Have Pure Headless CMSs Lost Their Way?

The pure headless CMS was a genius idea when it was first created but now that may not be the case as they’ve lost their way.

Joel Varty
Joel Varty
Mar 16, 2020

When new customer experience channels (think Amazon Echo and digital signage) started to emerge, developers had a great idea.

“Let’s build a content management system that doesn’t care about which front-end you use. It just pulls and pushes content headlessly, to any channel or device!”

It was genius. Suddenly, brands could write up content, and design images to be spoken aloud by Amazon Alexa or displayed proudly on a wide-screen monitor at physical locations. 

The only problem was, those headless CMS solutions focus purely on the usage of APIs to push and pull content to external applications and channels—ignoring the needs of marketers and content authors. You know, the ones actually writing and designing the content. 

What started out as a stroke of genius, has lost its way since. 


Being Content-first is Vital, Just Don’t Forget Content Marketers 

Headless CMSs come in different forms. Some label themselves as API-first, some as content-first, and many other variations of the headless trend. However, there is a problem with the way headless CMSs operate. 

Most of them can handle the storage and distribution of content that makes headless so attractive. These platforms recognize that it’s necessary to push content to various channels outside of standard websites. The ability to connect to APIs and distribute to any front end makes this possible. However, headless CMSs don’t cater to the ones producing this content—the editors and marketers. 

The ability to deliver content across multiple channels like smart speakers and smartwatches in the age of IoT is a pivotal part of the equation when it comes to content management. But you can’t forget the needs of content marketers. The marketing teams need robust tools they can rely on and marketer-friendly features that allow them to not only evolve with the growing number of content channels but also grow their websites. 

Despite the need for omnichannel presence, a website remains one of the vital pieces of the digital experience. Websites no longer have to be simple one-dimensional sheets. Instead, you can create a dynamic website experience as well. Marketers need access to a CMS platform that allows them to manage and share content across multiple websites from a single instance. They also need the ability to publish rich media content, images and more to create the best content experience for their customers. 

Most current CMS platforms make it easy for marketers to create and edit the basic pieces of content quickly. But when it comes time to make this content more visually appealing and exciting for the customers, it can’t be done without the help of a developer. Marketers lack the autonomy necessary to create these experiences for their customers as current CMS headless platforms forget a few things. 


What Headless CMS Are Forgetting

The backbone of any great headless CMS is amazing architecture. Headless CMSs can provide significant benefits for a website today including faster loading speed, improved customer experiences and a plethora of API options so that you don’t run into a bottleneck. 

A strong headless CMS needs to do the above, without forgetting the tools catered towards less technical users and required to update website content like resize images, drag-and-drop features and more. Marketers are used to WYSIWYG editors that are common in legacy CMS platforms and the other marketing tools they frequently use. They need autonomy and marketer-friendly features that reduce the reliance on IT departments. 

Storing and managing content using a CMS is meant to make it easier for marketers to manage content workflows and make improvements. Marketers need the ability to set up optimized workflows for approving and publishing content. They also need to be able to view content interfaces easily and preview content across multiple channels. Many headless CMS platforms forget this feature, meaning that marketers need to wait for IT departments to connect APIs and tell them if the content is displaying correctly, leading to longer implementation times. 

A headless CMS acts primarily as a content repository, storing content for use on multiple channels. This isn’t enough for the modern-day marketer and limits the capabilities of the organization as a whole.

Get on Track with Agility CMS

A pure headless CMS may not be the way forward, but a content-first CMS like Agility CMS can help your marketing, and IT teams to get on track with marketer-friendly features. Agility CMS provides built-in SEO features, content previewing, revision history and the ability to schedule content. These content authoring tools are necessary for marketers to create and edit with ease.

Features like this are perfect for marketing teams, giving them a highly customizable experience and making it easy for them to do things without having to rely on the IT department.

Agility CMS also provides some additional functionality that allows it to stand out compared to others in the headless CMS world and make it easier for content editors to get things done on their own. 


Page Management

Editors can manage pages and navigation right out the box. They can create and manage pages for an app or website using reusable building blocks. Page management provides several editor friendly options such as unlimited page templates, modules and page scheduling. Also, the ability to build not only dynamic pages based on a shared content list, but also manage multiple sitemaps using digital channels. What’s more, developers don’t need to worry about editors overextending themselves and accidentally breaking something as they have full control of the modules available to editors. 

Agility CMS allows you to define 3 things that make working with pages really easy for both content editors and developers to work with. Developers set up the templates and definitions, while content editors determine how and where they want to use those templates and definitions. This part of the content architecture is fundamental to the success of any CMS solution that includes a website.

 Watch how easy and fast it is for an editor to add a page:

Content Relationships

Agility CMS provides flexible content structures for all digital channels. Editors can import and export content, schedule content, create content relationships and hierarchies and edit everything using a rich text editor. 

Pure headless CMSs may no longer be the perfect solution for delivering content across multiple channels. While they do provide adequate content repositories and excellent customer experiences, they lack the user experience needed for the non-technical content creators. The solution is a decoupled CMS platform like Agility CMS.

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