Classic, headless or hybrid CMS? Maybe all of them together?

15 October 2019

From updating articles on the pages of a national daily, to changing the content of advertising totems, and modifying validation messages in banking transaction systems – CMS platforms ensure convenience and effective performance while cutting content management costs. The newest versions allow content administration at multiple endpoints at once.

For almost a quarter of a century, CMS platforms have been facilitating website content management: adding and editing posts (e.g., articles, blog posts, etc.), moderating comments, changing website design or creating and editing newsletters. Thanks to the CMS structure, these activities no longer require technical expertise in programming and basic knowledge of word processors is completely sufficient. Deploying a CMS means that there usually is no need to involve programmers in the day-to-day management of a website, including updating its contents.

What is a classic CMS?

CMS platforms usually have a section to manage website structure. The Content Editor responsible for this changes the structure of the pages in a site tree, building web portal/website navigation in this way. For this, they use modules for editing the components of the page, the WYSIWYG editor, and others.

Notably, in the classic approach, CMS generates HTML which then reaches the web browser and is presented to the end-user. This means that CMS is responsible for generating the final website, which is then sent to the end user’s browser.

Read also: Outsourcing Software Development

What is a headless CMS?

The trend for building what is called a Single-Page-Application (SPA) instead of generating ready-made HTML server-side code has gained traction in recent years. This allows the burden to be transferred from the backend (server tier) to the frontend. Building a SPA facilitates frameworks like Angular, React or Vue. This approach relies on completely separating the presentation layer (views) from the data layer. In such an architecture, CMS is only responsible for making the data available through an API, and the views layer (e.g., SPA) downloads them directly from the server from the browser context.

An example of applying a headless CMS may be using it to not only deliver content to websites but also to mobile applications and other consumer touchpoints like kiosks and advertising totems. They fetch the content directly from a server, where the editor still has a convenient panel (editor) at their disposal to manage content.

A hybrid approach to CMS?

Apart from the classic CMS and the headless version, there are also solutions that combine the capabilities of both systems.

Let’s imagine that we’re a news portal publisher that not only gives its users a web frontend but also provides a mobile app. On top of that, we also make content available to external partners like other portals.

Thanks to the hybrid approach, on the one hand, we can deliver Responsive Web Design (RWD) sites where all the HTML will be generated by a CMS platform and, on the other, we can prepare a special API where we distribute content to mobile apps and external partners.

This approach means that the editing team prepares content only once, which is then used in many “endpoints”, thus reducing creation, editing and adaptation time and costs. A hybrid approach can also be deployed on banking websites. Let’s assume that a bank has a corporate banking platform that runs on a classic CMS model. At the same time, the transaction system of this bank was developed as a Single Page Application (SPA). We use the CMS platform to deliver content to the transaction system, for instance, a product offer catalogue would be managed from the same CMS platform. The mobile banking application also has content that is managed from the very same CMS platform.

The important fact is that we’re not only talking about content in the meaning of articles. The CMS system also provides the mobile app with all the translations, like form labels, form prompts, validation messages, and product disclaimers – all of this is available through the CMS and is not hardcoded in the application.

One Supplier, Countless Benefits

An example of a flexible CMS platform that supports all the above-mentioned approaches – from the classic, through the headless, right up to the hybrid model – is Magnolia, whose certified technology partner in Poland is the Efigence Group. Not only we handle the technological aspects of implementation but we also approach projects comprehensively, successfully delivering bespoke product design, concept creation, design, development and implementation, along with support and maintenance. Cooperation with just one supplier allows the Customer to eliminate the risk of “no man’s land” emerging within a project – the Efigence Group takes full responsibility for the execution of every project.

Want to create or modify a CMS system? Please drop us an email, we’ll get in touch with you shortly.

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