A lot is being said about headless versus traditional CMS and we wanted to share with you our view on when it makes total sense to loose your head and when it's better to have it tightly screwed on.
With a traditional CMS, also known as coupled or monolith CMS, a user enters his content in a back end interface. Thanks to the front end layer (i.e. technical code and style templates) this content can be shown on a web page.
A headless CMS on the other hand does not have this front end layer. In other words, it lacks a ‘head’. Such a CMS simply serves to manage the content and not how this content is used by the output channel. Users still enter their content in a back end interface.The front end layer (independent of the CMS) will call upon this content via APIs. These APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) allow any application in the front to retrieve content stored in the back. As such, content created in a headless CMS can easily be reused by multiple channels such as websites, apps, chatbots, smart watches, … This is not the case for a traditional CMS where back end and front end communicate in a very specific way that does not allow easy reuse in multiple channels.
Apart from a traditional and headless CMS, there is also a hybrid model between these two, a.k.a. a decoupled CMS.
This kind of CMS works with APIs to call the content, just like the headless CMS but unlike the latter, it also includes the front end layer to present the content on the web. While this type of CMS offers a more robust architecture then a traditional CMS due to the use of APIs, it does not allow to reap all benefits from a true headless CMS.
Seperating the front and back end offers companies a lot of flexibility:
It's clear to see that working with micro services and a headless CMS has many benefits. However, the complexity of integration makes it less suitable for simple projects such as the setup of a simple website. Same goes for projects starting from zero as the choice of services to integrate would already be too much of a challenge. In those cases, a traditional all-in-one CMS would be more suitable to get started.
Today, Oak Street identified 5 different use cases in which going headless makes sense :
In summary, loosing your head can totally make sense in some cases but having it tightly screwed onto your body can also makes sense in others. Want to know more about the added value of a headless CMS? We are happy to help!