Blogs
Alexandra Barcelona
Director of Marketing

A Pure Headless CMS is a Pure Nightmare for Marketers

Jul 29, 2019

By: Alexandra Barcelona

Headless architecture gained traction due to the demand for content across a growing variety of channels and devices. Delivering content exclusively to a web browser and mobile app simply isn’t enough to impress the average consumer anymore.

But as more brands adopt pure headless content management systems, we’re noticing that — while developers may be in dreamland — marketers are dealing with a nightmare. 

What is a Headless CMS?

A conventional CMS platform consists of a back-end and front-end. The back-end holds the content, while the front-end dictates the delivery of that content. It’s a formula that has served us well in the past, but going forward, brands need to go beyond websites and mobile apps, which means a rigid front-end that’s tightly coupled with the back-end only serves to restrict the content and the experiences that brands want for consumers.

With a pure headless CMS on the other hand, that rigid, restrictive, and tightly-coupled front-end is totally removed, leaving nothing but the back-end. Throw in some APIs, and you can now deliver your content to any browser, device, or channel on the market — and any digital distribution method of the future. We’ve previously explored the definition of a headless CMS in greater detail.

Pure Headless CMSs Weren’t Built for Marketers

A headless CMS sounds like exactly what a marketer needs — a platform that helps content reach any device enables a successful IoT marketing strategy. Yet, there are some significant problems that a headless CMS poses to the average marketer. 

1. No Authoring Experience

Without a presentation layer, marketers are not able to create and edit content with a WYSIWYG editor as they would with most traditional CMSs. They also can’t preview their content before publication. The lack of a user-friendly interface in general alienates non-technical marketers from the frontend presentations of their content.

2. Over-reliance on IT

In many instances, IT teams will develop a custom-built front-end to allow marketers to utilize the headless CMS platform to carry out tasks for conversion optimization purposes like customizing the layout and the design of individual pages.

But that’s precisely the problem. Tools built by in-house teams are often lackluster in comparison to other MarTech tools on the market — plus, those products will also need to be maintained and updated by in-house teams, which is an inefficient solution to the problem a pure headless CMS creates. 

3. A Pure Headless CMS Creates a Fragmented Environment

The modern day marketer has more to do than ever before — and less time to do it. They need to engage with their audience in real-time, publish content in line with the latest trends, launch landing pages, deploy microsites, track progress, monitor data, tinker with advertising campaigns, and so much more. 

While a traditional CMS would restrict the flow of content, a headless CMS opens up the floodgates totally, forcing marketers to find various solutions to help them manage things like workflows, form building, microsite deployments, and everything in between. 

Marketers will always want to use cutting-edge technologies, but integrating a MarTech at such a scale, just to make up for the missing “head” of your CMS, soon creates a patch-work ecosystem that’s expensive and hard to manage.  

On top of complicating the life of a marketer, this all gets in the way of creating a seamless and connected customer experience.

Hybrid CMS: The Answer to the Headless Nightmare

While a headless CMS strips away a marketer’s tools, a hybrid CMS — also known as a decoupled CMS — keeps all those tools inside the box. Instead, it decoupled the back-end from the front-end, creating an architecture that serves both developers and marketers simultaneously. 

A hybrid CMS provides the user-friendliness that you find in a traditional CMS platform and the API-driven omnichannel delivery capabilities found in a headless CMS.

With a hybrid CMS, the strict separation between content and the presentation layer allows for headless content management while giving marketers an authoring experience that feels familiar.

The presentation layer that sits above the API layer allows for seamless integration and blending of different tools and technologies while leveraging previous investments in legacy applications. It’s the ideal alternative to a headless environment, where marketers are forced to cobble together their MarTech ecosystem from the bottom up. 

Recommended Reading: A Deep Dive into Hybrid CMS

A Look at dotCMS’s Hybrid CMS 

Our hybrid CMS solution embodies our ‘NoCode’ philosophy, which seeks to streamline the life of a marketer and free them up from over-reliance on the IT department. That’s done by making the following functionality available to non-technical marketers, who don’t have to write a single line of code to:

  • Build a content model and content templates
  • Create your content with simple authoring tools
  • Create an advanced approval workflow
  • Change a content object and previewing or enabling inline editing
  • Submit content to a workflow
  • Approve content in a workflow
  • Preview content before publishing and pushing to a specific environment

Moreover, dotCMS 5.1 has many features that once again highlights our drive to serve marketers just as well as we serve developers.

  • A New Page / Layout Editor: dotCMS makes it easy to make changes to the pages and layout without having to leave the page editor.
  • A Workflow Builder: Allows non-technical users to build multiple workflow schemes per content type, without writing any code. 
  • A Content-Type Builder: Users can now drag-and-drop from a list of fields to build out content types. Adding rows, columns, and changing the order of fields makes it easier to build out new content types such as web forms.
  • A New Reporting Module: Marketers using dotCMS can now integrate with Google Analytics to gain insights into their website right from the dotCMS dashboard. This visualization of your web properties can be customized to show what insights are most important to your business.
  • Edit Mode Anywhere: makes it straightforward for marketers to edit applications hosted outside the CMS like SPAs, PWAs, and more within the WYSIWYG editor. This feature solves the problem of pure headless and lets marketers edit content in-context, drag-and-drop layouts, and many of the other tasks traditional CMSs provided, without writing any code.

We’re firm believers that hybrid content management is the best way to approach the IoT-era. Watch an on-demand demo of dotCMS to see how it all comes together.

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