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The benefits of an enterprise CMS

The Contentstack TeamJun 30, 2022

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If you're a marketer, you know how important it is to have an enterprise content management system that can handle all of your content needs.

But what makes it an enterprise CMS (eCMS) instead of just a CMS? The main difference is that an eCMS can manage multiple websites and large volumes of web content, through a single interface and a single sign-on.

Enterprise CMSes provide organizations with a tool to capture, organize, store and deliver an ever-increasing volume of digital information — documents, images, emails, rich media and other types of valuable business content.

An effective eCMS should allow you to manage your website's content easily and efficiently, without having to go through a web developer every time you want to make a change. Training people to use the eCMS effectively is vital for the success of your website, and when done properly it will save time and money in the long term.

Should you invest in an enterprise CMS? With so many different CMS options available, how do you know which one is right for your business? Here are the top 10 benefits of using an eCMS for your company website.

1. Increases efficiency. An enterprise CMS can automate many tasks related to managing and distributing content, which leads to faster turnaround times and fewer errors. The more critical information there is in the business, the more time it takes to keep it organized and accessible. An enterprise CMS efficiently organizes content, making it easy to locate and access, which in turn means you can save time, increase productivity and focus on more important tasks.

2. Keeps track of all your information. Enterprises keep track of a large amount of information. There needs to be a way to store and file this information that prevents lost man-hours, shuffling through paperwork or searching for missing or misplaced items. An enterprise CMS offers efficient, accessible and secure document management, giving all stakeholders a smoother experience. Here are some examples:

  • A marketer working on a new campaign can find and take lessons from previous campaigns.
  • A software designer can access customer problem reports before working on solutions.
  • Purchasing agents can access previous purchase orders.
  • Customer support staff can view customer records quickly to offer better customer service.

3. Reduces costs. Investing in an enterprise-class CMS can help you save money long term by streamlining content management processes and eliminating the need for multiple third-party software applications. With the vast amount of digital content created and maintained, it is important to keep track of storage costs and know your cold from your hot data. An eCMS gives fast access to this data, allowing you to save money by storing cold data at a lower cost.

An eCMS can also save time for your team by reducing man-hours spent on projects. As fewer people are required to manage the system once it is set up and running smoothly, your teams are free to focus on more productive tasks.

Having an efficient eCMS can also create the environment for a paperless office — saving money on physical storage and reducing your organization’s environmental impact.

4. Allows document version control. With an eCMS your organization can experience seamless teamwork and you’ll have more control over important documents. Your team can track notes and comments simultaneously while collaborating on documents. You will be able to access previous, time-stamped versions and revert back to them if necessary.

5. Improves collaboration. An eCMS gives teams the platform they need to be more productive, with tools that allow them easily organize and track projects and collaborate efficiently from any location.

6. Offers greater security. An eCMS can help protect your company's confidential data by implementing strict access controls and tracking user activity, as well as providing reporting and auditing capabilities. Strict access control will ensure that only authorized individuals can create, edit or delete sensitive assets, and tracking user behavior gives an additional level of security by reinforcing accountability.

7. Improves regulatory compliance. Compliance regulations are constantly evolving and the penalties for failure to comply can be huge. An enterprise CMS gives the tools and framework to instill data management policies that control the creation, retention and destruction of sensitive information.

8. Improves customer service. Getting real-time visibility into the status of customer enquiries, requests and transactions allows you to respond quickly to their needs. Online forms and requests speed up interactions, and with trackability comes useful insights for improving the customer experience.

9. Helps with sustainability. In the current climate all organizations need to consider the effect of their impact on the environment. Cutting paper usage, reducing the carbon footprint of storage facilities, printed goods and transportation all help toward a greener future.

10. Allows automation. One of the great advances of modern technology is automation, which gives organizations the ability to save time and resources by removing repetitive manual processes. This can be anything from simple document routing and document approvals to workflows and email customer journeys.

What Can an Enterprise CMS Do?

Capture: Capture content as it enters the system

Manage: File and categorize the content

Store: Keep active, hot data and content readily available

Preserve: Archive cold data

Deliver: Present the right content to the right user at the right time

What Should You Look For in an Enterprise CMS?

The question remains: How do you choose an enterprise content management system? How does what you currently have in place compare to what’s new on the market? And if you choose to invest in something new, how can you be sure it will be worth it?

2-minute guide on how to choose an Enterprise CMS

A cloud-Based SaaS solution: Content Management is constantly evolving and you shouldn’t have to replatform every few years just to keep up. Enterprise CMSes needs to stay cutting edge right into the future and with a cloud-based SaaS solution your enterprise CMS will frequently and automatically be improved and updated without disrupting your workflow - so no more expensive upgrades.

Customer support that actually cares: You shouldn’t have to fight for your provider’s attention — you need to find a CMS that has qualified people available to answer your questions quickly.

Sky’s the limit scalability: With so many customers relying on your CMS, you need a platform you can rely on to run smoothly as your business grows.

Why Choose an Agile, Headless CMS for Your Business?

Assuming your business has multiple websites and a high volume of content that needs constant updating, monitoring, editing and refreshing, you should be looking at the most flexible and future-proofed eCMS. Opting for an agile headless CMS you get the benefits listed above, plus more:

  • Integrations
    with extensions and apps via API: The beauty of headless is the
    flexibility to integrate with third party platforms and tools.
  • Omnichannel for all: Have one central content hub with a unified user experience across the marketing stack.
  • MACH: (Microservices,
    API-first, Cloud-native Saas and Headless) is a set of principles
    behind futureproof best-of-breed software. Agile, nimble, always
    up-to-date technology that you can add, replace and combine for your
    evolving business and customer experience.

