Headless CMS is taking over how we publish and manage digital content — whether we like it or not. The whole point of this article is to lay out why it is worth migrating away from WordPress and other legacy systems and instead use Headless CMS for your websites.
WordPress and Headless CMS websites differ in how the website is provisioned and deployed. Simply put WordPress is built when the visitors arrive at the website. Headless CMS websites are prebuilt at the time the website is published. For the technical details on this feel free to read our article A Close Look at Headless CMS Vs WordPress.
In other words, what we are talking about when we suggest dropping WordPress and, instead, migrating your website to the Headless CMS is a discussion on these two competing methods for building a website.
There is a long-standing analogy that was used to describe on-premise servers and cloud-based servers that gained traction around 2011–2012. Believe it or not, at the time, most of what we experience today via the cloud was happening in a closet in our office or home.
This was becoming a problem for a myriad of reasons and an analogy about Pets Vs Cattle helped pave the way to the modern cloud we all rely on today. If you’re interested in the history of cloud computing and this analogy read up on the story HERE it is interesting.
For our discussion on WordPress vs Headless CMS, this same analogy is very useful. In this analogy we have Pets and we have Cattle. WordPress being a pet and Headless CMS being Cattle.
With this analogy Pets refer to server-based systems:
Servers or server pairs that are treated as indispensable or unique systems that can never be down. Typically they are manually built, managed, and “hand fed”. Examples include mainframes, solitary servers, HA load balancers/firewalls (active/active or active/passive), database systems designed as master/slave (active/passive), and so on.
Pets are unique and fragile; they require a lot of personal attention. If a pet gets sick or dies they are very hard to quickly and easily replace and as they age they become increasingly hard to teach new tricks and maintaining their youthful energy is not an option.
To be more precise WordPress requires a server — always. Keeping that server up to date, fast, healthy and youthful is a labor-intensive process that many service providers avoid. Layer in the bloated themes, plugins, and core updates to the app, and WordPress becomes a liability.
Old WordPress websites need to be completely rebuilt due to obsolescence. New WordPress sites get hacked, lost, or stolen. Making any WordPress website fast and scalable is a never-ending manual process. WordPress is a Pet.
Arrays of many multiples of servers, that are built using automated tools, and are designed for failure, where any number of servers are irreplaceable. The global edge networks and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are perfect examples of “serverless” systems. Source
Cattle are robust and decentralized. They require very low personalized attention. If a cow gets sick or dies who cares! Another is in its place immediately. This means speed and new tricks and youthful vitality are baked into the herd — it’s a status quo of sorts.
Headless CMS is serverless by design meaning websites built under Headless CMS methods are much more stable and secure. Scaling up a Headless CMS website is much easier and the page speed out of the box is immensely better than WordPress.
As we mentioned above WordPress is built on a server and as such, all the functionality that WordPress websites rely on must also run through that server. This is about more than page performance and security and stability with traffic load — it is about the operations of the website.
WordPress websites require plugins and a central database all running on top of the server. In other words, a WordPress website looks a lot like a Jenga tower. With complex interconnected systems that are all self-reliant. This makes them very susceptible to all kinds of drama. If a plugin fails or the theme updates improperly the entire website is at stake. This is also why WordPress can become a security nightmare. If you compromise one section of the Jenga tower the whole thing can collapse.
Headless CMS on the other hand is a decentralized toolchain. There is a lot more choice available to how the website is structured meaning functionality is much more stable and modular. If something breaks it only affects that singular section of the website. It is very easy to change the tools and methods used to build and deploy the website. The fact that there isn’t a single interconnected server also makes Headless CMS websites way more secure.
Now that we understand the opposing methods of WordPress and Headless CMS and the basic concept of servers vs serverless architecture we can discuss the technical and non-technical benefits that Headless CMS has over WordPress. We’ll begin with the technical. We generally break these technical advantages down into the 4Ss.
Because Headless CMS websites are prebuilt and deployed to a global edge network it is way easier for them to be ludicrously fast out of the box. They also have a simpler architecture at deployment so maintaining and improving that page speed is much easier too.
Meanwhile, WordPress requires a lot of extra work to make fast. From fine-tuning the database to caching, caching, and more caching. If you make a major change to a WordPress site all your previous speed work has to be redone — clearly making WordPress fast is a laborious task.
