While a headless CMS is recognized as one of the biggest facilitators of modern web experiences, does it make sense for your organization to make the switch right now? When does it make sense to use a headless CMS?
Have you noticed the increased frequency of leading brands moving to a headless CMS? Gartner is predicting that by the end of 2022 “30% of applications will use internal, independent suites of libraries in a modular fashion (up from 3% in 2019).” They’re also saying that companies adopting a modular CMS, like headless, will “integrate new functionalities 80% faster than those who don’t”.
Chances are, you’re reading this because your business is built on a traditional CMS, and you’ve heard some of the buzz surrounding headless architecture. If you’ve read our blog “9 reasons why your business needs a headless architecture” you know there are benefits to adopting a headless CMS— however, moving all your valuable data and content is an investment of time and money. In this blog, we’re going to explore if moving to a headless CMS makes sense for your organization right now.
Know when it is time for you to make the switch to a headless CMS
Assess your headless “readiness” with these 10 questions
If you find yourself answering “yes” to the questions below, schedule time with the right people in your organization to find an implementation partner soon.
1. Are you nearing the end of your current CMS contract period?
Let’s face it, a majority of the business decisions we make are based on our budgets and if there’s a great ROI. A good area to start determining if you’re in a position to adopt headless is understanding your current CMS contract. If you’re approaching the end of a contract period, now would be a great time to move to a headless CMS.
Making the move prior to your contract expiration would provide for less friction with your current vendor. You’ll also ensure there’s no money wasted by switching before you get locked in again by renewing. However, organizations that are locked into multi-year contracts are not without hope. Many CMS providers support a pure or hybrid headless mode. While your contract may determine whether it’s a better financial move to adopt a hybrid or pure headless model – there are other decisions to consider (read on).
2. Is your organization a “best of breed” or “one throat to choke” culture?
Organizations that prefer to work with a diverse group of vendors tend to prefer headless architectures. These companies generally have a diverse marketing ecosystem or are eager to adopt one – meaning they use discrete marketing tools (e.g.: for personalization, A/B testing, profile management, search optimization, etc.) as opposed to a single platform that incorporates all these capabilities.
Separate tools work well in a headless environment. A custom API can pull in the right pieces, at the right time in the experience— providing freedom to switch outdated tools or choose best-in-breed products to stay ahead of the curve.
3. Do you struggle to empower and separate each role in your team?
Can your front-end developers, authors, back-end developers, QA, compliance, and IT all work independently? If so, you’re in a good place to adopt headless.
With good planning, a headless CMS can remove many dependencies between those roles, and provide your team with the structure they need to do their jobs without waiting on each other. Give your front-end developers freedom from platform restraints, content authors flexibility with presentation restraints, and IT teams the ability to de-shackle governance from platform upgrades.
If you’re not set up this way, some partners can supply the right resources to diversify these teams.
4. Can your staff handle a change in CMS right now?
While moving to a headless CMS will enable your company to be more agile than ever before, making the switch will require investment. You’ll want to be in a position that can handle the work involved with moving your content and have a team capable of smoothing out any bumps along the way. Moving to headless at the right time can become a synergistic experience if the right pieces are in place. For example, switching to headless while doing a complete redesign is going to be cheaper than doing it after.
You’ll also want to consider if your current staff is tech-savvy enough to adopt a new platform. The good news is you’ll likely attract a strong mix of developers to your team as a headless CMS gives developers more freedom to work with their preferred tools and languages. Beginning the change while you’re building out those internal teams and departments would be prudent.
An implementation partner can be of huge benefit here. While there may be short-term growing pains, the long-term gain will be worth it.
5. Are you unhappy with your speed to market?
Does this scenario sound familiar? There’s a marketer waiting for compliance, who is waiting for QA, who is waiting for translation, who is waiting for content, who is waiting for a new template, which is on IT’s back burner. You might find yourself regularly asking your developers to create new templates or additional features for your website or app. Depending on how efficient your IT department is, and how much work is in your pipeline, you might not deliver products as quickly as you’d like.
While a traditional CMS would usually have content editors wait until the end of the development phase to begin populating the site, a headless CMS will allow your IT and marketing teams to work in parallel. Adopting a headless architecture makes it so these teams no longer need to wait on one another, allowing you to go to market sooner with new products or services without content-related delays.
6. Do you operate many different websites without a single source of content in the organization?
If you service multiple regions, locations, franchises, or languages – headless may be for you. Managing several different brands in several different locations in several different languages across several different channels is a tedious process when you’re attached to traditional CMS.
If you’re running multiple CMSs without a headless architecture, your team is probably spending lots of effort cutting, pasting, and reformatting content for individual channels. Also, many all-in-one solutions do not support multi-language translations. A headless CMS allows you to better keep track of content changes across a variety of locations and languages – and push changes out to appropriate channels from a centralized location.
7. Are you worried about the security of your website?
Because a headless CMS is hidden, those with malicious intent toward your website have no page-building logic to exploit. The security of the API, plus the security of the headless architecture combine to give less surface area for attackers. Your organization can benefit from building custom, secure APIs that keep the information of your customers in a spot only accessible to you.
8. Do you plan to scale rapidly or add new channels to your marketing mix (omnichannel)?
We hope your goals see you growing and adding new product lines at an increased pace. A headless CMS will offer a frictionless, flexible, and adaptable way to scale your digital presence along with it.
Adopting headless helps you speed up time to market, using custom APIs to adjust backend technologies at speed without impacting front-end experiences. The nature of headless allows you to add more touchpoints to the customer experience (or shopping channels for commerce) for a faster, more unified experience. If you operate across multiple channels and touchpoints or plan to, headless has clear advantages over one-size-fits-all platforms.
9. Is your app, wearable, Alexa skills, or another medium as important as your website?
Your customers expect a consistent experience wherever they interact with you. As more users depend on various devices for content, you’ll benefit from an efficient and consistent way to update all your channels. A headless CMS separates the front-end experience from the content, helping you to change either or both to fit any form factor without dependencies.
Creating content for an IoT environment can be cumbersome. If you post promos to your app or find yourself requiring developer help to make screen-specific changes to your content, a headless CMS can help alleviate the headache.
10. Are you tired of your governance workflow?
If your content is highly scrutinized – going through several rounds of editing by compliance, review, legal, investors, or whomever – having a headless CMS can help your organization. With headless, content stands alone and gets approved independent of the technical activities around publishing it.
Changes to any copy, be that legal/fine print or privacy policies should never run the risk of being updated in one place and not the other. Headless CMS allows you to update the content once and push it out to all channels where it lives, ensuring compliance, limiting risk, and improving workstreams.
Getting started with Headless
Did you answer “yes” to a number of questions above or meet the mold of a company that (1) sells on many channels, (2) desires sleek omnichannel experiences, or (3) needs to scale quickly? Then the question is not when, but what are the next steps to consider headless.
If you’re curious about how to prepare for a headless architecture, read our blog “Why organizations should build custom API solutions to prepare for a headless CMS experience.” If you have more questions about how you could benefit from a headless CMS or want help implementing one, let’s chat.