Before understanding what a headless CMS is and how headless CMS works, let us take a look at the traditional content management system and what it intended to do. Traditional content management systems are available in the market since the early days of web development. WordPress and Joomla are platforms that were designed to store and present components of content such as texts, images and videos on websites.
The approach of traditional CMS was to manage content by putting contents, HTML, CSS, and images, all in one place. This approach made it impossible to reprocess contents as they became combined with code.
The need for more adaptable methods of content management systems increased as digital platforms became more evolved with time. Companies are now developing apps, websites, conversational interfaces, digital displays, and so on. The traditional CMS failed to keep pace with these developments because such a system organises content in webpage-oriented frameworks, which made it impossible for various platforms to adapt the same content.
A headless CMS is a content management system that serves content as data to multiple devices or platforms via application programming interface (API), rather than having content restricted to a specific website or app.
A headless CMS refers to any kind of back-end content management system where the ‘body’, content repository is separated from the ‘head’, presentation layer.
This means that by using headless CMS, teams can use one housed content repository to deliver content to various frontend platforms, such as TVs, websites, and mobile apps, etc. from one single source via API.
Some platforms with traditional content management systems provide a headless API, that allows teams or companies to send contents to a separate presentation layer. This method is called ‘headless’ as the presentation layer is separated or decoupled from the body.
One method of solving the restrictions of traditional content management systems is to implement a headless CMS. Cutting off a presentation layer will create a headless CMS if the presentation layer of the content is the head of the content management system.
Although headless CMS allows teams and companies to choose a suitable presentation layer or head for a digital platform, there is an underlying issue that still remains unsolved, that is to create content in a way so that it can be reusable on various channels and platforms.
Now that we have understood what headless CMS is, let us take a look at how headless CMS works.
A headless CMS works in two ways:
1. By providing editors with a connection to manage contents
2. By providing content for developers and experts via API with which they can build applications.
The majority of headless content management systems will offer a Software as a Service (SaaS), where editors will have to log into an application and the APIs are hosted in a cloud-based backend.
A few headless CMSes will allow companies to hold the whole solution in their own database and server. This means that enterprises and teams will have to perform their own scaling and operations.
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