Speak to us at Contentstack about how using an agile headless CMS can help your organization. Book a demo today.

More About Enterprise Content Management Systems

To learn more about enterprise content management systems, see these articles:

About Contentstack

The Contentstack team comprises highly skilled professionals specializing in product marketing, customer acquisition and retention, and digital marketing strategy. With extensive experience holding senior positions in notable technology companies across various sectors, they bring diverse backgrounds and deep industry knowledge to deliver impactful solutions.  

Contentstack stands out in the headless composable DXP market with an impressive track record of 87 G2 user awards, six analyst recognitions, and three industry accolades, showcasing its robust market presence and user satisfaction.

Check out our case studies to see why industry-leading companies trust Contentstack.

Experience the power of Contentstack's award-winning platform by scheduling a demo, starting a free trial, or joining a small group demo today.

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Headless CMS uncovered: Drive digital experiences across all channels

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Better user experience The front end works independently from its back end. That reduces the server load and increases website speed. With that, you can deliver content at pace. A headless CMS also has a responsive design that adapts your content to any screen size or device. SEO Some headless CMSes also offer SEO capabilities that allow you to optimize your content and increase your online visibility. Brand consistency A headless CMS allows you to reuse and share content across many platforms without creating from scratch. That ensures you maintain consistent messaging irrespective of their device. These advantages allow content editors and creators to deliver content across multiple channels. A headless CMS also offers smooth omnichannel content delivery. You can use the API-driven approach to create a process workflow as a content editor. And anytime you introduce new content, an API delivers it to your chosen channels or platforms. 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However, a headless CMS is more flexible and makes it easier to integrate third-party services. Architecture The backend of a traditional CMS houses a database that manages content and combines it with the front end to display the content on your website. A headless CMS does not work with a front end. The backend handles content management, and an API connects it to any application frontend for content transmission to any device. Content delivery While traditional CMS adopts a one-to-one system to deliver content to a website, a headless CMS takes a one-to-many approach, delivering content to many connected devices. Omnichannel flexibility It lets you decide where and how to deliver your content. It allows for omnichannel delivery anywhere, like websites, smartwatches, mobile devices, AR/VR, etc. A conventional CMS restricts content delivery to the channels it supports. Deciding if a headless CMS is suitable for your organization Is a headless CMS the right choice for your business? If your marketing team currently manages several content management systems, you may consider it. Also, if omnichannel publishing is critical to your marketing efforts, a headless content management system will save you time. Also, consider ease of use. One problem with traditional CMS is that only developers or technically astute persons can operate them. So, consider a headless CMS to avoid that bottleneck and grant your content team autonomy.  Finally, a flexible headless CMS is the way to go if you want to prioritize real-time content, interactive digital experiences, and intelligent e-commerce. The technical side: How headless CMS works The headless CMS operates through API-driven content management. It is a front-end agnostic system, which means it does not have a defined presentation layer. This approach enables flawless integration with front-end frameworks and static site generators. Content creators use the WYSIWYG editor to create and distribute it through an API call. With a headless CMS, you can deliver omnichannel content at pace. It allows you to organize content. Then, your developer writes the code in the front-end development framework. You can then use your static site generators to combine the content and code and deliver it to your static site via your content delivery network. A practical guide to using headless CMS Setting up a headless CMS is straightforward, even if it involves several steps. After you have chosen a suitable headless platform, here are the steps to get it up and running. 1. Start by creating an account. Then, follow the instructions to set up your content repository. 2. Follow the guidelines to integrate with front-end frameworks and static site generators. 3. Invite team members and assign roles for content creation and editing. 4. Use the WYSIWYG editor to create, edit, and publish content through the API layer. 5. Track your performance to ensure it aligns with your business goals. Headless CMS for omnichannel strategy Because of its API-driven architecture, a headless CMS enables businesses to develop multi-channel content delivery. It allows organizations to integrate other technologies, speed up campaigns, and serve multiple digital channels. A headless CMS also enables businesses to create personalized digital customer experiences. As creators and editors can store and reuse content, it allows them to maintain consistency across publishing platforms. As the business grows, it also helps them scale their operations and adapt to new technologies. Case studies: Success with headless CMS Several businesses continue to enjoy the benefits of a headless content management system. These success stories highlight how these organizations improved digital experiences and increased customer engagement after adopting Contentstack's digital experience platform. Burberry Burberry is a British luxury fashion house. They struggled with extensive translation requirements and multiple collections. They also needed to deliver high-performing experiences to their customers.  