February 01, 2018
Every once in a while, a technology comes out that radically changes what developers can build for my fellow marketers. We hear about it at a periphery. Until we see the cool case studies though, it doesn’t mean anything to us. It’s just code and repos, which basically translates to “stuff that doesn’t help me meet my KPIs.”
I’m going to highlight a technology that allows marketers and web producers to be more creative and reach more people, IF we’re willing to part with our traditional tools and ways of thinking.
Figuratively speaking, of course. It’s time to use headless content management technologies. This approach allows content creators and front end developers to use their own independent languages, tools, and workflows, rather than relying on a standard CMS or eCommerce platform. Content is simply delivered in a machine readable format called JSON. Designers and developers then gain a lot more freedom to use content wherever and whenever it makes sense.
Because traditional CMSes or eCommerce solutions allow you to rock this:
Wowee. Not bad, but…You could be rocking this:
This is an actual Augmented Reality app from the British Museum. They use Contentful to do this. See the case study. By going headless, you can instantly ship and edit content into any app your developers can build. Content can be served at a specific location, and across multiple devices at the same time.
A headless CMS assumes nothing about the destination of your content, which is why it is much smarter for the modern web. Developers can integrate content across multiple applications at the same time. Developers can use your content in any way, at a much bigger scale, and in any device. A/B or multivariate test. Personalize content for users using advanced AI. Customize digital displays. Heck, pull content from another API, structure it, and ship it on your digital properties. If developers can build it, you’ll have a centralized dashboard to ship content to it.
Edit content that is then served on a static page. Edit voice interfaces. Edit a digital display on a flying drone that is carrying tacos. Whatevs.I don’t think that we as marketers recognize the capabilities that are already out there. We haven’t even built many digital teams who can accommodate this shift. Yet.
Yep. You wouldn’t force your homebuilder to use a single material for your house. Why are we forcing developers to use PHP or Java for our projects? Why must they stick with MySQL when they can launch databases that handle many more concurrent reads and writes, even in a graph? Just like the materials that build skyscrapers and homes, different programming languages, databases, and developer tools excel at different tasks.
This is how many developers see your CMS’s technology. Courtesy of Coding Horror
Developers aren’t building these experiences very often because marketers are not asking for them. We’re sticking to our traditional way of doing our jobs. Most traffic is mobile, and there are more connected devices than human beings. What’s holding us up? Why can’t we customize that kind of content too?
The technology is there. It’s up to us to start using it.
Currently you can use WordPress’s new lightweight version, dubbed “Calypso,” on WordPress.com. Any developer can use their API though. Here’s a blog post that explains how to go headless with WordPress using React.
Contentful offers “content infrastructure.” Their API goes beyond the traditional page-centric approach to content, hence, they do not consider themselves a CMS. Contentful may seem complex at first, but it is excellent for using content across various channels.
By leveraging Heroku, a frontend developers can easily deploy and scale stacks in all sorts of languages.
WebriQ CMS is bridging the GAP between Static Site Generators and Flat File CMS Systems. The days when a brand only needed one website to house its online presence are long gone. Today, webinars, events, pop-up shops and product promotions all require their own microsites or landing pages. When we moved into what some call the post-CMS landscape, the usage of static site generators and Flat-file CMS and Static Site Generator functionality overlaps in many ways ; so how do you choose between the two?
When we moved into what some call the post-CMS landscape, the usage of static site generators (SSGs) and flat-file CMS for these microsites (and at times for lightweight corporate sites), grew. And now, with the headless CMS hype in full flow, the interest in these front-end solutions is returning.
The rise of the headless CMS approach and the benefits it provides for users, developers and operations mean it’s only going to become the default way to implement true multichannel, multibrand applications going forward.
The web has fundamentally changed since the CMS first came out. Just as we moved from building websites in Dreamweaver to the CMS, it’s time that we move past traditional CMS thinking. The web will ultimately be a lot more interesting.
Do not try and bend the CMS. That’s impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth. There is no CMS.