Why go Headless? 5 points to consider

Published: 16.12.2019
Author: Ari Ruuska, Solution Architect
Categories: Technology, Security
Reading time: 3 min
A woman with a laptop in her hand helding it in front of her face

Pros and cons of headless solutions — what makes headless an excellent choice for your digital solution.

The word in software development right now is headless. One could even say that the whole industry is in a frenzy over it. In a nutshell, headless is a system that doesn't have a graphical user interface. In Headless, the content management system (CMS) is separated from the front-end, the layer displaying the content.

A frenzy often leads to overreactions, both in excitement and in criticism. One should note that headless is merely a technical solution, one that doesn’t solve anything by itself, but instead makes several different solutions possible. Actually, instead of using the word frenzy, I would call headless a trend. In my 20-year career in a technical role in the IT business, I’ve seen plenty of trends come and go. Some have proven their worth by making a profound impact on the industry. Headless clearly is one of them.

Like I said above, headless is not the answer to everything, but it enables the building of good, sustainable solutions. This is why it is crucial to begin by figuring out what the business needs that we want to fulfill with Headless.
In this article, I will list five advantages that Headless has in building an online service.

1. Long life cycle

When purchasing a large service package, questions about its life cycle always come up. A substantial investment naturally calls for a long life cycle.
As in all manifestations of microservice architecture, one of the most significant business advantages of headless is the easy replaceability of its parts.
It is always a challenging task to assess the life cycle of a technical solution, be it a licensed product or an open-source solution. However, the amount of uncertainty can be reduced. Instead of putting all eggs in one basket, the technical solution is diversified.

2. Multi-channel publishing

The second strength of Headless lies in publishing simultaneously on multiple channels. When CMS is separated from the content-displaying layer, it is also possible to publish content separately on several different channels. If an organization has several online services, headless makes it possible to control all the content with just one CMS. This can save a lot of money, for example in CMS integrations.

3. High-level data security

The third remarkable feature of headless is the option to build significantly higher data security for an online service than in a traditional monolithic CMS, in which the layer displaying the content resides within the same system. It is essential to take into consideration the fact that headless simply makes it possible to respond to data security requirements, but it is not the sole answer. It is the final implementation of Headless that defines whether the security requirements are met.

4. Best possible performance

The fourth advantage of headless is its high level of performance. Once again, with a relatively small amount of effort, headless can make it possible for a system to perform more efficiently, compared to a traditional CMS solution.
Depending on how a Headless solution is implemented, an online service can be built to perform incredibly fast. In turn, a system performing on a very high level offers an opportunity to reach many business goals, such as a smooth user experience.

5. Great user experience

It is exactly the user experience that is the fifth significant benefit that headless carries. With the right technological choices, headless enables both SPA (Single Page Application) and PWA (Progressive Web Application). In an online service, this basically means a user interface that works as smoothly and quickly as possible. However, just the implementation of headless is not a promise of great UX, but it offers the possibility to reach it.

To conclude: When done right, headless is an excellent option.

Finally, I would like to bring up an extremely important point. Creating an excellent, or even a good Headless solution, requires more expertise than building a traditional CMS solution. When online services are done headless, many of the features that are taken for granted in a traditional CMS solution have to be created separately and taken into consideration at a whole new level. Still, in the right hands and for the right need, headless is an excellent choice and a powerful enabler.

In short, headless comes out on top when you are planning to:

  • Build an online service with a long life cycle
  • Publish on multiple platforms online
  • Build an online service that requires high data security
  • Have your online service perform at the highest possible level
  • Run an app-like online service or a PWA application produced from an online service

If you wish to discuss further how Headless could best serve your organization, do not hesitate to contact us. Let’s find a way for headless to act as a catalyst for your success with digital.

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