By all means, I consider Headless CMS Software to be a sub-set of decoupled CMS software in terms of content management. That’s because a decoupled CMS is headless, and then some. With a decoupled CMS software — also known as a hybrid headless CMS — your content is managed separately and is front-end agnostic, just like a headless CMS.
Yet, it has front-end delivery tools in the box, like templates, if you want to use them. The difference is that the back-end and front-end are not “coupled” to each other through a database like with a traditional CMS. Instead, the front-end and back-end communicate to each other through calls to an API.
So, remember when I chopped the “head” off a traditional CMS to make it headless? Well, we’ll imagine the same scenario here. Except for this time, I kept the head. Meaning, it’s not attached to the main body as with a traditional CMS.
What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
A Content Management System (aka CMS software) is an application that is used to manage and publish web content. While allowing multiple users to contribute, create, edit, publish without having to beg a developer.
It also provides version management and authoring workflow to keep large, global sites consistent. In reality, the Content Management System isn’t just about just a backend management interface, though. Since it also makes all of the content that you create show up for your visitors exactly as you want it to.
And on a more technical level, a majority of CMS software systems are made up of two core parts. And as such, we can further break it down into two main parts that help create your website.
The key components of CMS software include:
- Content Management Application (CMA)
- Content Delivery Application (CDA)
The Content Management Application (CMA) is the part that allows you to actually add and manage content on your site (like you saw above). While the Content Delivery Application (CDA) is the backend, behind-the-scenes process.
That, eventually, takes the content you input in the CMA, stores it properly, and makes it visible to your visitors. Together, the two systems make it easy to maintain your website. As well as manage and publish web content.
And as a result, it allows multiple users to contribute, create, edit, publish without having to beg a developer.
Why is CMS Software important?
In reality, there are so many benefits of using CMS software. Bearing in mind, in the early days of creating websites, HTML formatting tags were embedded along with the text. But, with the introduction of cascading style sheets (CSS), there began a movement to separate content.
Separating the content from formatting and programming proved to be a powerful way to control the look of a website. For example, by changing a setting in a CSS file, you could change the entire look and feel of any site component. Without changing the content itself for sure.
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The most powerful aspect of CMS software as a web design platform is its ability to clearly help you create a new website. At times, even if it’s from scratch! Without working directly with the source code for the page.
From experience, learning to code is the same as learning another language (or a series of languages that work together), giving it a large learning curve. But such web platforms rarely let you work directly with the code. Instead, they’ll allow you to work with a predefined system or interface.
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Among others, WordPress web pages and posts screen are good examples of how such an interface works. While Joomla is best-suited to complex websites that need more flexibility. This often includes medium business websites and extensive content websites like Wikipedia.
And as such, you’ll have all the tools you need to manage an extensive website. You can even have a complex business website with Joomla. However, if you’re starting a large corporate website, you should choose Drupal instead.
What Is Decoupled CMS Software?
In the early days of creating websites, HTML formatting tags were embedded along with the text. With the introduction of cascading style sheets (CSS), there began a movement to separate content that made up a web page from the formatting, referred to as the presentation layer.
For example, by changing a setting in a CSS file, you could change the entire look and feel of any site component without changing the content. Today content management systems extrapolate on that same concept.
Without having an effect on the content of the site. Traditional or legacy CMS systems are not separated but are coupled systems, so the front and back end and content are built into a single system.
What is the difference of Headless CMS vs Decoupled CMS?
First of all, before we look into the details of the advantages of using headless CMS software, it’s good to note some other differences it has with decoupled CMS software. So, let’s dig a little deeper into what makes these two models so different.
With a headless CMS, you have modeling and editorial tools to create and edit content. But the concept of “publishing” content just means making it available via an API. It assumes that you and your nerdy front-end development team can handle the rest with whichever frameworks and tools you prefer.
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A decoupled CMS software, on the other hand, doesn’t assume anything. It does everything a headless CMS does, but it doesn’t stop there. It also says, “Hey, we’ve got some templating tools here so you aren’t working from scratch.”
That’s just good manners, right? Even Blend Interactive CSO, Deane Barker, summed up the difference between decoupled and headless content management quite succinctly:
A decoupled CMS is proactive — it prepares content for presentation and pushes it into a delivery environment. A headless CMS is reactive — it manages content, then just sits and waits for some process to ask for it.
