Generally speaking there are two CMS architectures. One of them is coupled CMS in which a single software does both content management & content delivery. The other one is Headless or decoupled CMS in which the content management & content delivery is separated by two software components for the sake of scalability, flexibility, security & other reasons. Decoupled CMS has become more popular with CMS developers in the past couple of years, particularly with the rise of mobile apps and the need for content management for apps.
In technical terms, Headless CMS (or Decoupled) means it has its frontend component (the head) detached from its backend. It stores and delivers content via an API and is not concerned about how the content is presented to the users.
Need for Decoupled CMS
With presentation of content baked in via theme, both WordPress and Drupal are traditionally “monolithic” CMSs. However, many developers started decoupling CMS due to the need for more flexibility and freedom, using it for content management while using a separate frontend component that communicates with the CMS via API.
Hence decoupled CMS architecture is getting popularized in the development world. A decoupled CMS provides developers huge flexibility to innovate, and helps site vendor future-proof their builds by permitting them to refresh the design without re-invoking the whole CMS.
How Does Decoupled CMS Work?
A headless CMS delivers content through an API. In general it means that it can deliver content anywhere, on any device. From one backend, a headless CMS facilitates delivering the same content to an iOS app and Android app. There are basically three sections in decoupled architecture that make it so compelling for various projects.
1. Decoupled Frontend
Frontend component of Decoupled CMS handles the presentation in a variety of ways, from interactive frameworks like Angular JS, to static generators & mobile apps, or even another CMS. Multiple frontends can exist together.
2. Content via Web Service API
The content for the site is available via a web-service API, generally in a RESTful manner and in a smash up-friendly format such as JSON.
3. CMS Backend and Database
Traditional database-driven CMS is the one which editors use to preserve the content for the site, basically via the same admin interface as always.
Hence, for the cross platform publishing and customer user experiences headless CMS proves highly beneficial. And this eventually helps the developers & designers to build the better products for the public.
Why opt for Headless or Decoupled CMS?
For granting the liberty & flexibility to your web developers & clients; going headless with your CMS is quite convincing. The headless model offers several benefits into the browser by changing responsibility for the user experience completely.
- The similar APIs used to control a desktop website can be used for a mobile app. Content can be shared effortlessly across multiple device platforms.
- Splits the presentation and data restrictions of a traditional page template-based system, allowing content to be combined and viewed in innovative ways.
- When it comes to updating the site later at that time it saves time. Headless CMS separates the front-end from the back-end, letting a user redesign a site without re-implementing the CMS. It’s not about the page management but about the content management.
- By shifting some of the processing to the device it may speed up the response time of the site, depending on the front end implementation.
Decoupled CMS architecture is perfect for websites that requires a lot of tailored functionality, need high levels of availability and performance, must be made available to one or more digital channels beyond the website itself and need be integrated with third party business systems. It is a natural evolution of content management in today’s world of multi-platform and multi-device digital content consumption.