It was apparent their monolithic CMS could not handle these challenges. They switched to a headless CMS with Contentstack, and here are the results: They reduced developer tickets from 40 a week to one and Increased publishing speed by 80%, enhancing landing page style and design flexibility. “Contentstack helps our engineers to move fast and concentrate on business requirements by reducing proprietary platform inconveniences,” said Sonia Latoracca, digital commerce content manager at Burberry. “Adding new consumers has never been such an easy and pleasant journey for everyone.” Read their success story to learn how Burberry chose headless CMS to enable speed and agility. Dawn Foods Dawn Foods is an American company specializing in wholesale manufacturing and distributing baked goods, beads, and mixes.  Before 2019, they handled orders manually. As the business grew, it needed a scalable online platform and improved user experience. They also required a developer-friendly content management system. They based their decision to choose Contentstack on three things: Digital infrastructure Ease of use MACH (microservices, API-first, cloud-native, and headless). Since choosing Contentstack as their digital experience platform, they can boast of the following improvements: Elevate marketing team capabilities to manage personalized omnichannel experiences for customers. Publish six significant releases in six months. Improve e-commerce platform speed to be 80% faster than those using monolith platforms. Boost agility to edit content and publish in minutes. Gireesh Sahukar, the Vice President of Digital, stated, “We know that we have made a really good decision choosing Contentstack. We’re extremely happy with our partnership. The kind of flexibility that Contentstack offers, not just to us, but also to the ecosystem partners we want to work with, is pretty fantastic.” Read more about how Contentstack helped Dawn Foods find the recipe for online success. Choosing your headless CMS platform Choosing the right content management platform can take time and effort. However, it is critical to understand your business needs and objectives. Research each platform to know how they fit into your long-term strategy. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. One critical factor to consider is scalability. As your business grows, your content management needs will change. You want a content management system to adjust without compromising performance and user experience. It would help if you also considered flexibility. A headless CMS can work with any front-end application. It offers you the freedom to customize the user interface as you wish. Finally, you also want to consider ease of use for non-technical users like creators and editors. A good headless CMS should be intuitive and user-friendly. That way, content creators can navigate the platform's WYSIWYG editor for content creation without advanced technical knowledge. Future trends: The evolution of content management systems As AI adoption increases, we will likely see more innovation in content management systems.  Headless CMS platforms will be instrumental in helping businesses keep up with these changes. Its smooth integration, flexibility, and optimized multi-channel content delivery will shape how organizations interact with customers. FAQ section What is a headless CMS, and how does it differ from traditional CMS? By design, it separates the backend from the presentation layer. Unlike traditional CMS, it can publish content to any platform or device via APIs. While conventional CMS works with a front and back end, headless only focuses on managing your content in a central repository. It also supports omnichannel content delivery, while traditional CMS does not. What are the primary benefits of using a headless CMS? It is easy to set up and use, even for non-technical persons. Developers can also customize them as they wish. When businesses grow and face new customer demands, it can adjust without compromising performance and user experience. Finally, the front-end agnostic design adds a layer of security to protect users against malicious cyberattacks. Can a headless CMS integrate with my existing website or mobile app? Yes. A headless content management system can integrate with any static site generator or front-end framework. You can use your existing mobile app or website to connect to it through APIs. How does a headless CMS improve content delivery to multiple platforms? It improves content delivery through WYSIWYG editors and real-time previews, enabling content creators to tailor their content for each platform. It also supports content reuse, meaning you only need to create new content sometimes. That helps businesses to maintain consistency. The API-centric approach of a headless content management system also allows it to deliver content to many platforms at pace. What does API-driven content management mean for non-technical users? An application program interface (API) protocol enables communication between two or more computer programs. An API-driven content management is a backend framework for managing your CMS needs. It relies on the API protocol to interact with third-party services and systems. A headless content management system is API-driven, so it can access your data in the backend and publish it on multiple digital channels. Learn more Headless CMS is changing how businesses organize and manage content. The front-end agnostic architecture allows for content delivery at pace. It also supports omni channels that let organizations reach customers on multiple platforms.  As technology and customers' needs change, businesses will rely on flexible and scalable content management systems. Headless CMS solutions offer an agile, flexible, and scalable approach to content management that will serve the needs of businesses going forward. Empower your content creators, enhance security, improve scalability, deliver better user experiences, optimize for SEO, and maintain brand consistency. Embrace the power of a headless CMS and stay ahead in the digital game. Take your digital experiences to the next level - schedule a demo today!

