Why (and how) you should migrate to a headless CMS

Migration Headless CMS
August 11, 2022


Content is defining the landscape of digital transformation. It has become the cornerstone for marketers, sales personnel, communications experts, and anyone who wants to promote their products or services to their audience. But the concern usually boils down to if you are managing your content properly or not.

The unparalleled versatility of a headless content management system is the answer. But replatforming from a legacy CMS and "going headless" is markedly different than the old way of doing things. This post will outline the steps towards proper planning and correct implementation.

Let’s start with the success story of Atlassian. The software development giant specialises in project management tools and is frequently a standard-bearer for impeccable customer service. Behind the scenes, however, they weren't entirely satisfied with the way they were managing their content.

They required a system that would dynamize team collaboration, structure their content into reusable components, boost their external support services, and streamline localization. What was holding them back was a legacy system that was incapable of organizing a wide range of content across multiple products and consumers in the global market. As they would say, “scalability was at stake.” 

Moving their content management from a legacy architecture to a headless CMS was the obvious solution. The results were drastic as the organization witnessed a whopping 87% increased speed in managing, publishing, and marketing their content.

Headless CMS: A bespoke solution for omnichannel marketing

The concept of a decoupled architecture, especially for content management systems, is incredibly popular in the market. 

Increasing digital connectivity, the rise of multiple digital devices, and IoT are shaping our lives constantly, every day. Businesses have to find ways to connect with their customers and users through different devices. And the only way to do that, without repeated efforts, is by adopting a headless CMS. 

A headless CMS decreases the development costs, the time to market a product, and provides custom solutions to meet distinct business requirements. To everyone’s relief, it gives flexible controls for backend and frontend integrations, allowing you to make as many changes as you want to your frontend. 

A decoupled/headless CMS is a sure win for organizations dealing with an enormous amount of data that they need to promote on multiple channels, amongst a broad audience. Moreover, projections show that the tech is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 22.6% from 2020-2027, with a market value of $16.28 million by 2027. 

Keep in mind that headless technology demands innovation and a change of mindset. You cannot expect to work on a headless CMS by employing the same techniques you did with a legacy one. It all starts with the right implementation and proper planning, and we are here to guide you through it. 

#1. Redefine your content form and strategy

A headless CMS offers the opportunity to use reusable components across multiple platforms that can always be customized from time to time. This means there are more options to play around with for your content form, style, and strategy.

Before you jump into your content presentation, it is crucial to lay out a workable strategy.

  • What kind of content should you send across different channels?

  • Should you follow a similar format and style, or change it for the channels?

  • Do you want to stick to the old format you have, or change it occasionally based on events and promotions?

  • What kind of content would your audience prefer reading on different devices?

Answering these questions would allow managers to define their reusable components, set their time frame for events and activities, and ease the delivery process. 

Furthermore, since a headless CMS is a content-first management system, you won't have to worry about the code changes or changing your content format every time the site goes through modifications.

#2. Choose your tech wisely

Choosing the right tech stack would ultimately define the path your migration would take, and the long-term effects it would have on your business. As the definition of a headless CMS suggests, its isolated nature divides the frontend from the backend and connects it with an API. It allows content managers to focus more on the content instead of its servers and maintenance. 

Let’s divide each of these elements separately to analyze how they work to fit in together.

The backend: Your backend tech can either be CMS software or a development framework. Choosing the apt backend must be determined by the team you have and their expertise in managing and maintaining it. For instance, Contentful is an API-first content platform that can be used for your backend programming and functioning. Amongst all other solutions in the market, Contentful offers you greater flexibility and improved speed needed for your content’s time-to-market, without depending on additional tools or frameworks.

The API: For a headless CMS, an API is the connector that interprets the logic from the backend and communicates with the frontend layer. Amongst the popularly used APIs known for their speed and reliability, REST API and GraphQL make it to the cut-off. That’s not all! Combined with an HTTP client or gRPC, the API can deliver high efficiency and performance in delivering content to the frontend. 

The frontend: The frontend of your headless CMS system is the face of your business. It can be any modern framework that is easy to maintain and supports your business requirements. However, we have witnessed that JavaScript frameworks are the most popular for being the best ones to be utilized with a headless CMS.

To choose the proper frontend framework, you would have to consult with all the stakeholders to determine the best one that suits your needs. Then, check if your team members have the skills to manage that framework. Furthermore, consider the framework’s maturity, the scope for scalability, performance, and the ease of building complex components.

#3. Run a website crawler

While we dive into the migration process thinking about the technicalities and business benefits it can bring, we must not ignore or mishandle the existing content. While you are migrating a site, keep an eye on the URL structure and maintain its SEO metadata with the help of a web crawler. Keeping a tab on the crawler data would allow the team to maintain the same structure and ensure that no component harms the site’s ranking on the search results.  

Pre-migration stage: During the pre-migration state, website crawlers allow you to create a repository of your existing URLs, their status, create benchmarks, and let you know about the fixes you can make. Once the migration is done, the crawler data will help you redirect your URLs to a new site. 

Post-migration stage: Running a web crawler post-migration is mainly done to onboard the SEO and content team on the new site. Audit your pages to ensure that all the URLs and their on-page attributes are on par with the minimum expected standards. This is the stage where you also get to know if your site has issues like thin, blank, or duplicate pages. 

#4. Keep an eye on the metrics

Keeping a tab on all the requisite metrics will let you know your migration status, its implementation success, or if there are more modifications required. These metrics can even be in the form of KPIs to measure your goals and if you are on track. 

Here is a list of metrics you can track during the migration process:

  • Cloud-hosting capabilities

  • Backend resource consumption

  • Response time

  • Site or application performance

  • Deployment time

  • Loading time

  • Engagement rates during testing and post-migration

What are you waiting for?

Apart from the listed technical checklist, you would also want to get your attention on the non-technical aspects while migrating to a headless CMS. Planning with stakeholders, outlining a project plan, setting a timeline, and choosing the right team for the migration process are all a part of it that would aid you during the implementation process. 

Simform offers on-demand team development capabilities for those planning to take their business to a higher level. Our experience in enabling a headless CMSes makes us a top contributing software development company. Together with Contentful, you can launch your business faster, integrate tools of your choice, and manage your content across multiple platforms.

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