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In defence of Headless CMS

Our Director of Development, Technology and Security, Matt Pallatt, has been working in the industry since before Google launched Google. Platform agnostic, he writes in defence of the Headless CMS…

It’s fairly well agreed that a Headless CMS should focus exclusively on the C – content – and give a highly streamlined, administrative interface for content creators.

It’s also fair to say that a fair degree of confusion exists across the internet’s various interested parties as to what exactly makes a CMS truly ‘headless’.

Yes, whilst it’s ‘technically’ true that the evangelical would demand that a Headless CMS requires that the platform be built from the ground up to be API-first, it’s also fair to say that many vendors, with their traditional enterprise (and otherwise) CMS platforms, have adapted nicely to delivering APIs that take their own platforms into the channel agnostic or highly creatively-leaning Headless space.

As an agency, we don’t get to work with too many corporate clients who have a hundred different creative approaches across 100 different pages – the reasons for this are many, from a user’s expectation of consistency in User Experience (UX) through to the cost implications of 100 designs and builds (a lot) – there is a reason why corporates (and SMEs) operate templated websites, and that’s because they work and require little management and platform knowledge for updates.

This means that the need for Headless in our world of work is focused on those clients who have handfuls of content, handfuls of pages which demand highly creative approaches – OR those clients who have multiple channels that they want to be able to update from a single management interface.

And it’s in that latter scenario where we as an agency find ourselves most demanding that Headless work for us; here, we are attempting to take existing data models and push them into new and interesting channels – be that mobile apps, wearables, smart white goods, or even the more traditional options such as dynamic emails, banners or display advertising.

And at the point where it becomes about delivering the best solution for a client with 10 different channels, does it matter that the platform isn’t strictly Headless?

Episerver and Umbraco have both separately impressed with their releases allowing us as developers to open up their systems to inject data into a number of new channels, while at the same time benefiting from the strong management and marketing tools afforded by the platforms.

Maybe it’s less about no head, and more about knowing which head to use in which circumstance?

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