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A Hitchhiker's Guide to Headless Content Management Systems

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Fabian Image by Fabian Beliza

Headless Content Management Systems have grown big time in the recent years and are enjoying immense popularity. The really big difference to a conventional CMS is the missing front-end, which certainly opens up a great set of possibilities. For developers, the headless CMS provides an API for the stored content. For editors, the CMS provides great tooling to manage all their content. Your front-end applications then fetch data from this API and displays it.

Headless – Is that useful?

The modern headless CMS is far more than a database with an API put in front of it. It should give content creators all tools they need to deliver truly great content. Such tools can be authoring tools, content localization and more. The integration into existing websites is also far easier and efficient than you might think! 

Every front-end language that is able to fetch and send JSON data is suitable for headless content management. So you can use your content on nearly every device you can imagine without worrying about back-end design, databases or more of that complicated stuff. Simply build your website, app or software and retrieve the content from your content API.

What about the Non-Techies?

If you have no technical background whatsoever, headless content management might sound very scary – and it probably is. You should definitely have a front-end developer on your team or in short range to get him to display all the awesome stuff you created in your headless CMS. Otherwise a standard CMS such as Wordpress or countless others might be the better fit for you.

The Advantages

When you know what you are doing, headless CMS' are really easy to start with. You just build your website and get all the data you need instantly delivered to your desired destination.

The backend is handled by the CMS of your choice. You are not bothered by any updates, server maintenance or database troubles –  lean back and focus on the important work.

Hassle free development becomes your daily business. Content creators can work independently from developers.

The Limits

As mentioned before: If you have no qualified developer in sight, you might want to have a look at traditional web content management systems. That being said, a headless CMS is equally qualified for every task a "traditional" CMS can handle.

Final thoughts

Each headless CMS is different. Some rely on REST, others - like us - take advantage of the great benefits GraphQL brings to the table. It's not quite easy to say which technology is the right for you per se or even which headless CMS is the best fit. It all comes down to preferences and your personal experience.

So go out there and get your hands on every available headless CMS and just test them out. Stick with the one you like the most and create awesome content!

To get started on GraphCMS sign up here and have a look around! If any questions pop up, feel free to contact us via On-Site-Chat or in our Slack channel.

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