Nov 27, 2023 | 7 min. read

Introduction to headless CMS: Futureproof your content management

Highlights Here's a preview how a headless CMS can futureproof your content management: Enhances digital experiences and enables multi-channel content delivery Streamlines content management across devices and platforms Enables personalized digital experiences across channels and ensures scalability Architecture decouples the content management backend from the front end, providing greater flexibility Separation of the content repository and presentation layer improves performance, scalability, and future-proofing Front-end developers can use their preferred technologies and frameworks, delivering consistent user experiences Any front-end application can work with a headless CMS through APIs, enabling multi-channel content delivery Keep reading to learn more! As the digital landscape evolves, more businesses see the value of efficient content management. Traditional content management systems (CMS) have held sway for a while. Yet, modern web development requires a more advanced solution with new technology springing up and customer needs changing by the minute. Hence, the emergence of headless CMS is crucial. It is empowering businesses to meet the growing demands of their online presence. An architecture that decouples the content management backend from the front end helps organizations achieve greater flexibility.  The headless CMS architecture also stands out for its scalability and ability to deliver personalized digital experiences across channels. What is a headless CMS? A headless CMS is a back-end-only content management system. It acts as a content repository that makes content accessible via an API for display on any device without a presentation layer. It is front-end agnostic, which eases content access and publishing on any digital device via an API. The evolution of content management As the complexity of digital experiences increased, organizations sought more flexible options. With conventional CMS unable to handle the technology shift, headless systems started becoming prominent. According to Future market insights, the headless CMS market topped $751.6 million in 2022 and will exceed $5.5 billion by 2032. The growth of platforms like websites, mobile apps and IoT devices is also driving the transition to headless CMS. Organizations that opted for a headless CMS architecture have eased content management across these platforms. And that has helped them improve efficiency and deliver better user experience. What makes headless CMS different? What makes the headless CMS unique is its decoupled architecture. In a traditional CMS, the content repository and presentation layer are intertwined. In a headless CMS, these components work independently. That separation enables creators and developers to deliver content at pace. And they also do it with ease across channels. This improves customer experience and ensures that the brand's messaging remains consistent. Organizations can adapt to new technology trends and consumer demands with a headless CMS. The role of the content repository in headless CMS The content repository stores, manages and organizes digital content. That makes it easier for organizations to create, edit and publish content without limitations. Also, headless CMSes come with a WYSIWYG that allows non-technical users to create content. How does a headless CMS manage content A headless CMS uses a content hub for content management. The content hub houses all digital assets. It is also the place where developers and creators manage content. The centralized approach guarantees consistent brand messaging and design across all channels. It also ensures that businesses keep content and maintain quality. The front-end freedom with headless CMS Headless CMS does not prescribe how you present content. Any front end can work with a headless CMS, allowing developers to use their preferred technologies and frameworks. The presentation layer or front end is the user-facing part of an application, website, or device. It includes all the visual elements and interfaces that make it easy for users to interact with digital content.  In the traditional CMS system, they are closely connected. But the headless CMS decouples them. Hence, developers can present content in any format they choose. They can also create and deploy customized and scalable solutions. Benefits of using headless CMS for front-end developers Front-end developers like the front-end agnostic nature of headless CMS platforms. Here are other benefits for developers. It allows them to use preferred technologies, frameworks, and design patterns. It helps them scale future projects or features with ease. They can customize solutions to meet project requirements. It enables them to deliver consistent user experiences across various channels. Can any front-end work with a headless CMS Any front-end application can work with a headless CMS because headless CMSes provide content through APIs. Developers can integrate the APIs with any front-end technology of their choice. That ensures organizations can deliver multi-channel content without investing in extra development resources. Benefits of headless CMS for content editors and creators A headless CMS streamlines content creation. It does so by separating the front-end presentation from the back-end functionality. This allows editors and creators to manage content across different devices and platforms. It also enables them to scale. The WYSIWYG editor integrates with a headless CMS through APIs. That triggers a smooth connection between the presentation layer and the content repository. Its interface makes it easy for non-technical users to create, edit and publish content. Here are more advantages of headless CMS for content production: Separation of concerns: Having a separate content repository and presentation layer improves performance. Scalability: A headless CMS can adapt to changing business needs without compromising performance. Future-proofing: The architecture of a headless CMS can adapt to new technologies. Enhanced digital experiences: The API-driven system enables quality omnichannel delivery. Multi-channel delivery: A headless CMS allows content delivery across channels. Delivering Content Across Multiple Channels Whether your audience is accessing information on a tablet, smartphone, or smartwatch, they can expect to receive engaging and high-quality content. A headless CMS relies on an API to deliver content across channels. That ensures consistency on all platforms. It also enables organizations to tailor their content to the needs of customers. Headless CMS offers and solutions As headless CMS adoption gathers pace, many headless content management platforms exist today. There are many options to choose from. Consider your objectives, requirements, and constraints to select the best for your organization. Review your team. Focus on factors like ease of use, developer-friendliness, integration capabilities, scalability, and flexibility. Evaluating these factors will ensure you make an informed decision. Integrating headless CMS with modern web development Static site generators enable you to create static, HTML-based websites without an external data source. Most static site generators do not have workflow capabilities or a WYSIWYG editor. That means they are unsuitable for creating and managing content.  