The use of a headless CMS, such as Contentful, can provide a number of benefits that do not necessarily relate directly to headless CMS, but arise naturally when you build your systems around a headless CMS. We deep dive into the lessons we at Novataris have learnt in our daily work when we have been responsible for implementing headless CMS for our customers.
Talking about IT architecture can get a bit boring, but it is also particularly important. That is where the hidden advantages of a headless CMS lie.
When we look back at the cooperation with our customers, it becomes clear that the IT architecture has a major impact on how efficiently an IT project is developed. The benefits you gain from this efficiency often have far greater practical significance for your organisation than the benefits advertised with regards to headless CMS (e.g., easier to reuse content, easier to scale your website, reuse content across content channels, better security and better performance).
The benefits you can gain from improving your IT architecture can be divided into two categories: effective development and technical advantages.
Smaller and more frequent deployment to production
Easier to test
Easier to maintain
Better separation of components reduces complexity
Better potential for scaling the application
Easier to make integrations with other systems
Greater flexibility, which makes it easier to update or replace parts of the solution
Both yes and no.
Once you have decided to switch to headless CMS, you need to decide how it will fit in and how you will work with it. For example, in the previous CMS system, everything was gathered in one large clump. Here, headless CMS will have it in small chunks. This is where it can start to affect the IT architecture, as working with a new CMS system can bring weaknesses in underlying systems to the surface.
Because headless CMS often changes the way you build your front end, it is typically the first area you will want to address. From there, we often see it spread to other systems, which will then also be built with a more modern IT architecture.
Headless CMS will try to push your IT architecture in a certain direction because headless systems have an attitude towards IT architecture. This is also what we see with our customers. You start with headless CMS because it is the most tangible place to start and it points the way towards a better IT architecture.
So no, it does not change the entire IT architecture, but since headless CMS has an attitude towards how you work with your IT and existing weaknesses become clearer, it will broaden itself into a changed, but better and more efficient IT architecture over time.
Because a headless CMS is completely detached from the front end, it forces the developer to split their application into several microservices that are more or less independent of each other. This is because there is already a natural distinction between where the data comes from (a headless CMS such as Contentful) and where the data is used (in the front-end application).
When applications are divided up into microservices, the different services can be developed and published independently of each other, minimising disruption to editors and users. When a service is easy to replace in your CMS system, it is also easier to replace or add the technologies your front-end application uses. The technology is not necessarily used in the whole application but is isolated from the rest of the application in a single microservice. Because front-end technologies change rapidly, you need to constantly replace parts of your systems if you want to have a modern, up-to-date solution and avoid getting stuck with inadequate or outdated technology.
With the frequent replacement that microservices allow, we see performance improvements in relation to larger and more cohesive applications. This is particularly important in our eCommerce partnerships, where a slow website can mean a lost sale.
This type of IT architecture, which has become increasingly popular in recent years, is known as MACH architecture; Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native and Headless. In an IT architecture following the MACH principles, the overall application will be divided into microservices as mentioned above. The different microservices will expose APIs so that it is easy for other applications, internal or external, to utilise them. It may also be obvious to have a microservice that handles one or more APIs, as it is a functionality that is easy to delimit.
When the different parts of the solution are divided into microservices, you are less likely to experience errors in something you apparently have not changed because there was a hidden dependency in other parts of the application. A large unified application will more often give rise to functions that, from a business point of view, have nothing to do with each other being closely linked in the code base. These regression errors (errors that occur in a functionality that has been previously tested, delivered and accepted ) can be difficult to find and correct because there is not necessarily an obvious correlation between where the changes are made and where the error occurs. There are considerably fewer of them in the projects that use headless CMS, which are closer to the principles of a MACH architecture.
In addition to the architectural benefits, we also find that the work process becomes much smoother and efficient. When your solution is divided into microservices, smaller parts of the same solution can be replaced separately and deployments can be smaller and more frequent. The upgrades that are ready can be released without waiting for the other services to be upgraded or updated. Therefore, it will take less time to release an upgrade or MVP (Minimum Viable Product) because the time spent building a release and testing it will be shorter. Therefore, it is not far from when the work on changes begins to when you can see the improvements in users' behaviour. With fewer things to test when issuing a new release, we find that our customers save on resources. For example, if there were many changes in a release that interact with each other, then the testing phase would be much longer.
In addition, it is also a great advantage for us in our daily work that the specific functionality we are working on is separated from things that have nothing to do with it. It may sound obvious, but on large, densely interconnected projects, there will often be costs associated with developers having to navigate an unnecessarily complicated IT architecture.
Less cost on new development - you get more value for money as there is less time spent on testing and release.
Possibility of more rapid iterations on development, allowing for higher quality and better control of the result by the client.
A more stable system with fewer breakdowns.
Because the code is separated into microservices, for example, breakdowns have less impact, as it will often only be a small part of the system that goes down.
So, there are plenty of benefits to be gained by switching to a headless CMS. Even if you do not need any of the obvious benefits of a headless CMS. Most of the cost of an IT system is in development and maintenance, so the biggest gain you can make is often to make work processes more efficient. When that happens, you will see fewer errors as a bonus. With efficiency, quality will also increase, resulting in a solution that runs better and that is felt by the users of the IT system.
So, there are far greater gains to be had than it might seem at first glance when you can both renew and improve your IT architecture by switching to a headless CMS.
Do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are always ready for a no-obligation chat about your business needs and how a headless CMS can contribute to your business. You can contact us here.