By putting the entire website on a CDN and removing the operating system and database from the core functionality of the website there is nothing to hack in general. Can you hack a JPG?? Furthermore, where is the benefit? Malware and SQL injection are rendered useless and attacks like DDOS are much harder to make effective because Headless CMS websites don’t require dynamic server-side functions to operate.
When and where a database or operating system is required that functionality is pulled in via an API and microservice which reduces the overall security footprint immensely. Meanwhile, WordPress is the most hacked CMS on the market- source
The Headless CMS methods use the CDN and Static Site Generator means the website is a static asset to be retrieved from a global edge network. The Headless CMS doesn’t have a lot of moving parts and when it does they are built via APIs and microservices. This means they can handle much higher traffic loads and keep an excellent user experience at those higher traffic loads.
Consider Headless CMS to be more like a solid-state hard drive whereas WordPress is like the old-school disk drives from yesteryear. Headless CMS websites require less maintenance and host for a lower cost than their WordPress counterparts.
The last technical benefit is how much more scalable the Headless CMS is. Because the website is prebuilt and available as a static asset on a global edge network it is much more cost-effective to place high traffic loads on the website.
No need to build multiple servers with complex caching layers and load balancing software. Headless CMS is ready for traffic and will ensure that traffic has a great experience every time. This is much harder to achieve with a server-based system like WordPress and the costs to make WordPress scale are much larger than with the Headless CMS.
On their own, each of the 4 Ss offers a good argument for why you should migrate away from WordPress and choose the Headless CMS. Combined the advantages of Headless CMS become even more clear.
Migrating to the Headless CMS offers better performance for your visitors and fast page load speeds have a real advantage to your marketing and sales initiatives. Operationally a secure, stable, and scalable tech stack means you have a better handle on the overhead costs of your website and fewer surprises to manage. Better yet, as you grow your websites those costs don’t scale with you. This makes Headless CMS a more profitable option too.
Fundamentally by making the choice to use a more purpose-built approach to your website and avoiding the trappings of all-in-one systems you can then refocus your efforts on making your website much better in the non-technical aspects of the website.
In this article, you have come across a lot of reasons why Headless CMS is a better, more promising, and more reliable option for your website. Headless CMS isn’t a bloated, over-engineered system but a modular and bespoke set of options.
Because Headless CMS is a developer-led initiative, you can assure that it has stood the test of many experts and is highly recommended by them. Developers are technical people and are often tasked with the engineering side of the website. They love the Headless CMS.
It is not unusual to find many digital marketers who are either dubious, oblivious, or cynical of this new way of publishing content i.e. marketing and sales campaigns to websites. Unfamiliar with the technical workings of a website, they have a very different set of values when it comes to how a website should be deployed.
We, at WebriQ, firmly believe that Headless CMS is superior to other CMS builders, not only for the technical advantages it provides but also for its great potential for sales and marketing. The rest of this article is geared towards exploring the major upside to Headless CMS when it comes to the stuff marketers value. We’ll make the case for why dropping WordPress and migrating to the Headless CMS makes so much sense for the marketing side of the website.
First and foremost your website is for your users — full stop. They are the only set of eyeballs and opinions that matter when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your website. Performance metrics like page speed are very important for how a user will measure a website.
46% of people say waiting for pages to load is what they dislike most about browsing the web on mobile.
A 100-millisecond delay in load time can cause conversion rates to drop by 7%.
Most marketers will agree that page speed is very important to the success of their campaigns. The above statistics (source) and others are all too familiar. But the argument for why Headless CMS is better for marketing is deeper than just raw page speed. Because Headless CMS is purpose-built and decentralized not only are page loads faster they are also more stable. Meaning all traffic has a better experience on the website.
What we mean is, that systems like WordPress will have a much wider range of page loads. Sure some visitors will have fast load times but quite a number will have poor load times. The range in page loads is much tighter on the Headless CMS and means you have not only faster page loads period but also faster page loads for users on slower devices and networks. This is a concept called — device agnostic.
Headless CMS websites offer better user experiences no matter what device you are using. This is a big deal as users are using more and more devices to access the internet and engage with content and marketing experiences. Factor in the growing trend of IoT and Headless CMS makes your user experience much more extendable. If you’re familiar with the buzzword omnichannel — this is what that phrase is talking about.
