What’s this Headless CMS I keep hearing about?
A Content Management System (CMS) is an online platform that helps with organising and displaying documents, blogs, wikis, or even websites. CMSs deliver most of the web content through browsers but now there’s pressure to deliver more than just html pages.
Smartphones, wearables, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), and AI-enabled voice assistants are delivering visual/audio and even sensory content that falls out of what a standard html document was originally designed for. This is where the concept of a headless CMS comes to the rescue. A headless CMS separates how the content is managed and how it is presented. Headless is the principle of not forcing the content to be in the same form in which it might be presented; that is, content does not have to be saved or delivered as a html format. With this operational imperative, immersive experiences, whether in the guise of virtual or augmented reality, can be managed by a headless CMS which is now structured to distribute any type of digital information.
A headless CMS stores and manages the content as data (files) and live feeds (connections with data streaming options). With this approach the content manager, as the person delivering the goods to their audience, is free to transform the content into presentations that include many of today’s cutting edge technologies, such as:
- The delivery of VR/AR experiences as presentations; simulations; digital twins; or panoramic remote instances which control distant processes or machinery in real-time.
- The implementation of AI visual/speech-enabled agents to aid us by providing information, recommendations and other assistance.
- The design of visualisations related to IoT or complex data analysis, to facilitate understanding and enhance engagement ( and the list keeps growing…)
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So, what’s the value of a headless CMS?
What was the value of a CMS, when all you could do before they became popular was to hand code html pages whenever you needed an online solution? A nanosecond of consideration (or perhaps a bit more) provides a list of benefits:
- The time saved through streamlined processes.
- Cost reduction gained through content development becoming accessible to non-technical staff.
- Risk mitigation through having access to a much larger pool of potential content developers.
- More control by having a workflow which could include moderators and QA personnel.
- Enhanced security since all web-pages were addressed by industry-accepted security protocols; and more.
All these gains are now paralleled when people shift from their CMS to a headless CMS model, as custom purpose content that previously would have required software development and technical oversight is transformed into non-technical workflow, still requiring artists and designers, but not the software and technical business analysts of old.
How does the headless CMS improve content development and distribution?
Content, regardless of its source, is always classified and accessible: Data and digital assets that were used for earlier projects are not lost in the mountain of material that may have been left behind. Since all material is managed by the headless CMS, every piece of data and digital object is always ready to live another day under a completely different content presentation (for instance, turn your old video into an AR experience.)
Economic value: What could have been a custom purpose, time-limited, silo experience (AR/VR, complex data visualisation, etc.) Can now be an experience that can be managed by your headless CMS. You may wish to extend such experiences to generate new value (for instance, recast a visualisation from just exposing the variables that drive certain business transactions or behaviours to perform forecasts for different scenarios, with the further implementation of AI support.)
Integration of new Solutions: New functionalities within the headless CMS are much easier to develop and deploy since the functionality can be easily encapsulated as a module of a much larger set of modules that form the system. These modules connect and support each other, but are designed in a way that changes to any of its parts does not negatively affect the running of the system.
Uniform Security rather than piecemeal efforts: Any product that is not designed, built, and distributed under a uniform system will always have its security protocols questioned (and rightly so.) A properly configured headless CMS must include the appropriate security protocols to satisfy industry standards. Each product, as a published content type, will be stamped by the umbrella security protocol of its headless CMS, ensuring a better reception by its audience.
The Headless CMS is not going away. They are here now and will continue to grow in acceptance and value. It is no longer a decision of whether you should invest in a headless CMS solution but rather when.