When it comes to B2B companies, one fact remains universal: your website must be secure, fast and scalable to stay ahead of the curve. Not only are you dealing with sensitive business data, but chances are, you own large digital estates burdened with vast amounts of content. If this sounds familiar, then you may well have come across the notion of a headless website in your search for a solution. And with 82.91% of companies reporting improved time, budget, productivity and revenue, the business case for a headless CMS is clear.
In this article, we’ll take it a step further and reveal the less-discussed advantages of adopting a headless approach so you can make an educated decision if you’re considering this solution.
But first, a quick refresh:
What is a headless CMS?
Unlike traditional CMS platforms, a headless CMS decouples the content management backend from the frontend presentation layer. So, the content is managed separately from the way it is displayed on the website, transforming the CMS into a sort of content repository. This results in an agile and flexible digital experience for both the development team and the content editors.
First, let’s explore the three major benefits of a headless website.
The three major benefits of a headless website
A headless architecture offers several advantages over traditional monolithic systems. Let’s explore the three major benefits of adopting a headless approach: security, scalability, and speed.
1. Security: Protect your website
From dealing with classified information to navigating industry-specific regulations, you know better than anyone that security is of the utmost importance in B2B.
As it includes both the frontend and backend components within the same codebase, the traditional monolithic architecture offers a large attack surface. So, any vulnerabilities in the CMS code, plugins, or themes can potentially expose the entire system. By contrast, headless CMS platforms face fewer security risks, as the disconnected front and backend offer fewer attack vectors.
Besides, headless CMS platforms often offer additional security layers, such as:
- An API-first approach, where content is delivered through APIs that can be secured using modern authentication mechanisms.
- Flexibility in backend development when choosing secure frameworks, libraries, and programming languages.
- More granular access control options that allow you to define specific permissions and roles for different users – a good practice in securing your website.
2. Scalability: Manage and grow your digital estates
B2B companies tend to have large digital estates due to the complexity of their products/services, their elaborate sales cycles, and the integration with enterprise systems. Moreover, B2B companies may require a multisite that funnels traffic to their careers hub or corporate, investor or commercial websites.
A traditional CMS can pose potential scalability problems, as any changes or updates to the CMS can impact the entire system. Moreover, as the number of distribution channels increases, it may struggle to optimally deliver digital content. This can significantly limit your online presence, as your digital products fail to offer a seamless user experience.
By decoupling the backend content storage from the frontend presentation layer, the headless CMS allows each component to scale independently. It also provides an elastic infrastructure through a scalable cloud solution that lets you dynamically adjust resources in real time based on demand.
3. Speed: Optimal UX and SEO with lightning-fast performance
Having a slow website can expose you to a wide range of performance issues. From a user perspective, never-ending load times can be a frustrating experience that results in high bounce rates and low engagement. On the other hand, when visitors can quickly access product information, complete forms, and make purchases, they are more likely to convert into customers. Moreover, the quality of user experience ultimately feeds into SEO performance. So, websites that load quickly are more likely to rank higher and gain more organic traffic.
Traditional CMS setups can cause damage to your website’s performance because of server-side rendering delays and resource-heavy page loads. By contrast, headless technology can offer a significant advantage, as it allows for client-side rendering. This means that content delivery happens on the user’s device or browser, thus reducing server-side processing. Moreover, headless CMS platforms often offer API communication protocols which enable the client-side application to retrieve only the necessary data, reducing unnecessary data transfer and improving overall performance.
As you can see, a headless approach empowers you to build secure, scalable, and high-performing websites.
Now, let’s examine exactly how it does so.
How does a headless architecture work?
A headless architecture consists of two main components: the headless CMS and the frontend framework. The headless CMS serves as the content repository, allowing content creators to manage and organise content separately from its presentation. The frontend framework, on the other hand, is responsible for retrieving the content from the CMS through APIs and rendering it in the desired format.
There are various headless CMS platforms available in the market, each with its own unique features and strengths. Here are our top 5 picks:
- Contentful is a popular choice among developers and content creators alike through its powerful API-first approach and user-friendly interface
- Sanity.io provides real-time collaboration and a customisable content modelling system, allowing for flexible content structures.
- Strapi is an open-source headless CMS that offers a self-hosted solution and a highly customisable content management experience.
- Kontent.ai offers a cloud-based headless CMS with advanced content modelling capabilities and multilingual support.
- Storyblok provides a visual editor and a versatile content delivery API, making it easy to create dynamic websites and composable commerce experiences.
To build a secure, scalable, and high-performing website, it’s essential to choose the right frontend framework to couple with your headless CMS. Here are our top 5 headless frontend frameworks:
- Next.js is a React.js-based framework for server-side rendering and static site generation, providing excellent performance and SEO benefits.
- Gatsby is another React.js-based static site generator that offers fast builds, efficient caching, and a wealth of plugins to enhance your development workflow.
- Angular is a comprehensive framework that provides a complete solution for building large-scale web applications, offering robust features and tooling.
The relationship between the headless CMS and the frontend framework is crucial in developing a secure, scalable, and high-performing website. The CMS serves as the content repository, allowing content creators to manage and organise content, while the frontend framework retrieves the content and renders it in a format suitable for different platforms and devices. This separation of concerns enables efficient development, maintenance, and enhancement of your website.
Why are there so few developers who use headless CMS?
While the adoption of headless CMS is growing steadily, it’s true that there are relatively fewer developers who currently use this method. The reasons are multifold, but ultimately, it all comes down to expertise.
Building and maintaining a headless CMS environment requires more specialised infrastructure and technical setup. Because of this additional complexity, you need to ensure your development team has the appropriate experience with headless web development.
Dusted is a specialist digital performance and brand activation agency working with B2B companies across finance, tech, and professional services. So far, we have helped our clients at HTB Bank, PIDG, and Prima successfully navigate the digital landscape by developing safe, scalable, and fast headless websites.
- HTB is a specialist business and personal finance bank. As a growing business, they required a website that could keep up with their accelerated expansion. To address their challenge, we opted for Gatsby, which ensures consistent customer experiences at scale through a unified data layer, client-side routing, and constant performance optimisations.
- PIDG is an infrastructure finance company that strives to accelerate climate action and sustainable development. With a diverse portfolio of projects across different regions and sectors, they needed to ensure scalability and consistent customer experiences. With its server-side rendering (SSR), automatic code splitting, and support for static site generation (SSG), Next.js proved the optimal solution for our clients.
- Prima is a fintech company striving to revolutionise the insurance value chain. As their digital presence expanded, Prima needed to optimise their website’s performance to meet the increasing demands of their user base. So, we built a performant front end using Next.js, taking advantage of its SSR, code splitting, and static site generation capabilities to optimise load times and handle traffic efficiently. Next, to organise content at scale, we leveraged Sanity’s structured content models, real-time collaboration, and versioning features.
If you work with us, we’ll guide you through the various options so that you can select the right solution based on your specific organisational needs. Ultimately, we’ll deliver a high-end digital product catered specifically to meet your sector’s nuances.
So, if you want a website that is secure, scalable and fast, don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss the headless approach.