A headless CMS provides these capabilities. That enables you to integrate front-end frameworks with a compatible static site generator. That ensures you do not need to learn new customization and theme integrations. Case studies: Successful integrations with web and mobile apps Many organizations rely on Contentstack's digital experience platform, and for good reason. Here are some success stories.  Icelandair Icelandair launched Digital Labs in 2015. They tasked the new business development unit with introducing a digital culture. Having adopted VYRE Unify before, they migrated to dotCMS as their web management platform. It soon became apparent that those platforms were no longer viable for them. Icelandair needed a new website that could support its modular approach to content design. Migrating to Contenstack's digital experience platform enabled them to integrate headless CMS with modern web development. Here are the results. The improved delivery rate for translations by 70% Slashed promotions push out time by 90% They aligned creative and technical teams to work in sync. Enhanced content team to manage 12 languages for 16 locations without leaving the CMS Hallur fiór Halldórsson, UX Writer and Content Designer at Icelandair, said this. "I don't have to depend on the developers to do everything. I can go in and make the changes instead of them having to do all the work. Simplicity in the UI for content editors and technically savvy people has helped us." Read how Icelandair improved automation, workflows, and localization with Contentstack with headless CMS integrations. K2 Sports K2 is an American company and a pioneer snowboard and ski brand. They faced challenges with managing eight websites on two CMSes. The solutions relied on developers, which slowed down the speed at which marketers could deliver content. Switching to Contentstack's composable architecture and extensible APIs allowed K2 to build unique integrations. Here are some other results: Improved their content publishing speed by 90%. Boosted productivity by 50% Increased website speed by 75% faster “Since migrating to Contentstack, updating content has gotten 90% faster; furthermore, it has allowed K2 to launch eight websites in less than six months,” said Nicole Fugere, director of Web Services. Read more about how K2 created websites 7% faster with Contentstack's headless CMS. Content as a Service (CaaS) and digital experience platforms Content as a Service (CaaS) is an approach to storing and serving content that builds on the headless CMS concept. It delivers content through APIs, enabling omnichannel distribution across various devices and platforms. Aside from simplifying content management, it also improves the user's digital experience. CaaS decouples content from its presentation. That enables organizations to personalize content to meet the needs of their audience. That drives engagement and satisfaction.  As more digital platforms adopt CaaS, organizations can create immersive experiences for their audience across all channels. Headless CMS: The future of content management The pace of headless CMS adoption means it will be pivotal in shaping content strategies in the future. As technology continues to impact the digital landscape, organizations will focus on content management systems that can integrate across many platforms. That will help them future-proof their content strategy. A headless CMS will enhance how organizations deliver personalized omnichannel experiences. The flexibility of headless CMS architecture allows businesses to adapt to emerging technologies and respond to growing customer expectations.  Opting for a headless CMS platform is not merely a trend. It is a forward-thinking approach that enhances brand agility and empowers them to stay ahead of the curve. FAQs What is the difference between headless CMS and traditional CMS? Traditional content management systems integrate content storage and presentation. In contrast, a headless CMS decouples these components, making it more flexible and customizable. How do content creators benefit from headless CMS? A Headless CMS streamlines content creation. With the help of the WYSIWYG editor, creators can modify and view content changes in an intuitive interface in real-time. What does "API-driven content management" mean for my business? API-driven content management empowers you to deliver content with ease across channels. By leveraging APIs, you can maintain consistent brand messaging. You can also boost engagement, adapt to new customer demands, and enjoy the benefits of content management for your business. How can a headless CMS improve my website's or app's performance? A headless CMS improves your website's load speed. It reduces website workload by separating the content repository from the presentation layer. Also, developers in your team can use whatever tools or frameworks they prefer. The independent content management and delivery systems also allow you to streamline workflows. And that helps in delivering personalized digital experiences to your audience. What should I consider when implementing a headless CMS? Access your needs and business requirements. Also, consider your limitations when making decisions about your project. Consider the skills of your development team and the requirements of your target audience. Evaluating these factors will guarantee that you make an informed decision. Learn more The headless CMS architecture is revolutionizing content management for organizations. Businesses now recognize the importance of efficient content management. Traditional CMS systems no longer meet the demands of modern web development. The emergence of headless CMS offers a more advanced solution by decoupling the backend from the front end, providing greater flexibility and scalability. Front-end developers benefit from the freedom to use their preferred technologies and frameworks with headless CMS, enabling customized and scalable solutions. Content editors and creators also experience advantages with headless CMS as it streamlines content creation and management across different devices and platforms. Take the next step towards delivering exceptional digital experiences across multiple channels. Unlock the full potential of headless CMS and revolutionize your content management strategy. Schedule a demo today, or contact us for further information.

