Why just headless CMS isn’t enough

Updated: October 26, 2020

Learn how to choose the right headless content management system


Chances are, since you’re reading this article, you’re looking to update to a headless content management system. But which one should you choose? It can seem like the Wild West out there with several CMS vendors claiming to be the best.

Of course, not all headless CMS solutions are created equal. Their architectures can be as different as night and day. Some are built like Ferraris and others are built like mopeds. So it’s important to peek under the hood to make sure you’re getting the agility your organization needs to stay competitive now and into the future.

First, look for a CMS that’s API-first and cloud first

The advantages of API-first systems are well documented, so we’re not going to dive into them too deeply. In short, API-first systems are easier to use, more flexible, more adaptable, more cost-effective and deliver superior omnichannel experiences. Using a legacy CMS system with API plug-ins is like using a dial-up modem with cutting edge technology. It’s just not efficient.

Likewise, there are many reasons businesses are switching to cloud first systems. Chief among them are their unprecedented scalability and freedom from maintenance. Many traditional CMS companies offer managed hosting. But, that’s just a band-aid. If you want your headless system to be fully optimized for the cloud environment, a cloud native infrastructure is your best option.

Then, ask the headless CMS vendor the following 4 questions:

#1: How well does the CMS integrate with other technology?

Extensibility and connectivity are key with any CMS solution. You’ll want the flexibility to integrate with your technology stack and the ability to connect with new technologies as they become available. Contentful does precisely that thanks to powerful, configurable webhooks that make it possible to integrate with any API service you choose. In many instances, you can work with products currently in your tech stack, without having to write a single line of code.

#2: Does the CMS help structure content for better user experiences?

Headless systems decouple content from the front end, allowing you to manage content and presentation separately. Contentful’s content infrastructure goes beyond that by providing your content creators, designers and developers with the tools they need to deliver superior experiences, all along your user journeys.

Contentful’s content infrastructure is modular and organized, so users can easily reuse content and design elements to quickly create new pages and experiences across platforms. What’s more, Contentful promotes maximum creativity since your content doesn’t have to conform to rigid, pre-defined templates. You have the power to customize content models that fit your brand and your marketing needs.

#3: Is the CMS only for developers, or can editors and marketers use it too?

If you want to avoid the need for extensive training, you’ll want a CMS with a web app that’s intuitive enough for non-technical users. With Contentful, once your content model is set up, your editors and marketers will have access to our popular editorial web app that empowers them to update content, change layouts, and go live without having to run down the hall and ask for more updates from the developers.

Contentful’s content infrastructure is built for collaboration. The content exists on one hub, allowing editors, designers and developers to work simultaneously (similar to Google docs). As a result, you’ll avoid the bottlenecks associated with most CMS products.

#4: Does the CMS ensure rapid and reliable content delivery?

Consumers don’t have any patience. Bounce rates go up exponentially with every passing second. So it’s crucial your CMS can deliver content—even large media files—in a flash. Contentful uses multiple high-speed CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) that span the entire planet. So content is delivered rapidly, even to consumers in distant locations. Also, there are multiple layers of caching throughout the content infrastructure, so the CDNs won’t slow down when there’s high demand.

API-first? Check.

Cloud first? Check.

Flexible? Check.

Fast? Check.

Connected? Check.

Unified? Check.

Congratulations. Now that you’ve peeked under the hood, you’ve seen how Contentful’s content infrastructure goes above and beyond headless CMS offerings. To take Contentful for a spin, request a demo or start building free.

Interested in learning more?
Read our whitepaper, 10 critical questions to ask before selecting a CMS.
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