For marketers, this subtle difference can be a significant one.
Before using a headless or decoupled CMS software,
One of the key advantages of using traditional CMS software is that it uses templates, WYSIWYG editing, and other special tools. Some of which are also customarily seen within decoupled CMS systems too. Unfortunately, many of those tools are not available in a headless CMS architecture.
However, purely headless systems allow more control over how the content appears on each type of device. So, it’s more fun for eager front-end developers, but less fun for non-tech savvy marketers. Perse, the headless content management model is equally growing in popularity.
And for this reason, many webmasters are opting in to use it — we’ll explore more on why it’s growing in popularity later on. But before that, another great benefit to put into consideration too is that they’re front-end agnostic
So that you can go ahead and evaluate the models for yourself. Both headless CMS and decoupled CMS software are some of the best front-end framework agnostic tools. Meaning that you can publish content on any device or channel via API calls.
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Plus, front-end developers are free to use their favorite frameworks and tools. And then, they’ve great API tools too. Whereby, the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable two technologies to speak to each other.
Both headless or decoupled environments use APIs to connect and communicate with other software and channels, allowing for content delivery. But that’s not all. APIs can also be used to send data (like end-user activity and preferences) from those channels, devices, and touchpoints back to the CMS.
For further processing, analysis, and re-distribution. Not only that but they’re also future-proof. APIs aren’t just ready to talk to any existing software or device, they’re prepared to speak to any new device. Or even new channels that emerge year after year.
Thus, your content will remain future-proof, no matter what innovative device next hits the market.
How to Choose the Best CMS Software Solution
Of course, all of the above-listed perks come at a cost. Each business must weigh the option of whether or not investing in CMS is a smart decision or wasted expenditure. Answering some of the following questions can help you select the right content management system for your business or organization.
Personally, I recommend partnering with a CMS software expert to review your options and decide which platform best fits your organization’s needs. And whether or not you’ll choose to buy or subscribe to one of the CMS platforms on the market, it’s important to vet vendors and providers first.
By so doing, you’ll be able to partner with one that is trustworthy — to provide you with the right features for your content management needs.
And now that CMS applications have abounded on the market, each has its unique features and levels of service. That said, below are some questions and answers to consider in the evaluation process:
1. What is your budget & business operations?
First of all, if you have infinite resources to spend, there are some very complex CMS software at your disposal. With features designed to make content creators’ and editors’ lives easier. But, with a limited budget, your choices will be more limited.
Secondly, as for business operations, which ones does the CMS need to support? After price, the next major consideration is which business operations the CMS software will need to support. Some questions to ask yourself first include:
- Does your company need to publish hundreds of new videos a day?
- Change prices on thousands of SKUs per day?
- Host images for blog posts?
I would also second a Web Content Management System that easily supports multi-language channels. A multi-channel delivery not only makes this job much easier but, it also empowers local brand and content managers to run localized campaigns. Especially, on the channels best suited for their markets while maintaining the global brand identity.
2. What technologies does the CMS need to support or integrate with?
If your company already uses a CRM, ERP, or web analytics program, you’ll need to consider a CMS software that integrates easily with your other existing online marketing software. Also, you should consider how easy it’ll be to create and edit your content.
For one thing, the larger the company, the more removed the end-user of the CMS software will be from the person who implements it. Ideally, the system will be easy to use and intuitive, with features like a WYSIWYG editor.
Making sure your business is secure from cyber attacks is incredibly important also. Not only do attacks interrupt the continuity of your business, but they also cost you huge amounts. Luckily, most CMS software — like WordPress, comes with a fairly robust set of security features. Such as advanced authentication, strict permissions, firewalls, and protection against malware attacks.
3. Is the Web Content Management System User-friendly?
Empowering your employees to support your globalization efforts starts with simplifying the process they use to do so. It’s, therefore, good to use a content management system that is intuitive for the end-user. And that allows employees to quickly re-use branded components too.
Such as images, designs, and experiences. And for sure, this will greatly encourage teams to take ownership of the local experience — especially if it also allows all users to use the system in their preferred language. A system that supports straightforward approval workflows will make the lives of brand managers easier too.