Nov 02, 2023

History of content management systems and rise of headless CMS

Three primary applications of content management systems To understand how content management systems (CMS) evolved and why there are different types, let's look at how content has evolved on the web. To learn more, download The Ultimate Guide to CMS now. Content management systems, or CMSes, have become a vital part of digital content creation and management. Whether you are building and managing a website, running an online store, or creating and managing digital content, CMSes provide the tools and features necessary for organizations of all sizes to achieve their goals efficiently and effectively. Let’s look at how CMSes are used in three main areas. Building and managing websites Building and managing a website is a crucial aspect of any business's digital presence. Popular CMS platforms like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla offer user-friendly interfaces that make it easy to create and manage content.  With drag-and-drop features, even users without advanced technical skills can design professional-looking websites. Additionally, CMS platforms are often optimized for search engines, boosting website visibility and ranking. A CMS not only simplifies the process of building and managing a website, but it also enhances the design of web pages. Using a CMS, users can create interactive and responsive webpages that adapt to different devices like mobile apps.  The modern CMS user interface enables effortless integration of multimedia elements into webpages, enriching the user experience and making sites more engaging. E-commerce and online stores In e-commerce, CMS plays a significant role in establishing and managing online stores. CMS platforms provide the tools for listing products, managing inventory, processing payments, and handling customer service inquiries. Some CMSes are specifically designed for e-commerce, such as Shopify and Magento, while others can be integrated with e-commerce platforms to facilitate seamless transactions. Integrating CMSes with e-commerce platforms enables businesses to manage their online stores more efficiently, from automatically updating inventory and prices to order processing and customer data management. It also ensures the content delivery application (CDA) is synchronized with the content management application (CMA), resulting in a smooth and seamless shopping experience for customers. Content creation and digital asset management Digital asset management is another crucial aspect where CMS proves its worth. A digital asset manager integrated with a CMS can help businesses manage various types of digital content, such as images, videos, blog posts, and other multimedia files. These assets can be easily organized, accessed, and reused, improving efficiency and promoting consistent branding across all platforms. Content creation is also made simpler with tools and features offered by CMSes. The drag-and-drop interface, for example, makes it easy to design web pages and create engaging content. Other features like the user-friendly content management application (CMA) allow for the easy editing and publishing of content. Moreover, some CMSes, such as headless and open-source CMSes, offer greater flexibility and customization options, catering to different content creation needs. Three popular content management systems Let’s look at three popular content management systems widely used today. WordPress WordPress is a popular CMS known for its simplicity and ease of use. It offers an extensive plugin library, which enhances website functionality and boasts a large community for support. However, it has limited scalability for complex websites and can present security vulnerabilities. WordPress best suits small to medium-sized businesses, bloggers, and individuals. Pros Easy to use Extensive plugin library Large community support Cons Limited scalability for complex websites Security vulnerabilities Joomla Joomla is a flexible and customizable CMS platform that excels in managing e-commerce websites. It supports multiple languages but has a steeper learning curve and fewer plugins than WordPress. Joomla is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses and e-commerce websites. Pros Flexible and customizable Suitable for e-commerce websites Multilingual support Cons Steeper learning curve Fewer plugins compared to WordPress Drupal Drupal is a robust open-source CMS ideal for some complex websites. It is highly scalable and provides robust security features. However, it requires technical expertise and has a steeper learning curve. Drupal is best for large enterprises, government organizations, and educational institutions. Pros Highly scalable Robust security features Suitable for complex websites Cons Steeper learning curve Requires technical expertise WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal each serve distinct needs within content management systems. WordPress offers simplicity and a wealth of plugins, making it an excellent choice for small to medium-sized businesses, bloggers, and individuals. Joomla's flexibility and e-commerce capabilities make it a strong contender for small to medium-sized businesses and e-commerce platforms. Meanwhile, Drupal's robustness, scalability, and security features position it as the ideal option for government organizations and educational institutions. It is crucial to consider these aspects when deciding on the most suitable CMS for your specific requirements. Remember, each system has its strengths and weaknesses; the key lies in aligning these with your individual or business needs. Web 1.0 managing static web content Web 1.0 is the term used to refer to the first stage of development on the World Wide Web, characterized by simple static websites. The history of content management systems began in 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee proposed an internet-based hypertext system HTML and wrote the browser and server software in late 1990. HTML came from SGML, the Standard Generalized Markup Language, and was created at IBM by Charles F. Goldfarb, Ed Mosher, and Ray Lorie in the 1970s. The first websites were simple HTML text files. You used an FTP program to copy the files to a directory under a running web server. In 1993, Mosaic browsers began supporting images that could appear along with text, and static brochure-like sites shared company and product information. In the early 1990s, the first step to managing content on a web page came with Server Side Includes (SSI). Server Side Includes lets you keep portions of your site separate from the main content, such as the site menu or a footer. Around the same time, the Common Gateway Interface came on the scene, letting you create interactive forms. As early as 1990, Tim Berners-Lee said the separation of document structure from the document's layout had been a goal of HTML. In 1994, Håkon Wium Lie worked at CERN, and the use of the Web for publishing was growing. However, it wasn't possible to style documents, such as displaying a newspaper-style multi-column layout on a Web page. Lie saw the need for a style sheet language for the Web. Later, Lie was joined by Bert Bos, who was building a customizable browser with style sheets. By 1995, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was up and running, and Lie and Bos worked together at the W3C on the first style sheet recommendations. In August 1996, the first commercial browser to support CSS was Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3. The following browser to support CSS was Netscape Communicator, version 4.0. Netscape's initial implementation to support CSS was more of an attempt to stop Microsoft from claiming to be more standards-compliant than Netscape. Unfortunately, the Netscape browser frequently crashed when the page included Cascading Style Sheets. The battle for controlling standards between Netscape and Microsoft became known as the browser wars. In 1996, ColdFusion added a full-scripting language called CFML. Processing forms with ColdFusion or using the Common Gateway Interface and programming languages like Perl and Python became the norm. From 1995 to 1997, server-side scripting was the rage. During this same time, Personal Home Page (PHP) and Active Server Pages (ASP) came into play with server-side scripting for generating content sent from the server to the Web browser. Like ASP and PHP, JavaServer Pages (JSP) arrived on the scene later in 1999 and was built around the Java programming language and was