The Case for a Headless CMS

by Joe Hochgreve, Web Developer

As a back-end content management system, a headless CMS isn’t tied to a website’s architecture. Instead, it serves content and nothing more. The code and database that drive the content aren’t directly linked to a website’s performance or looks.

What is a Headless CMS?

At its core, a headless CMS provides content to a website. A headless CMS servers are separate from hosting servers that maintain the website. That allows an existing WordPress user to be familiar with modifying content while keeping part of the programming fast and efficient.

For example, WordPress has an application program interface (API) that allows access to all content. That doesn’t mean WordPress should be used in all headless cases; however, it’s a viable option.

But What’s Wrong with Traditional CMS Systems?

Traditional CMS such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal allow you to build a site’s front-end experience right from the CMS. That creates ease of use.

However, that convenience comes with drawbacks:

  • Security issues: Hosting your database, server-side code and front-end code all in one place creates intrinsic security issues. A single hack gives the invasive party access to them all. Furthermore, many traditional CMS platforms rely heavily on third-party plugins for functionality. If a third party doesn’t keep its plugin updated, there can be security holes.
  • Speed: Most traditional CMS websites have a speed deficit because of third-party plugins and themes, less expensive hosting options, and outdated architectural designs. Some of those issues can be resolved by using a plugin to optimize the code but relying on them is not always a safe bet.
  • Database reliance: While headless websites require API and micro-services for content and data, they’re not completely controlled by them. Traditional CMS websites can use micro-services and APIs, but the bulk of their content comes from one database on one server.

Advantages of a Headless CMS

Front-end freedom: Because a headless CMS is not tied to a website’s code, it allows developers to code the site or application in the most appropriate language and framework for the job. That typically means:

  • Customized and strategic development
  • Fewer architectural hurdles
  • Less front-end maintenance


Speed: Because the website/application isn’t tied to the CMS, it’s possible to load resources from elsewhere while pulling the content from the API, which helps the site load faster.

Omni-channel capabilities: Are you interested in developing multiple platforms such as a mobile app, company intranet or Internet of Things? A headless CMS will be your best friend. Because of its independent interface, a headless CMS can act as a repository for all your content regardless of how it’s served.

Less maintenance: Every website requires a certain level of upkeep. However, most headless platforms aren’t open sources like WordPress. Because a headless CMS only serves content, the code is handled by the platform providers.

Scalability: Content is loaded on demand, so large amounts of content won’t slow down your website. You can also change the front-end technology of a website without altering your CMS. Headless CMS platforms update the CMS back-end technology because that’s their sole function.

Easier to change services: In most cases, the CMS is not linked to the website’s front-end, so it’s much simpler to change CMS providers if you find one that better suits your needs.

The team at TouchStone Digital will walk you through the process of using a headless CMS so you can optimize your website’s efficiency and functionality. Call 419-299-9000 or contact us online to get started.

Share article

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email