Tired of inflexible CMS solutions and inadequate speed? Then you should consider going headless

In this article we give you insights into Headless: What is it, and how does it help you? How does Headless work, and how does Headless and SEO correlate?

What is headless and how does it help you?

If you are used to working in a traditional CMS, you might recognize some of the following challenges: inflexible work processes, plugin bloat, limitations in reuse of content across platforms and devices and, attendant to all of these, problems with loading times.

If any of this sounds familiar, it might be time to consider switching to Headless CMS.

Headless is, simply put, a CMS that disconnects the front end from the back end. This means that you can have any number of front ends, across different platforms, without being limited by a tightly held connection between back end and front end. And as time goes by, and new platforms become part of your outreach, you’ll be able to fit them into your setup as well. The same is true for the back end – here, you can update one aspect or section, without disrupting the front end.

In other words, by going headless, you are adopting a tech-agnostic approach, where you can continuously adapt and update according to your needs and the technological innovations that become available, while maintaining day-to-day performance.

As we’ve mentioned, the primary benefit of headless is the fact that it disconnects the back end from the front end. As you can see in the table 'Traditional CMS vs. Headless CMS', this provides a high degree of flexibility, both in terms of how things work now – looking at market conditions and technological direction – and how they might look in the future. In other words, while a traditional CMS ties you to an inflexible set of conditions, going headless allows you to adapt as new platforms and devices become part of your strategy.

To expand on the comparisons in the table, the differences between traditional and headless CMS manifest in terms of flexibility and adaptability – both in terms of you being able to adapt to changing circumstances in the market, but also in terms of being able to adapt the CMS to the needs of your company.

In addition, with a traditional CMS you’ll find yourself shackled to one solution that solves a dozen different things, some very well and others less well. With headless, you will be able to choose a best-in-breed approach and pick the best solution for each of the issues you need to address.

As we have mentioned, the benefits of going headless are not merely there when you initially adopt that approach to CMS. If you decide that your needs have grown in say, 5 years, or new solutions have eclipsed what is currently viewed as the top of the class, you can upgrade your tech without having to do a rehaul of the entire system from top to bottom.

So, how does headless work?

To reiterate an earlier point, a headless CMS is different from a traditional CMS in that the back end is no longer connected to a specific front end. Instead, data is sent from back end to front end, and vice versa, through an API. This means that we can use an omni channel approach, and connect to any number of different platforms, since the CMS itself is not actually tied directly to any of them. As shown in the graphic 'Headless architecture', this provides a high degree of flexibility, and the ability to adapt as the market changes.

This, as we’ve mentioned earlier, is the core selling point of a headless CMS – by virtue of not being bound to any one front end, the back end can connect to any number of platforms, and work with any number of different devices.

An added benefit of this lack of direct bond between front end and back end is security – with a headless CMS, your system will be less vulnerable to malicious outsiders than would be the case with the mass of plugins you would often be working with in a traditional CMS setup. More to the point, your front end is no longer directly tied to your back end – working through an API means that you can have greater control over how to access the back end, meaning you will have fewer vulnerabilities.

The argument here is, in essence, comparatively simple – given the sheer mass of potentially vulnerable points you would have in a traditional CMS setup compared to a headless setup, making the switch will mean a more secure system.

Headless and SEO

One thing we haven’t covered yet is the interplay between going headless and SEO. Rumors abound; some say it’s better, some say it’s worse. The truth is somewhere in between.

With traditional CMS you have an out-of-box solution, which will often mean that you can avoid truly awful SEO, but that you will most likely also miss out on top tier optimization. With headless on the other hand, you can make your own choices – which explains why some stories connect headless with poor SEO. Since the work is no longer built-in, the onus is on you to have a plan.

However, this by no means guarantees a bad outcome – in fact, since you have the power to make your own choices, you can adopt a best-in-breed approach to SEO, much as we discussed before. In addition, experience shows that by going headless, and decoupling SEO from your CMS, you can pick approaches that will notably boost the speed of your front end loading. This is a crucial point, since we have known for a few years now that google search ranking is tied to load speeds – in other words, if you want to do well in SEO, being fast is no longer advantageous, it’s necessary.

Choosing a headless approach means that your SEO strategy is no longer tied to your CMS. This provides you with the flexibility to go with whatever solutions and approaches you need for your particular situation, giving you a much higher degree of control than you would have in a traditional CMS setup.

Part of that, of course, is the risk that you will fail, ending up with a result worse than you would have had with a traditional CMS. How do you avoid that? Have a plan and have the right people – both internally and externally.

 

At Kraftvaerk we are adopting and implementing Headless solutions and we are partners with some of the best Headless providers.

 

True headless: 

Strapi

Contentful

Umbraco heartcore

 

Legacy CMS´s new implementations: 

Optimizely

Sitecore

 

Author: Rene Christensen, Senior Architect at Kraftvaerk

Putting customers first

Rasmus Kjær Madsen

Engagement Director

+45 53 72 97 84
rasmus.kjaer@kraftvaerk.com