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"A headless CMS can be worthwile with just one channel"

With Headless CMS, once created content can be published on different channels. The classic link between backend and frontend is broken. Olaf Kaiser-Otto, Application Architect at Unic, reveals how this works and for whom it is worthwhile.

Interview: Oliver Schneider ("Netzwoche")

CMS through the ages: from website thinking to content thinking

Content management systems (CMS) can do more and more, which brings many advantages. But are there also disadvantages?

Olaf Kaiser-Otto: In recent years, CMS has experienced a large increase in functions such as extensive personalization functions, campaign management and multi-channel integrations. The role of a CMS is changing: On the one hand, companies have digitized many central processes and information sources and expect them to integrate seamlessly into a CMS. On the other hand, there are more and more new, very heterogeneous information channels such as apps, social media and wearables. The growing complexity of content management solutions is often reflected in higher maintenance costs and complicated editorial interfaces.

Olaf Kaiser-Otto
Olaf Kaiser-Otto

 

What is the problem of classic content management systems?

Classic CMS are a special form, namely so-called web content management systems. They are historically focused on the one output channel "website" and structure all content accordingly as pages with relationships to other pages. This leads authors to think in terms of websites instead of concentrating on content. The content structured in this way can hardly be used for other channels and is difficult to combine with existing services such as product information or CRM systems.

How does Headless CMS manage to deliver content across multiple channels, unlike traditional applications?

Headless CMS addresses two challenges: First, they replace a channel-specific frontend with an interface. Any channel can access the content via this interface. On the other hand, Headless CMS also separates presentation and content at the editorial level. The content is no longer superimposed on the "website" structure. Instead, a content model is defined that corresponds to the actual content structures – such as products, articles or news – and their relationships to each other.

Higher content quality thanks to a clear focus

How exactly does the use of microservices work with a Headless CMS?

Microservices are an approach to divide the complex requirements of CMS solutions into manageable components. A Headless CMS can be understood as a content service that focuses on content maintenance. The channel-specific output and features such as personalization or campaign management are then handled by specialized services. These receive the content via the Headless CMS interface.

How many channels does a company have to use to make a Headless CMS worthwhile?

A Headless CMS can be worthwhile with just one channel. Even a corporate website profits from the separation of content and presentation, because the content quality can be increased by focusing on the content model.

A Headless CMS not only increases flexibility, but also complexity. How can users cope with this challenge?

For the users of a Headless CMS, the maintenance processes tend to be simpler, but more abstract. Instead of a visual editing of a page, Headless CMS often have a form-based approach to content maintenance. Our experience with this is surprisingly positive: The users are very satisfied with this solution because it is often more manageable. In addition, the editorial department is no longer responsible for the layout – this is done by the output channel which creates clear responsibilities and increases confidence in the system.

This interview is published with kind permission of "Netzwoche". You can find the original text here.