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Traditional vs. headless CMS

Traditional vs. headless CMS

Traditional CMSs are all-in-one software applications that allow you to achieve, modify, create and visualise content online without requiring coding knowledge. In fact, the backend (code and database) is strictly connected to the frontend (layout and design).

Headless CMSs, on the other hand, are content management systems that separate the frontend (i.e. the user interface) from the backend (the database and the content management system). This is where the name comes from: the head (frontend) does not play any role, it's headless. This way, content can be published on any platform or device and developers can fully personalise the layout and style of a website or application. 


When to use a traditional CMS

A traditional CMS can be a good choice if: 

  • You don't need extremely customised solutions for the frontend of your website. 

  • Only the website is used for the publishing of content.

  • No advanced customised functionalities or complex third party integrations are needed

  • You want complete control over content.

Overall, a traditional CMS is the ideal choice if you need a standardised website that is easy to use for your business. 


When to use a headless CMS

A headless CMS may be a good choice if you:

  • want to create flexible and scalable solutions

  • need to publish and distribute content on different platforms or devices.

  • require advanced content customisation features

  • must perform complex third-party integrations.

A headless CMS is the right choice if you need a high degree of flexibility and customisation for your website or app. Also, compared to traditional CMSs, a headless CMS is able to manage a great quantity of traffic and provide faster performance. 


Examples of traditional CMSs:

There are many traditional CMSs available, here are some popular ones:

  • WordPress: one of the most used CMSs worldwide, with a vast selection of plugins and themes. 

  • Joomla: an open-source CMS offering many advanced functionalities for content management.

  • Drupal: another open-source CMS delivering a high degree of flexibility and customisation. 

  • Magento: a CMS specialising in the management of e-commerce websites.

  • Squarespace: a CMS that allows you to create professional websites with predefined templates.

These are just some examples of traditional CMSs, there are many other available.


Examples of headless CMSs:

Here are some examples of popular headless CMSs:

  • Contentful: a content management platform offering a wide range of APIs to enable developers to create customised applications on any device or channel.

  • Strapi: an open-source headless CMS that allows customised APIs and flexible content management.

  • Kentico Kontent: a cloud-based headless CMS offering advanced customisation and team collaboration features.

  • Prismic: a cloud-based headless CMS that allows the creation of customised APIs for web and mobile applications.

  • ButterCMS: a cloud-based headless CMS offering flexible and customisable content management functionality for web and mobile applications.

These are just a few examples of headless CMSs, but there are many others available on the market, each with its own features and functionality.


A special mention: Shopify Hydrogen

We had already introduced Shopify Hydrogen in detail in our article "Hydrogen and Oxygen: Shopify's headless commerce" but it still deserves a special mention. Shopify Hydrogen is a headless CMS that allows developers to create high-quality, personalised shopping experiences on any device or channel.

With Hydrogen, developers can use Shopify's API to integrate the website backend with the custom frontend, allowing for more flexibility and customisation than with traditional CMSs. Hydrogen also provides a wide range of tools and features for custom theme development, including local development tools, integrations with hosting platforms and automatic deployment services.


Which CMS should I choose?

Choosing between a traditional and a headless CMS always depends on the specific needs of your project because both types of CMS have their advantages and disadvantages.

A traditional CMS, WordPress for example, may prove to be the right choice if you want a website with very standardised functionalities and a default layout. Another plus point for traditional CMSs concerns the limited need for technical programming knowledge, because most traditional CMS platforms provide a wide range of predefined plugins and themes that can be easily customised. However, that is also a disadvantage because a traditional CMS is consequently lacking in flexibility and rather limiting in terms of customisation and third-party integrations.

On the other hand, a headless CMS is perfect if you want a high degree of flexibility and customisation, such as integrating your website with mobile applications or other devices. It is also a good choice if you want to create a customised and highly interactive user experience, because a headless CMS allows you to create dynamic and customised content. However, a headless CMS certainly requires a certain technical background for configuration and customisation and may therefore be more expensive to implement.


How can we help?

DevInterface is a company specialised in developing CMS solutions for its clients. Thanks to our experience and knowledge with both approaches, we are able to help our clients choose the solution that best suits their needs, be it a traditional or headless CMS. In addition, we offer customised development services to implement the chosen solution, ensuring an easy and intuitive content management experience for our customers.

Contact us today to find out how we can help your company get the most out of your online content and if you are interested, you can take a look at the technologies we use.