Headless CMS and APIs

As you evaluate your options in search of the best content management system (CMS) for your business, you’ll likely hear the terms ‘headless’ or ‘decoupled’ a few times. But unless you’re a developer or have a technical background, these concepts can be a bit tricky to understand.

The Challenge

In today’s digital-first world, virtually every brand needs a quality website and an easy-to-use mobile app if they want to retain their customers and keep up with the competition.

A multi-channel approach is essential these days because the modern user is interacting with brands and services across multiple devices all the time, demanding a seamless, consistent experience every step of the way.

But a common trap many businesses fall into, when scaling out to multiple channels, is that they end up using individual systems to host and manage the content for each one.

Having different systems managing your different channels, and populating them with the same content separately, will be creating unnecessary duplications of work, effort, and cost for your business. For instance:

  • If you already have a website, you may be looking at new platforms to develop a separate application for mobile, or perhaps even for wearable devices or smart-TVs
  • Conversely, if your brand was launched via a mobile app, you might be looking into a web-specific CMS to now build a website
  • Of course, if you’ve only dabbled in the basics of online business before, you might be looking into starting from scratch but are unsure which platform to choose

Thankfully, there’s a simple, efficient way to overcome these issues.

What ‘Headless’ Means for Your CMS

With that need for a multi-channel digital presence today, you must be able to engage with your customers across smartphones, laptops, tablets, wearables, TV, smart-speakers, and more. So it’s important you have one consolidated system for managing your content and services across each of these channels.

An ideal solution to these challenges, then, is to adopt a ‘headless’ CMS for your ‘back-end’ system, to manage all your various ‘front-end’ channels across all the different types of devices available to your users.

Using a ‘headless’ CMS puts the emphasis for processing and generating your front-end (your website or app, for instance) on each individual user’s devices (usually their laptop or phone). In the past, all that work was done in the back-end, and all the strain would therefore be placed on your platform.

Now, however, a headless model provides a far more efficient approach by populating pre-existing templates of the pages of your digital products with content, rather than having to build those pages in its own back-end as well. The CMS then uses application programming interfaces (APIs) to transmit the content your end-user has requested to whichever device or channel they’re using.

How Headless Can Help You

Using a headless CMS will offer a number of advantages and benefits, while also creating a far more positive experience for your end-users as well.

Ease-of-use and customer experience

Having just one single back-end to manage, edit, and publish all your content, rather than multiple disparate systems, will make things far easier and more efficient for you and your team.

Of course, a bonus of this is that all your content will still be displayed differently to your users on each different channel, with the user interface (UI) tailored to suit each of the specific formats and devices they’re using. That gives you absolute consistency, too. As a result, your users benefit from one seamless experience across all channels, which will build trust in your brand and help achieve greater customer retention.


As previously mentioned, having a headless CMS means your servers will do far less work than they would within a legacy model. That means that your website, or app, or any other digital product, has more capacity to handle higher volumes of use and can scale-up seamlessly.

So, if you experience a huge surge in traffic or begin to see significant growth in your user-base, a headless CMS will continue to perform with its usual speed and usability regardless. On the other hand, websites or apps built on a platform in a tightly-coupled model will see dips in performance as the volume of activity scales up.

Uninterrupted Editing

While you’re managing your digital products within the same CMS, headless models allow you to edit parts of each individual channel – whether it’s a page of your website or a section of your app – independently, without worrying about accidentally changing anything elsewhere.

A balanced view

Of course, it must be noted there are some down-sides to taking a headless approach as well.

One example would be that it’s rare to find a headless CMS with an in-built ‘what you see is what you get’ (WYSIWYG) editor. This is a tool that allows you to edit a page directly in the form that it will appear in the user’s front-end, and is a very popular way of managing content.

Another consideration to keep in mind is the development time required to build digital products on a headless CMS can sometimes be longer than usual. Although, it’s also worth noting that there’s a trade-off here with the greater performance and scalability of these headless products.

Do you want to explore how headless or decoupled solutions could benefit your company?

Get in touch and we’ll help you understand if it’s right for you

Selecting a Solution

If you’re looking for examples of headless CMS solutions with a proven track record, WordPress is a good place to start. WordPress, which currently powers around 40% of the websites on the Internet, can be used as a headless platform to deliver content to front-end devices and screens seamlessly across all channels. WordPress is an excellent option because it’s renowned for its ease-of-use, and already has you need to send data out via REST APIs built in.

Final Thoughts

One of the most effective and efficient ways of building a successful multi-channel online presence for your business today is by using a headless or ‘decoupled’ model. Not only does this approach provide a more convenient way of working for you and your team, but it ensures you’re able to meet the demands of your users in an ever-expanding digital landscape.

Of course, there are some projects where the requirements will be better suited to other solutions. If you’d like to learn more about which approach will be most effective for your own unique needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’d be happy to chat through them with you.

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