The Headless CMS is the Unsung Hero of Digital Content

Sep 13, 2017

Article ImageManaging content can be a tedious, time consuming process. As more content is uploaded oand pushed out across a variety of channels, for many organizations it’s a full-time job to keep track of it all and make sure websites, apps, etc. are running flawlessly. Website management traditionally falls under the ownership of the marketing team, but more often than not, it’s the developers who are stuck spending a large portion of their time tuning, tweaking, and fixing how content is published. This not only makes for an unproductive work environment, and is a waste of a skilled person’s time, it’s costing organizations serious money. So, how can such a ubiquitous problem get fixed?

The term “headless CMS” has emerged to describe a new way to manage content--and web managers cannot get enough of it. Instead of overwhelming their dev team with trivial requests, a headless CMS decouples code from content so that anyone can easily make edits--no training or development required. But how can it be that easy? The answer comes in the form of technology: The cloud and APIs.

After a website, application, or service is designed, developers work with content editors to identify what content needs to be managed, when, and how. Developers start their work as they normally would – by getting their hands dirty, writing code, and developing the ultimate product. But unlike traditional CMSs and frameworks, with a headless CMS developers can code using their favorite languages and tools, offering more flexibility. Once developers get websites and apps up and running, they build a structured format for the content and integrate the auto-generated APIs into the platform. Although CMS platforms started as a way to manage web content, headless CMS has allowed them to evolve into much more and manage content against new and emerging channels.

Here are three real examples of how organizations have freed themselves by using headless CMS:


In the gaming industry, a successful launch involves building an innovative and engaging game, creating a marketing campaign to generate sales, and then supporting users as they play the game in case any issues or questions arise. Traditionally, companies would rely on three disparate systems: a homegrown backend, a web CMS, and a support system to manage these three channels. By using a headless CMS, companies are able to free developers from the monotony of staging content and making urgent fixes to spelling mistakes. After all, nothing is worse than misspelling the hero’s name during a quest! With an API-first approach, a gaming company can bring innovation to their marketing strategy, even across social channels and all without cumbersome legacy technology that could take days to stage new content. By using the same platform to manage their support needs, companies can focus on helping their users and writing content, without any additional training. As an added benefit, IT security teams love that they only need to certify one solution to support three unique company initiatives.


In the sports industry, news comes out every minute. True fans want to stay up to date on team news, scores, and stats, and a 15-minute delay just won’t cut it. To support these needs, teams like the Miami HEAT use a headless CMS to engage with fans on their platform of choice. This solution enables teams to craft unique, lightweight content for their fans several times per day. Teams know that a user wants to be fed the most pertinent information as fast as possible, so they use a headless CMS to optimize the application for users on the fly. For example, when the team lands a star player, the roster and their player profile page is going to be a top resource for fans, but two days later, when the season’s schedule is announced, the web team can refocus the app to prioritize the schedule over the roster on the homepage, for example. This flexible, headless architecture also allows them to delight users with autoplay videos, GIFs, and more that they can update daily.


We all know that retail is a cut-throat industry with fierce competition, but did you know that retail businesses are already locking down their holiday web content plans this month? Brands will already have all of their holiday signage and supplies delivered to stores before Halloween. To complement this, they create media, content, and promotions for their mobile and web properties to excite users throughout the holiday season. You might not realize, but most banners and galleries on mobile apps will feature sale or seasonal items, designed to entice users to come into the physical store or buy it directly through the app. Before adopting headless CMS technology, many companies would hard-code this content into their mobile application which meant that the Black Friday ads had to be finalized and submitted in a new app to Apple several months in advance. Now, let’s say the promotion did phenomenally, and by December 1st the gallery is still featuring a blouse that’s now out of stock online and in 90% of the company’s stores. That’s prime mobile app real estate that’s going to waste! With headless CMS, a new, more fruitful promotion can replace the outdated one. In turn, this creates more satisfied customers and eventually a greater bottom line for the brand.

Praise is rarely given by end users when a site or app is functioning well, but when there are errors, you hear about it immediately. People look at content in a variety of forms online throughout the day, so even the smallest of system bugs can negatively affect users’ interpretations of a business. Reputation is hard earned and easily lost, so organizations are highly motivated to do everything they can to create a positive user experience. Headless CMS is a powerful new option that allows organizations to create more engaging, real time content experiences for their customers, and users while managing critical content efficiently and effectively across all of their channels.

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