also fairly popular. In 1997, Microsoft introduced iframes that let you split the HTML browser window into segments, with each frame showing a different document that could be used to display content from other sites and was popular for presenting ads and banners. The iframe tag brought security, navigation, and search engine optimization issues that eventually were addressed. The DOM and dynamic HTML revolution The turning point came in 1997 as dynamic content emerged with the Document Object Model (DOM) introduction. The DOM defines the logical structure of documents that lets you identify and programmatically control parts of a document. The DOM is an application programming interface (API) for HTML and XML documents. For example, the DOM lets you access and manipulate the styles of HTML elements, like the entire body (body) or a division (div) on a page. Dynamic HTML using Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, commonly called Ajax, was a revolutionary breakthrough, letting developers request and receive data to update a Web page without reloading the page. Figure 1. A Timeline of Milestones for Web Content Management Web 2.0 and the role of a CMS Dynamic content delivery brought new ways to present and interact with Web content, emphasizing sites being more social. The term Web 2.0 helped define what is also called the participative or participatory social web. Web 2.0 also refers to the surge in user-generated content and the ease of use to make websites work with other products and systems. As the web moved from static brochure sites to interactive sites with dynamic content, the desire for collaboration and fresh, relevant content grew, and the need to manage content came to the forefront. Websites must be updated daily, with different people wanting to add and edit content. For example, the Marketing Department wants to update promotional material. Human Resources needs to post new jobs, the Public Relations Department needs to post press releases, the Docs Department needs to publish product documentation, the Support Department wants to interact with customers online, and so on. The role of a content management system was to provide the capability for multiple users with different permission levels to manage content for a website or a section of the content. The core components of a CMS There are two core elements of any content management system (CMS): The Content Management Application (CMA) and the Content Delivery Application (CDA). A CMA for website content allows for the administration of users and groups so that they can create, edit, and remove site content. The CMA also includes the front-end user interface that allows a person to add, modify, and remove content from a Web site without requiring knowledge of HTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), or programming languages, thus eliminating the involvement of a developer. The Content Delivery Application (CDA) compiles that information and updates the website. The rise of the monolithic CMS It was apparent that a system was needed that would allow individuals and groups to manage and deliver content to the web. A monolithic CMS is a system that incorporates everything required for managing and publishing content to the Web. This type of CMS is a coupled system, meaning it is an all-in-one content-management solution. We will look more in-depth into the difference between coupled and decoupled systems later in this article. Founded in 1985, FileNet is considered the first system that was a natural content management system. In 1995, FileNet introduced a complete integrated document management suite of programs with document imaging, document management, and workflow. Vignette came on the scene in late 1995 to make web publishing more accessible and personalized and is commonly credited for originating the term “content management system.” A year later, Vignette introduced StoryBuilder. Many enterprise CMSs began to appear around this time, including Interwoven (1995), Documentum (1996), FatWire (1996), FutureTense (1996), Inso (1996), EPiServer (1997). Open-source CMS and frameworks By the early 2000s, content management systems dominated the web. Open-source content management systems and frameworks began to appear. A framework is a programming library of pre-written code, such as the then-popular Zend framework written in PHP. OpenCMS, PHP-Nuke, Mambo, WordPress, Drupal, Plone, and Joomla offered free content management alternatives. WordPress gained popularity as an open-source solution focusing on blog content delivery and letting third-party developers add customizations and extensions. In 2006, Alfresco offered an open-source alternative to enterprise content management. The website-building platform surge Starting in 2003, easy-to-use website-building CMS sites offered premade templates for people who had no coding experience, such as WordPress (2003) and Squarespace (2003), followed later by Weebly (2006), and Wix (2006). While not pure content management systems, these building platforms provided a path to building a small, low-cost website that required no knowledge of HTML, CSS, and coding. Web APIs, XML, and JSON Most of Web 2.0 was making websites work with other products and systems. A Web API is a Programming Interface that allows access to a system, such as a website, through standard HTTP request methods. The data is typically wrapped in a standard format, such as XML or JSON, to make it easy to read and work with. XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language, which is a data format. Like HTML, XML is a descendant of SGML, the Standard Generalized Markup Language. XML allows for transporting data through feeds and API calls because it's a platform-independent format. JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation, a format for storing serialized data with key-value pairs and transmitting that data between a server and a web application. JSON feeds can be loaded asynchronously faster than XML and RSS feeds. Some sites, such as Twitter, provide RSS feeds, which are easy to use on the server side but frustrating on the client side since you cannot load an RSS feed with AJAX unless you are requesting it from the same domain on which it is hosted. JSON also gained preference over XML since it has a smaller footprint, is easier to use, and works excellently with JavaScript-enabled browsers since JavaScript automatically recognizes JSON. SOAP and REST Developers often use machine-based interactions, such as REST and SOAP, to communicate object information back and forth for social and e-commerce sites. SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer. REST is an architectural style, whereas SOAP is a protocol. An architectural style specifies guidelines that a developer must follow to be considered a RESTful API, including that it supports a client-server model, is stateless, cacheable, has a uniform interface, and is a layered system. A layered approach is one where you can keep data on different systems, so your APIs can be on one server, data on a second server, and use a third server to authenticate requests. Developed in the early 1990s, SOAP did not come into the mainstream until the early 2000s. SOAP is a standardized, extensible, XML-based messaging protocol that is language-, platform-, and transport-independent with built-in error handling. SOAP uses Web Services Description Language (WSDL), a service description language. SOAP uses Web Services Description Language (WSDL), a service description language used to provide web services over the Internet. The WSDL specifies the available functions so a client program can connect and discover the functions offered by the web services. SOAP is not as famous today and is being replaced with new APIs, such as REST and GraphQL. SOAP works well in distributed enterprise environments and is still used for B2B applications because you can define a "data contract" with it. However, 70% of public APIs are RESTful in the web world. When a RESTful API is called, the server will transfer to the client a representation of the state of the requested resource. REST uses multiple standards like HTTP, JSON, URL, and XML. A REST API uses a Web Application Description Language (WADL), and it doesn’t require the extensive processing SOAP does, so it is faster. It is also easier to use and more efficient and flexible than SOAP. RESTful web APIs are typically loosely based on HTTP methods to access resources via URL-encoded parameters and using JSON or XML to transmit data. JSON