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Technology
What Is a Headless Content Management System (HCMS)?
November 20 2020

Imagine your company’s public-facing website being able to serve everyone, inside and outside of your company, with rich and informative content that you can launch quickly and test out easily. Product pages would host flexible and responsive e-commerce systems that integrate with your sales and inventory pipelines and provide deeper product and brand experiences for your customers. Now imagine this multifunctional website is seamlessly delivered through an agile and accessible web interface that offers a satisfying – even exhilarating, user experience. Imagine that!

Conventional brand websites will have a hard time competing with their existing e-commerce structures offering the usual menu of choices that take a customer from a sales landing page, to a product page, to a checkout cart – and maybe to a company blog. To be competitive in today’s feverish e-commerce and B2B services landscape, you need to turn a prospective customer or client into a loyal and engaged repeat patron within the first few minutes of them landing on your website. How can you do that? By making your website too good to resist. By giving them everything they were looking for, and more!

Although the name, Headless Content Management System or Headless CMS or HCMS, may not sound very sexy to you right now – it will when you realize what it can actually do for you, your team, your company and your customers.

Depending on the business services you use – such as Salesforce, WooCommerce, and SAP – and your customer or client attraction and retention approach, you can utilize a variety of web application interfaces on the backend of your website to present a unified frontend experience to your website visitors. For example, let’s say you sell products that require unique skills to use. Maybe you even offer to certify users after they have received the proper training. Taking it one step further, your company may offer these training sessions online and in-person with highly skilled experts. You also probably send out educational newsletters, new product announcement emails, and event notices and registrations. If your required training offers different levels of certification, you likely need to track who is certified at what level – and who is teaching those various training programs.

Before HCMS, a company would likely have many systems and applications, all offering different user experiences, required to present all of that data and content. HCMS unifies these applications for your users in a manner they cannot see but will experience as a congruent web interface. Although your website may require site visitors to engage in multiple applications – for example using one application to access your supply chain data in order to confirm a product’s availability (SAP, NetSuite); another to add them to your customer pipeline (Salesforce, HubSpot); and another to view your product training videos (Vimeo, YouTube) – as well as applications to schedule and register for your training events (Eventbrite, Cvent) – their user experience in this integrated, app-driven, web environment will be smooth and cohesive.

When a Headless Content Management System backend is paired with a Single Page Application (SPA) frontend, your site visitor/customer could view a new product they were interested in buying, watch a video explaining how to use it, get their questions answered via a customer service chatbot, buy it through your checkout system, sign up for a virtual training class, add their name to your mailing list, and join your loyalty program – all using multiple applications that operate smoothly in the background while presenting a unified experience to your visitor, making their experience a pleasure – and leaving them feeling like your brand is far superior to the clunky product website they fled after the first spinning wheel of wasted loading time.

Besides offering a dynamic, integrated and agile website for your users, once developed, an HCMS integrated site makes it easier for your technical team to toggle on and off various site features through the business applications you use, allowing your website to adapt to new business practices and policies. For example, you may have a customer loyalty program signup app on your site that marketing leadership has decided is not useful. Turning that feature off – and potentially back on if marketing leadership changes their minds three months later – will no longer require managing separate CMS based templates tightly coupled to that feature, because your frontend is now designed to work well independently of its backend data sources, even as those backend data sources change. Your team can also refresh an outdated website look and feel by “re-skinning” it – without having to do a complete overhaul from front to back, potentially saving your company money on development time.

Headless Content Management Systems are the future of web and mobile app development. HCMS offers a dynamic, customizable, flexible and secure “omnichannel” digital solution that performs well across all types of devices and allows you to integrate your favorite business systems into your website for client-facing use and backend administrative and sales use – from your robust customer database and supply chain/inventory software, to your simple event scheduling and video sharing platforms – and everything in between.

Perhaps the best feature of Headless CMS is that your customers will never know that all of that digital technology is working in the background to make their experience with your brand’s website exceptional, engaging and easy to navigate.

Want to learn how a HCMS can be designed for your website? Contact us and we’ll show you what it can do for you!

Culture Foundry is a next-level digital agency that helps you thrive in digital. We build, evolve and support websites and applications for clients who are graduating to the next level of complexity in their digital ventures. Our uncommon strengths are headless CMS architectures, design systems and 24/7 support. If you're not thriving in digital, you can be: Contact us to learn more.

(Psst! We also happen to be a great place to work.)

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