It’ll also, in turn, support continued effort and excellence in the globalization process. More so, to further support your global teams in their localization of the brand into new markets, it’s crucial that they can quickly evaluate the results of their efforts. And then take autonomous actions based on this feedback.
The easiest way to do this is to ensure that the CMS/WCM you use has built-in experimentation capabilities. Allowing for easy testing of content and experience elements — whether on desktop, mobile, or other channels.
4. What about Personalization, Analytics, and Scalability
I would also strongly recommend a WCM system that allows you to automatically personalize digital experience elements too. Like promotional campaigns, graphics content, or product artwork grids to provide more agility to global teams. Why? For they can easily create variants of the site experience from one global system.
It will also allow businesses more control over the global brand, supporting globalization at scale. And that reminds me, you should also use a content management system that has a built-in analytics engine too. So that your marketing teams, content creators, and brand managers can easily spot visitor trends and opportunities.
Particularly, for improvement in the digital experience based on local visitor data. Also, businesses that run their WCM in the cloud will be able to scale their globalization efforts much faster. With development teams able to roll out updates to the digital experience worldwide with just a few clicks.
5. How many different groups of users will there be?
One consideration will be the various different levels of administration privileges that are required. In this case, you’ll need to consider the various user roles. Including the role of managers in reviewing scheduled content.
Likewise, is the platform SEO-friendly? If SEO is important to your company, you will want CMS software that automatically handles basic on-page optimization tasks. Such as title tags, URLs, alt tags on images, and a sound internal linking structure.
And then as an addition, how large is your developer community? Some of the CMS platforms, particularly WordPress and Drupal, often come with very large developer communities. The advantage to a sizable community is the amount of online help and documentation you will find on most aspects of customization.
It’s even better if the system can provide this information per persona. Giving you much more precision in optimizing the content served to your visitors around the world. While taking advantage of the uptime and continuous improvements offered by cloud providers.
How to Build a Website with a Content Management System
So, do you want to build your own website with a content management system? If so, the general process looks something like this:
- Purchase web hosting and a domain name
- Install your content management system of choice on your web server
- Configure the content management system to dictate how your site looks and functions
- Start writing content using the content management system’s interface
It’s actually surprisingly simple. And hosts like Kinsta can even help install the content management system for you (WordPress, in this case). So that you can jump straight into building your site without any technical setup.
Examples of Popular Content Management Systems
In the first lace, WordPress, which I showed you above, is the best example of a popular content management system. Of course, there are certainly other content management systems in existence. But of them all, the WordPress market share maintains over 39.5% on websites with a known content management system.
Note that when I mention “WordPress”, I’m not talking about WordPress.com. Instead, I am focusing my attention on WordPress.org as the main CMS software for webmasters. After all, which is the website where the actual open-source WordPress content management system is stored.
Beyond the self-hosted WordPress software, other popular content management systems that you should know about too. As well as other less well-known content management systems that target themselves to large enterprises (with an expensive price point to match).
Best Self-Hosted Blogging Platforms:
Best Hosted Blogging Platforms:
Among those, as I listed above, which is your Best Blogging Platform for your site? Well, in my opinion, it highly depends on your intention with the blog. The best option who want to create a personal blog is probably a free hosted solution. Let’s say, like WordPress, Blogger, or Medium.
As can be seen, using a decoupled CMS software has so many attached benefits. For instance, a decoupled CMS doesn’t suffer from the same limitations that a headless CMS has. Instead, it’s headless, and more, as the list of advantages demonstrates.
In short, it has all the benefits of a headless CMS. And as discussed earlier, a decouples CMS is essentially a headless CMS with full-CMS capabilities. Hence, a decoupled CMS gives you the same advantages you’d get with a headless CMS — and then some optional front-end templates.
Unlike a pure headless CMS, a decoupled CMS will likely provide you with templates to help launch websites and pages quickly. And to give your developers a head start on any other front-end presentation layer they wish to build.
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All in all, it has all the tools marketers love. A decoupled CMS doesn’t just give marketers their templates back, it also provides WYSIWYG editing. As well as content previews, and additional content publishing tools.
That’s it! You now know what a decoupled CMS software is, how it works, and why you should use it. But, if you’ll have additional thoughts, contributions, suggestions, or questions, you can share them in our comments sections. Or even Contact Us for additional help and support.
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