In the previous article, we described what the headless architecture is, giving an overview of this technology. In this part, we will discuss in details the benefits of the headless architecture over the traditional one by making a more technical comparison between them, to further explore how they differ. Most importantly, we will provide a method to determine if the headless architecture is suitable for your business. So let’s just get into it, and mandatory disclaimer: get ready for some tech jargon.
Traditional Vs. Headless Architecture - What Are the Differences?
Although the traditional and headless architectures provide the same experience to the content creators and managers, the way the content is delivered to the users is totally different. With the traditional approach, the back-end displays the content according to the front-end template that is built into the Content Management System (CMS). The front-end is tightly coupled to the back-end, meaning that in order to revamp your site, you generally need to change the entire structure.
Traditional: The front-end “head” is tied to the back-end
Instead, the headless architecture takes a completely different approach. With just one back-end, multiple front-end delivery systems can be developed to publish the content on various channels such as desktop, mobile, and IoT devices. Let’s imagine, for example, that you have a website, and you now want to show the same content on an app. Thanks to the headless approach, you can do this simply by connecting the app to the same back-end via an API, without affecting the original website: you simply focus on the app.
Headless: A single back-end for multiple front-end “heads”. Modifying or deploying a new head will not affect the other ones.
So how do they differ from a technical standpoint? The table below will give you a better understanding.
|Approach||Monolithic (front-end and back-end are tightly bound)||Decoupled (front-end and back-end are separated and communicate through API)|
|Setup||The front-end must be built on top of the CMS and follow the rules defined by the back-end. Usually, there will be a template engine that needs to be used and it might not give much flexibility to the front-end developers.||The front-end will act as a separate application and doesn’t necessarily need to follow any rules defined by the back-end. However, to communicate, they will have to follow the API documentation.|
|Hosting||Front-end and back-end will be on the same server.||Front-end and back-end applications can be deployed on independent servers.|
|Code Complexity||The content, front-end code, and CMS code coexist, which makes it difficult to add new sections to the front-end without impacting the existing ones.||The content exists separately and can be accessed using simple API calls. Therefore a new front-end “head” can be added without impacting the existing front-end.|
What Are the Benefits of the Headless Architecture?
The headless architecture brings multiple benefits to the table, with the most important ones listed below:
- Serving Multiple Channels/Platforms – Headless architecture helps you distribute your content across various platforms from a single back-end. Less time is spent delivering the same content.
- Flexibility – A lot of developers find the traditional architecture quite restrictive, but this is not the case with the headless one. Headless is more flexible, giving you the freedom to use a front-end framework that makes sense. More freedom of choice.
- Breakthrough User Experiences – The headless architecture allows breakthrough user experiences as the developers are free to innovate. They can future-proof their builds by revamping the design without re-implementing the entire content management system, leveraging existing content already present on the platform. Finding what really works for you to reach your ROI will be more streamlined.
- Scalability – As headless architecture keeps the back-end and front-end separated, you can easily and anytime upgrade and customize your digital assets without compromising the performance. Your assets can grow as you grow.
Some of the advantages of the Headless Approach
Do You Need Headless Architecture?
The benefits brought by the headless architecture are multiple, but is this architecture the right solution for you? There is an easy way to find out. If you answer "yes" to most of the questions below, then a headless architecture is indispensable for your digital assets.
- Will you have multiple touch points with your users?
- Are you planning to use a modern tech stack for managing and delivering your digital assets?
- Do you want to have centralized control over content publishing across channels?
- Do you want to ensure the highest performance for your digital assets?
- Do you want to give your developers more freedom to implement the front-end
Technology has evolved to meet the growing expectations of customers, and the headless architecture streamlines the complex tasks of multichannel publishing. It is becoming the standard of multichannel content publishing thanks to proven benefits over the traditional architecture such as lower costs (usually this can be more expensive on a first independent build), quicker integrations, more personalization, flexibility, and scalability.
If you are still not sure which option to choose from and what the future looks like for your business or your project, we will make it simple for you. Go headless and don’t think too much.
To get a deeper understanding of how we apply headless architecture at ITC with the most performant front-end technology - React, stay tuned for the next article of this series!
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