Finally, because the front end and back end of Headless CMS websites are decoupled it is much easier to change and update the designed user experience on Headless CMS websites. Running major UI/UX overhauls on a WordPress or other server-based system is time-consuming and cumbersome so it is often avoided. Not so with Headless CMS websites.
If you factor in the power of microservices over plugins not only can you improve the design of the website but you can also improve the functionality of the website faster. When all your eggs are in one basket on monolithic platforms flexibility isn’t an option.
Better still, with the Headless CMS, your marketing team can continue to publish and launch campaigns while in the middle of these updates — both major and minor. Simply put the Headless CMS is much more flexible to operate and therefore it is much easier to run user experience improvements and updates. This means that over time you’ll achieve better conversion rates faster on the Headless CMS!
If we expand on the benefits outlined above we can also talk about how custom Headless CMS websites are. This is where a lot of marketers get nervous. Where are the handrails and preset and preordained structures? All these customized options can make Headless CMS websites feel overwhelming. It shouldn’t.
The truth is by leaving monolithic systems we have an actual choice! There are no limits to how we deliver our content, design our user experiences and handle the customer journey. In the beginning, this does mean we have to think through things we would normally never consider but this also gives us a lot more agency over not just what the website looks like but how it is delivered.
One of the first choices the marketing team gets to make is how they’ll manage their content. Again this is something most marketing teams are unfamiliar with. Do you mean we can choose? A lot of folks view headless CMS and see it as a problem — instead they should see it as a benefit.
Opening up your marketing organization to this new thought process offers a really powerful transformation to occur within your content marketing strategy. With legacy systems like WordPress, managing content is cumbersome and constrained by the walls of the preordained plugins and themes. Historically marketing teams would break out of those barriers with a custom CMS built specifically for their organization. This was great, but also expensive.
Headless CMS offers a middle way. By using a decoupled CMS the marketing organization can have a content management system purpose-built around the content strategy, content types, and organizational strengths without having to carry the expense of a custom CMS. For a deeper look at the benefits of headless CMS read more in our article Why Content Marketers Should Consider A Headless CMS.
In the same way that your marketing team benefits from headless CMS if the website requires eCommerce functionality, Headless CMS has strong benefits here too.
We’ve covered this topic, in detail, with our article The Business Case For Headless Commerce. Again a lot of marketers will naturally shy away from new systems like the Headless CMS but they’ll also rail against the constraints that platformed systems have built into them. The same flexibility and customization that comes with headless CMS are also achieved with headless commerce.
The last major benefit we’ll discuss is SEO. Again, many of the technical benefits discussed above with the 4 Ss directly affect the SEO side of the website. Google awards faster websites and now with mobile-first indexing page speed is even more important. But the Headless CMS offers more SEO performance than just page speed.
One of the easiest benefits of SEO is just how easy it becomes to publish and manage content. Headless CMS offers a simplified and customized content experience to your organization and it makes it easier to invest in content creation and content updates. Not only can you add content easier you can also republish and improve your older content faster too.
Additionally, with headless CMS you have a lot more control over the URL structure and how your content is structured for indexing.
In addition to making your content management easier, headless CMS also has the benefit of structured data. This can feel like a tedious topic and most of the details will be available in an article we’ll be publishing soon, but structured data can matter to the success of your SEO.
The power of headless CMS is that, by the very nature of API publishing, your content is structured data. This means out of the box using a headless CMS gets you to SEO success faster.
Structured data gives you the advantage of search results enhancements and content-specific features that can help you achieve high SERP results and better click-thru rates. Structured data can also help you future-proof your SEO strategy and will make your content better prepared for new Google updates.
Going through all the cases presented in this article, it is pretty clear that Headless CMS has the edge over both the technical and the marketing and sales sides of the website, compared to monolithic or legacy systems such as WordPress.
As expected of our time and the overall trend of consumer behavior, there will be more businesses establishing their presence online and building a website. As a result, there will also be more marketing and sales teams to invest in their online user experiences and customer journeys. Using older systems that are inflexible and slow is becoming harder and harder to defend.
Now, the big question remains: are you willing to have the edge over these business competitors? Marketers, developers, and teams who are willing to adopt the innovative methodologies of the Headless CMS stand to increase their conversion rates, delight their customers, beat their competition, and ultimately grow their revenues.
WebriQ has a full product offering for building Microsites and Landing Pages on a Headless Infrastructure. It is a low-cost and low-risk entry to a Headless strategy for your enterprise or organization.