The ‘headless’ CMS revolution: 3 names to lookout for in 2018

How we use the web is changing. Devices are becoming more connected. There’s more than one way to do most things now.

Just using voice, you might use Cortana on your Windows PC, Siri on your iPad, Google Now on your phone, Alexa on your Amazon Echo. You can order a taxi from your watch, or request a delivery of toilet paper from a button next to your loo.

Keep things separate

These connections require data to be kept in a clean way. If your opening times are stored only on your website as a block of text, it’s going to make it hard for other services to use them. And if you were to change your opening times, there’s a lot of different places to update them.

What makes sense is to keep your data in one place, and keep it a format that’s as clean as possible.

Then, all of the services that need to use it – including your own website – can access it in the same way. Need to make a change? Not a problem, only change it once and you’re good to go.

Chop the head off

Content Management Systems (CMS) are great for managing content – but they are often tied to the website. Most of them think in ‘pages’ or ‘posts’. Ideally, a CMS would break the content down into what they are – and then you can use them as you’d like.

For example, imagine that rather than having a page for each product, you have a type of content called ‘product’. You can then give it things like ‘name’ and ‘price’.

Decoupled

This way, a chatbot can find a list of products just as easily as you displaying a list of products on your site – but they come from the same place.

De-couple the website from the CMS – chop off the head.

These types of CMS are called ‘headless CMS’, or ‘decoupled CMS’.

Ready for anything

These modern CMS can be used for managing almost anything, far more than a traditional CMS. This will give you years of extra use without having to keep updating it. And most of them are hosted, so you don't have to keep looking after them.

1. Contentful

Helpfully Contentful have their own article all about headless CMS, and they have some great examples of how to use them. Their homepage also breaks down technically how it works.

Contentful has a huge number of ready-made libraries for all kinds of technology that you can use right away. You can get the content out into everything from JavaScript to Objective-C (basically everything useful!) straight away and quickly.

And for the non-technical among you, they have a page just for you: the last CMS you’ll ever need.

2. ButterCMS

Perfect for getting simple sites and blogs up and running, ButterCMS has a really clean and simple interface. It’s a bit friendly to use as a user than Contentful, and has a great WYSIWYG editor (means you can see what you’re doing as you’re writing). It’s also a little bit cheaper than Contentful, great for tipping your toe in the water.

It also has a huge number of libraries out-of-the-box you can get started with to get your content into your app, website – or something else!

3. IBM Watson Content Hub

For the enterprise world, the mighty weight of IBM has arrived quite early into the headless CMS scene. Watson has some hugely versatile APIs and the potential to organise huge amounts of vastly complicated content.

At over €220/£190 a month, it is an expensive option – but you have IBM behind it to give you some peace of mind (that have been going since 1911). However there is a free trial you can give a spin first though.

Bring on the revolution

As customers begin to move away from using web pages and start using voice and text more, you’re going to make sure your business is where your customers are looking.

Get ahead with a headless CMS. Tidy up your content, make it more useful, and prepare yourself for future technologies.