January 20, 2019
51.3% of people now spend more time searching the Internet on mobiles than on desktops. US Consumers use on average 3.5 connected devices each. Augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) market will grow from $5.2b in 2016 to more than $162b in 2020.
We need a new way of managing content in this multichannel world. We have been using traditional CMS systems, also referred to as monolithic CMS systems for years now. They are called monolithic because they handle the content in a database, and also handle the entire presentation layer. The most predominant players in the market are Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla to a lesser extend. Beyond have been around for over a decade, the biggest issue these systems have is that they are not well suited for a multichannel environment and usually support traditional rigid business processes.
In the new multichannel world, your content may be consumed on any number of devices. If you do not want to miss the opportunity of truly engaging with your customers, you need to make sure your content is ready for multiple channels. This requires a whole new mindset in structuring, organizing, managing, and presenting content. Unfortunately, traditional CMS systems were built with just websites in mind and, although they do support structured content, the multichannel approach is an afterthought for them and they do not support the new paradigm well.
Companies, waking up to the realization they need to be agile, are increasingly moving their systems to the Cloud. They recognize that running systems internally is less efficient and lacks the flexibility and speed they need in today’s dynamic world. While traditional CMS systems can be hosted in the cloud environment, they weren’t designed as Software as a Service (SaaS) products and lack the benefits of a true cloud-first solution.
In order to stay competitive and connected with your customers, you need a new generation of CMS—a cloud-first headless CMS. We’re at the very beginning of this new era. If you’re choosing a CMS today, you need to consider whether a monolithic digital experience platform or a new cloud-first headless CMS product is best for you.
Headless CMS is a content management system that allows you to manage content and access it from your applications using an API. Unlike traditional CMS solutions, headless CMS does without the presentation layer (the “head”) that would dictate how the content should be displayed. Instead, you control the presentation completely with your own code. This not only enables a content-first approach to your engagement with your audience (as content creators no longer have to wait for development teams to catch up) but it means you can use the same content across multiple channels—website, mobile app, digital assistant, virtual reality, smart watches, etc.—making the headless CMS the ideal solution for the fast-paced multichannel world.
Many traditional coupled or decoupled CMS systems provide some kind of REST API and claim they are “hybrid” or “also headless”. You should be aware, however, of important details that make a big difference between a CMS that was designed with a headless or “API- first” approach in mind from the very beginning, versus a CMS for which the API was an afterthought. This is definitely the case for Wordpress REST API. Oftentimes you will discover that this REST API may not even make such content available or the way the content is provided makes it useless for other channels, like a mobile app. A true headless CMS was built with an API-first approach. Its creators usually pay a lot of attention to the API and the whole solution is designed in a way that enables its full power. Traditional CMS products often provide just a pure REST API, lacking the additional elements that ensure high scalability and security of the APIs in real-world applications. They usually don’t provide a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to ensure global coverage, or high speed or high service availability, which has a considerable negative impact on its overall performance.
The most revolutionary aspect of the headless approach is that it enables CMS vendors to provide a CMS in a true multitenant Software as a Service model. This wasn’t possible with traditional CMS models that combined both content management and content presentation. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons traditional CMS vendors only provide single-tenant managed hosting or Platform as a Service (PaaS) hosting for their products. Such models, however, don’t unlock all the benefits of the Cloud.
Founded in 2013, Germany-based Contentful offers an API-driven headless CMS. Contentful’s RESTful API gives developers full programmatic control of content, digital assets, and translations. The platform also takes advantage of caching techniques as well as external CDN integrations to enable the delivery of API payloads in the sub-100ms range. It has the ability to display JSON snippets, a rich-text editor, and content modelling features the enable marketers to arrange individual fields and content modules such as text, images and calendars.
Brooklyn-based Directus is an open source headless CMS and API. Built using Vue.js., Directus manages custom-schema SQL databases directly. The idea is that developers can create custom databases based on specific project needs without learning a proprietary framework or being forced to build using specific technologies. When the database is ready, Directus’ API or SDKs can be connected, resulting in a customizable interface that business users can use to manage database content for their websites and applications.
Giessen, Germany-based GraphCMS is an API-first CMS that entered the market in 2017. The product is based on GraphQL, a data query language that some developers consider to be the successor to REST. GraphCMS allows you to develop a hosted GraphQL back-end for your application where you can define relations, structures, and permissions of your application data. It also comes with a number of tools to create and manage your content, including text editors, asset management, workflows, user roles, and multi-lingual support.
San Francisco-based Prismic is a SaaS headless CMS that comes with a visual editor, custom type builds, multi-language support, and full revision history. As well as native integrations with eCommerce platforms like Shopify and Magento, Prismic comes with a scheduling and project management tool to enable collaboration and workflow management. Prismic provides developers with a development kit for their preferred programming language or framework.
France-based Strapi is an open source headless CMS built on Node.js. It enables you to build and manage multiple APIs. The front-end agnostic platform features an extensible and customizable admin panel, plugins, asset management, and several security layers including CSFR, CORS, P3P, and XSS.
While the technology will differ from vendor to vendor, the biggest difference you’ll feel is the level of service and support the vendor will provide during deployment, and thereafter. Going headless isn’t the easiest transition your brand will make, so be sure to choose a vendor with a history of giving hands-on assistance and supportive expertise. Or choose WebriQ GLUE where we have prequalified and implemented all the building blocks of a true headless CMS approach, and where support and ongoing maintenance and updates are in the DNA of the service. We have been designing and developing websites and web apps for a long time, and we have seen all the deficiencies of project based pricing, per hour pricing, unknowns in devops, unknowns in maintenance, overruns, delays etc. We have developed a very opinionated way of implementing websites, ecommerce carts and webapps and we completely moved away from a monolithic, legacy and centralized approach. We believe in a decentralized approach whereby each software component is chosen for it’s best in class, but at the same time replaceable with a newer best in class if needed. Where we can not find a best in class critical functionality that is open sourced, we develop it ourselves, i.e. WebriQ Forms. We are strong supporters of the API economy and we strongly believe in microservices when it comes to functionality and automation. We aim at 100% serverless operation, and we know how to do that and we aim at 100% uptime, and we know how to do that. We are highly specialized, and opinionated when it comes to the technology stack used.