Choosing the Best Headless CMS: What You Need to Know

Looking for a headless CMS that fits your business needs like a glove? It's no secret, choosing the right headless CMS can be overwhelming. But fear not! These top five considerations will help you pick the perfect one for your team's needs. Developers and content creators unite; let's simplify your workflow together.

How to choose headless CMS

Congratulations on deciding to go headless with your content management system! This is a smart move that brings numerous benefits. However, the next step is choosing the right headless CMS for your organization, and that's where things get a bit trickier. This decision carries significant implications for your entire business and can have long-lasting effects. Each team member, whether they are developers, marketers, or content creators, will have their own unique needs that must be taken into account. But it's not just about your team. The CMS you choose will impact how you interact with your customers across different channels and touchpoints throughout their digital journey. 

So, it's crucial to select a CMS that can provide an exceptional digital experience for your customers while also being user-friendly for your team. In this article, we'll delve into the five key considerations that will help you select the best headless CMS for your organization. Let's get started!

5 Key Considerations for Selecting the Best Headless CMS

1. Tailored to Fit - a CMS that Meets Your Business Needs

The first step is to identify your business needs from a headless CMS. This includes which channels and devices you want to publish content to, your marketing team's goals, and the specific needs of your development teams.

Let's say you own an online fashion store that sells clothing, shoes, and accessories for both men and women. You want to provide a seamless shopping experience for your customers across multiple channels, including your website, mobile app, social media platforms, and email marketing campaigns.

To achieve this, you need a headless CMS to deliver content and product information to all these channels in real-time. Your marketing team also wants to be able to track customer behavior and personalize their shopping experience based on their preferences and past purchases. Meanwhile, your development team needs a CMS that is flexible, scalable, and easy to integrate with your existing tech stack.

In addition to the needs of different teams, there are a few company-specific considerations when choosing a headless CMS:

  • Composability: Choose a system that can evolve with your changing business needs and make your website future-ready; for example, Drupal boasts around 9,000 free modules and plugins.
  • Video and Multimedia Integrations: Ensure that the system supports best-of-breed third-party video services and has image editing capabilities and content delivery network integration.
  • Internationalization and Localization: If your content needs to be translated into different languages or otherwise account for locale-specific nuances, choose a system that supports internationalization and localization.
  • Community Support: Consider the level of community support and activity around a given headless CMS product. Open-source technologies like Drupal tend to have more robust online communities, which can be helpful for content creators and developers alike.

2. Developer Ease - a User-Friendly CMS

The ease of use for developers is a critical factor in selecting a headless CMS. Keep in mind that headless CMSs tend to be more technically demanding than traditional systems, so your development team will play a crucial role in bringing your digital experience to life.

The dev team will choose front-end coding and UI frameworks since the front end is a blank slate. However, there are several things to consider when it comes to developer-focused functionality on the back end. You should look for mature REST APIs, secure and preview APIs, and the actual content management APIs used on the backend. Details like whether there's a limit to the API calls that can be made are important when it comes to usability for developers.

Developers often require support for GraphQL data queries and manipulation for APIs, a feature that should be high on your list of must-haves. Additionally, to make life easier for developers, you'll want to ensure that the system's native SDKs are compatible with all the coding frameworks, languages, and technologies the dev team prefers. By keeping these factors in mind, you can choose a headless CMS that will be a valuable asset to your organization and help your development team achieve their goals.

3. Omnichannel Delivery - Delivering Seamless Capabilities

Don't be baffled by buzzwords like "omnichannel" when it comes to headless CMS. Instead, take a closer look at what this feature really means for your organization. Essentially, omnichannel capability allows you to publish your content across multiple channels, reaching your customers wherever they are and providing a consistent user experience across all devices and interfaces.

Of course, you'll likely want to publish to your website and mobile apps, but what about less conventional channels like IoT devices, digital signage, and voice-controlled UIs? If these are important to your organization, make sure the CMS you choose has APIs on the back-end that can easily support these channels.

Again let’s assume you work for a fashion retail company that wants to promote its new product line. With a headless CMS that has omnichannel capability, you can create a single piece of content, such as an article about the new product line, and publish it across multiple channels. First, you publish the article on your company's website, making sure it's optimized for SEO and different devices. But your company also wants to reach potential customers through less conventional channels. With the headless CMS, you can easily publish the same article to digital signage in your physical store, as well as to IoT devices like smart mirrors that customers can interact with while trying on clothes. You also want to reach customers through voice-controlled UIs, so you publish the article in a format optimized for smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home.

A top-notch headless CMS will use content APIs that can automatically push out headlines, imagery, body copy, and other pieces of content to various channels, all in the format that's best suited for the device or interface. Plus, it will automatically generate the necessary metadata to help your content stand out and be seen on all platforms. For example, Drupal can generate tags to optimize your content for voice search. With an omnichannel headless CMS, you can ensure that your content reaches your audience wherever they are, in a format that suits them best.

4. Smooth Workflows - Streamlining Content Creation for All

Don't get lost in the flashy features and fancy jargon when it comes to choosing a modern CMS. At the heart of any great CMS is the content it manages. But how it handles content creation and authoring role workflows can vary significantly, so it's essential to choose a system that meets the needs of the people who'll be using it every day.

Your authors and editors are the backbone of the content creation process, and they'll be spending the most time in the CMS, so their comfort level and ability to manage content without relying on developers are critical to the system's success. At larger organizations, authoring roles can become complicated, with multiple users requiring varying levels of access permissions. Mapping out these roles early in the process can help determine the CMS pricing and ensure the system can handle multiple workflows.

One crucial aspect to pay attention to is how the CMS handles content previews. With headless systems lacking a front-end display layer by default, previewing content across different devices can be tricky. But with the right system, you can easily preview and ensure that your content looks great on all devices, from desktop to mobile and beyond. So, don't forget to keep your focus on the content and the workflow that makes creating and managing it a breeze.

5. Quality Support - Ensuring Your Business Gets the Help it Deserves

When it comes to content management systems, technical and sales support is crucial to keep everything running smoothly. While having developers on-site can be helpful, there may come a time when you need to reach out to the CMS vendor for support. It's essential to choose a vendor with a strong support team that's available around the clock, every day of the year. That way, you can avoid the frustration of waiting for a response and get back to focusing on your business. Don't let support issues slow you down - choose a CMS vendor with the support you need to keep your system running smoothly.

Imagine you've just launched a new website for your business using a CMS, but you notice that some pages are loading slowly or not displaying correctly. Your on-site developers are stumped and can't seem to figure out what's causing the issue. This is when you'll need to reach out to the CMS vendor for support. But what if they don't have a strong support team or aren't available when you need them? You could be left waiting for hours, even days, for a response, causing frustration and potentially losing business in the meantime.

Streamline Your Path to Delivering Future-Ready Digital Experiences

In conclusion, selecting the perfect headless CMS for your business requires careful consideration of several factors. A few of these factors include:

  • Identifying your business needs
  • Ensuring developer-friendliness and ease of use
  • Selecting a CMS with omnichannel capabilities that deliver on all fronts
  • Taking into account the specific needs of your development, marketing, and content creation teams
  • Considering factors such as composability, video and multimedia integrations, internationalization and localization, and community support

By keeping these considerations in mind, you can select the best headless CMS that will provide a future-ready and flexible website, and reliable digital experience for your customers while simplifying your team's workflows. So, take the time to evaluate your options, ask for demos, and involve your teams in the decision-making process. With the right headless CMS in place, you can take your digital experiences to the next level and stay ahead of the competition.

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