The Future is Headless: Evolving CMS in Website Design

Over the last couple of decades, web development has experienced a technical and cultural ‘boom’ – and both designers and content managers need to stay on top of the latest trends and tools at their disposal. One such tool is headless CMS, which has grown exponentially in recent years.

At Creative Brand Design, we specialize in expert expert web design and development. We’ve seen many trends come and go, but headless CMS is here to stay. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at how we got here, and what headless CMS means for next-generation content management.

The early years of CMS

The first content management systems emerged during the 1990s, providing websites with a way to create more interesting content without sacrificing organisation.

Before the advent of the CMS, websites were created using HTML and uploaded to a chosen web server with FTP programs. This harmed creativity and efficiency, as well as facilitating errors.

This form of web design simply takes too long while producing a subpar end product. Both web design and content management suffered under these conditions, which is why we seldom look back on this era as one of beautiful, functional websites!

The 2000s saw a revolution in the development of the content management system (CMS). Companies such as WordPress offered CMS services which made customisation quick and simple.

While the development of the CMS helped fix many of the early issues web designers faced, they also strengthened a DIY approach to content management. This often removed the role of the web developer when updates to client content were required.

As demand for great websites grew, this represented a ‘win-win’ for both clients and web developers. CMS freed designers to focus on creating great websites and put the client in the driving seat of the daily management of their new site – all without them having to know a single line of code.

The growth of mobile

Emerging technology has galloped in the last ten years, with mobile traffic becoming more dominant. Instead of catering to a primarily static audience, websites now need to be able to function on a vast selection of screens, and understanding the needs of mobile web users is paramount to great web design.

Some of the problems faced by mobile web users were resolved through responsive web design, which emerged in 2010. This format allowed designers to create websites that suited both mobile devices and desktops. Yet today there are even more screen sizes and applications to cater for, each of which brings its own requirements to remain user-friendly.

What is Headless CMS?

Headless CMS is a content management system (CMS) developed to help provide an alternative to so-called ‘traditional’ content management systems.

Separating the front end and the back-end of the CMS system results in a ‘headless’ content management system, which provides content with an API. The API can be self-managed, managed or server-less/codeless. This new form of CMS derives the user experience from the technology the designer and client choose. It is regarded by many as a more flexible and adaptive solution, which can be utilised with many different applications and functions.

This is great news in the age of mobile browsing, providing user-friendly experiences for people viewing content on everything from a desktop PC to the latest iPhone.

What do I gain from going ‘headless’?

  • Many of the platforms through which content is consumed are now no longer defined as straightforward webpages. Instead, they branch into mobile applications, digital screens and signage. Headless CMS is ideal for all these scenarios.
  • Headless content management provides a back-end and a repository for content. It doesn’t provide scope for presenting the information – that is delivered by other systems of your choosing. This provides lots of flexibility.
  • This approach allows users to create content for multiple locations, using one centralised system, without confounding the end consumer. Headless CMS is the innovative choice for future-proof content management.

Do I lose anything from choosing headless CMS?

  • Headless CMS is a more complicated approach than traditional CMS, which provides your website with one straightforward system, connecting your content.
  • The pricing structure for headless CMS could also be more complicated. Traditional CMS usually features transparent pricing, since you only need to rely on one system.
  • Headless CMS is seldom billed as an entry-level offering. This is not a problem for clients working with highly skilled web developers and content managers but could be for those who aren’t sure not to implement it properly.

Considerations before going headless

Before making the switch to headless CMS, companies must carefully consider how and why you’ll be implementing this new methodology. The same ethos applies to developers discussing the topic with their clients. Ask yourself a few key questions, to ensure you’re making the right decision:

  1. Is my team ready for this development? If not, then focus on how you’ll be providing them with any additional training which may be required.
  2. Where will I host the front-end? If you’re unsure, do some digging before moving over to headless CMS. There are lots of great options available, and your web developer will be able to help.
  3. Do I need any additional resources? Think about whether your decision will require the use of new staff or maintenance strategies. If the answer is yes, then consider how you will make this happen.

Summary

Headless CMS is the future of content management. It provides all individuals involved in creating content a sophisticated and adaptive way to boost business channels. While barriers to entry exist, they can be navigated and overcome with the right guiding hand.

Overall, the benefits of switching far outweigh temporary upheaval. Switching to headless CMS is a fantastic way to future-proof your business while opening up new possibilities for content creation. As a bonus, you’ll be gaining a significant competitive advantage in the process.

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