMS can provide content for display and use on any number and type of channels.

5. More Scalability

Architecting a content-first approach makes your system cleaner, more scalable and provides you with full control with how and where your content appears. You can host content anywhere, and this includes the use of static site generators (like using Gatsby JS for example) and other multi-server environments.

6. Future proof – You never need to build your website from scratch again.

Future-proofing is another significant benefit because you can easily integrate with new technology and innovations, especially when the industry is changing as often as it is. future proof devhoot

A headless CMS allows you to future proof your application by separating your presentation layer from your data and logic layer. It allows you to structure your content to make new projects easier for future proofing as well as when re-branding one or more channels, there are literally no technical changes required within the CMS. Developers adopt the headless CMS approach to the parts of their existing stack where it makes sense. They carve out pieces and use APIs to make it all work together.

Since the back-end and front-end are separated, if the back-end CMS platform has any performance issues or, simply, needs maintenance, it won’t create any downtime to your website. In addition to this, cloud scalability, higher security, performance, and low operating costs is another big advantage.

7. Headless CMS supports omni-channel architectures

Omnichannel can pose quite the challenge for marketers because they need to create iconic content that shines across all touchpoints. Instead of managing each channel separately, a headless CMS provides the ability to orchestrate a seamless experience that spans to all touchpoints maintaining consistency and relevance. These challenges are compounded by the rising number of digital touchpoints and languages marketers must update in such a short time span. A headless CMS removes those common barriers.

8. Headless CMS is more scalable

Since the back-end and front-end are separated, if the back-end CMS platform has any performance issues or needs maintenance, it won’t create any downtime to your website or compromise it’s performance. Your hosting options are unlimited with a headless CMS and deployment environments as well.

9. Headless CMS leads to better content architecture

A headless CMS provides a better content architecture. A headless CMS is typically architected so that the CMS platform and the published content are separated. There are a huge number of benefits to this, including:

  • Security:  Access to the CMS is restructured internally within the organization, while content that is published outside is either approved for public consumption or can be secured/encrypted as required.

  • Scalability:  Need to add more servers to prop up demand for a particular application? Simply spin up a new app server and point it to the content.

  • Availability:  Should the CMS application go offline, there’s no impact on the web applications.

10. Headless CMS allows for smaller, less specialized team

Companies no longer need large (and expensive) teams of specialist consultants who are knowledgeable in a particular CMS. Sure, some expertise is required, but not at the scale of a traditional CMS.

After the website is built, developers can train editors to create pages, add content, and edit content across the channels. Daunting editing tasks will never haunt the development team again.

Wordpress vs Agility CMS

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Now let’s take two leading CMSs and compare them side by side. We will compare Wordpress to Agility CMS.

Website vs No Website

In a headless CMS like Agility CMS, you start with the content and then send the content via headless API to any destination – website, mobile app, POS. The sky is your limit.

With Wordpress, which is a Traditional CMS product, the website is connected to the content. You go to the website in order to edit its content. This may seem like a good thing - it’s easy to find where to go to make changes - however, it does have a pretty big set of drawbacks. Mainly, it slows you down in the long run.

Let’s analyse two CMsS across these three parameters:

  • Speed of Implementation and Redesign
  • Performance and Reliability
  • Security

Speed of Implementation and Redesign

In a Traditional CMS setting, your website and your content are tightly coupled. They are linked in a way that means when you want to change your website front-end, you need to rebuild things from scratch.

Let’s face it. Things change. With Agility CMS, you never have to build a website from scratch. Your content is still nicely organized and can be sent to any destination. Using JAMStack you can replace only a few pages.

There are techniques that allow developers to get going with JAMStack on an existing site. We’re working with customers and partners who have large, monolithic websites. They are using JAMStack to selectively improve the more important sections of these sites on a page by page basis. You don’t have to rebuild your site from scratch if you don’t want to.

Because of Agility’s approach to Content Modelling and Page Management, developers can write more reusable code and give editors the power to maintain more control over the website.

Performance & Reliability

Also, as Wordpress sites age over time, they tend to get slower and slower. There’s a database you need to look after as well - there’s technical overhead. And a new version seems to come out really often, mostly to address security issues. There’s a huge plugin library, too, but you often find yourself in a situation where those plugins have security issues, or they don’t work well together.

When creating JAMStack sites using Agility CMS, they are statically generated, so they are incredibly fast. No web server needs to be scaled or maintained, and these static files can be delivered quickly over a global CDN - which means the response times are exceptionally quick. Further to that, JAMStack frameworks like Gatsby.js and Next.js are really good at bundling pages up into small chunks, so the actual files themselves are smaller and more responsive - everything just FEELS faster.

Because of Agility’s approach to Content Modelling and Page Management, developers can write more reusable code and give editors the power to maintain more control over the website.

Security

Since there’s no webserver delivering your static files, and nothing is being computed in order to deliver your web pages, JAMStack sites CMS are on a whole new level in terms of being secure. There simply isn’t an entry point for a hacker to attack, such as exists on traditional web servers.

Even better, things like distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks are much less of a problem, since most CDN services such as Azure, AWS, Cloudflare and Stackpath also include things like a web app firewall (WAF), making it much easier to thwart these attacks. JAMStack sets you up for success.

To sum up

Headless CMS means you build the Content Structures in one place and then use that content anywhere you need it.

What truly makes a headless CMS better than a traditional CMS is its content-first approach with full APIs to access and display content in any way desired. With this approach, a headless CMS enables you to author your content through the RESTful API and deliver that content wherever you need it. This way, your front end is not limited to websites – think of smart watch, mobile app, POS.

It means your content has a lot more value, since it can be used in more places. In addition, you can rebuild your website or your apps, and keep using the same content. It’s just a new front-end design. It puts you in a situation where your investment in your content has a lot more value.

That’s why more web developers are switching to headless offerings like Agility CMS.

You can start with trying Agility CMS for FREE here and follow their tutorial to spin off a JAMStack site.

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