ensures reliable, fast, and accessible data exchanges, so it is the most common data exchange format for working with RESTful APIs. Going mobile with Web 3.0 In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Nokia Symbian, Palm, and Blackberry mobile devices provided access to the Web. However, it wasn’t until the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and the Android smartphone in 2008 that mobile phones impacted delivering web content. In 2010, smart tablets came on the scene. REST APIs and JSON data format were vital to delivering content to mobile devices. This megatrend of providing content to mobile devices ushered in the mobile web era, which has also been called Web 3.0, to identify the shift from computers and laptops to mobile content delivery. By the beginning of 2014, mobile internet use exceeded desktop use in the U.S. This rise in content consumption by mobile devices presented a problem for the monolithic CMS that was explicitly created for delivering Web content to desktops and laptops. There was no way to provide content for desktop and mobile devices reliably. To address the rise of mobile web usage, developers began creating desktop and mobile versions of their websites, with mobile designs offering stripped-down versions of select desktop website pages. The mobile sites were on a separate subdomain called mobile or “” sites since the subdomains would end in “.m.” One problem that arose is that Google does not provide indexing of sites. Instead, Google only annotates the URLs to say the main website is mobile-friendly. In 2010, Ethan Marcotte introduced the term “responsive design,” which promoted a shift in thinking from the fixed design for desktop websites to responsive, fluid, adaptable layouts. To deliver on the promise of responsive design, the W3C created media queries as part of the CSS3 specification. A media query allows developers to ascertain the type of device and inspect the device's physical characteristics, such as the screen size. For example, using CSS you can use the @media rule to determine what screen size is being used and include a block of CSS properties for that device. Figure 2: Worldwide Mobile GrowthSource: StatCounter Global Stats ( The paradigm shift to omnichannel Omni means “all things” in Latin, so omnichannel refers to all possible channels. Just as the mobile track was disruptive to the delivery of web content, new channels, such as smartwatches, gaming consoles, and voice-activated devices like Amazon’s Echo (Alexa) and Google Home, continually appear, presenting content delivery problems for the traditional CMS. The paradigm shifts—from delivering content for a few channels to actual omnichannel content delivery that is flexible enough to support whatever tomorrow’s channels may come on the scene—demand a better solution, which was the decoupled and headless CMS solution. The decoupled and headless API-First CMS solution A decoupled system consists of two or more systems that can transact without being connected, similar to the separation of an HTML (content) file from a CSS (formatting) and a JavaScript (programming) file. A decoupled CMS allows developers to change the presentation (formatting) and behavior (programming) layer without affecting the site's content. Decoupled and headless are frequently used interchangeably, but there is a difference. A headless CMS does not have a front-end system or presentation environment. A headless CMS is API-first, which integrates content management tools via API. Separating formatting from content allows you to publish content to any device or channel. A decoupled CMS typically includes a front-end formatting system of templates. A headless CMS separates managing content from presenting formatted content; in other words, it removes the interdependency of presentation and behavior layers from the content. Moving from a coupled system to a decoupled headless CMS opens up a new world of managing content. The content hub architecture Key to the success of working with a headless CMS is the content hub architecture. A content hub centralizes all your content in one place using an API to deliver content anywhere. This content-centric approach accelerates and simplifies content management, letting your developers use the best-of-breed tools to create digital experience platforms (DXP) with omnichannel content delivery to help create more personalized customer journeys and more impactful digital experiences. Figure 3: The Content Hub Architecture Integration and frameworks Not only does the content hub architecture help you with omnichannel content delivery, but using a content hub also gives you more freedom for integration. A headless CMS following the content hub architecture lets you choose the best existing tools or services, such as marketing automation tools, analytics, a personalization engine, translation services, video delivery services, e-commerce platforms, and AI extensions. The world of technology is constantly changing at a rapid rate. There is always a new way of capturing and delivering customer data better, faster, and cheaper. Integrating a headless CMS with a content hub architecture makes it much easier to be agile and switch to new tools and services without disrupting your content or content delivery. Figure 4. Integration and the Content Hub Security and CMS solutions Most headless CMS offerings fall in the Content as a Service (CaaS) category, meaning the service is centralized and hosted on the Cloud. As with any CMS, you put your trust in your CMS vendor. This trust applies to any third-party applications that you integrate into your CMS as well. Using a reputable company with supported integrations that you can trust minimizes risk and ensures a safer, more secure site. Scalability Using a traditional CMS to handle traffic increases is a typical solution to add multiple servers running the CMS. This is time-consuming and expensive. A headless CMS can scale and additionally avoid database bottlenecks that you are likely to encounter using a traditional CMS. Scaling is much easier with a headless CMS since most headless CMS offerings are Cloud-hosted, so it is possible to adjust your Cloud infrastructure to match demand automatically. Another important technology for delivering content fast and on a global scale is the Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN is a network of servers spread around the globe. Static assets and dynamic content of your website are cached and saved on all the CDN’s servers. When a person requests a page, the website retrieves cached content from the nearest CDN server and delivers it to the client. Having a CDN-enabled headless CMS vastly improves the performance of providing content worldwide. The digital experience platform Gartner defines a digital experience platform (DXP) "as an integrated set of technologies, based on a common platform, that provides a broad range of audiences with consistent, secure, and personalized access to information and applications across many digital touchpoints. Organizations use DXPs to build, deploy, and continually improve websites, portals, mobile and other digital experiences." The headless CMS approach is quickly becoming a crucial component of the new generation of Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs). DXPs go significantly beyond web content management to create rich, engaging experiences for audiences addressing a multitude of channels. This ties in nicely with the content-hub architecture to enable any integration needed to deliver content to any channel. The importance of personalization Personalization is critical to building an effective Digital Experience Platform. Personalization means understanding your visitors’ interests and tailoring content to fit their needs and preferences, providing them with an experience they find relevant. The more relevant a person sees your message, the more you increase customer loyalty and revenue. Personalization is a mission-critical marketing activity. Using a headless CMS, personal data is made available via APIs, web services, and open data standards, so you are not tied down by data stored in a pre-built system. Personalization tools and services, such as Optimizely, Monetate, One Spot, Evergage, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and Adobe Target, all help you track and act on a visitor’s behavior, location, profile, and other attributes to create a dynamically personalized, highly relevant experience. By creating a more meaningful experience for your visitors, you’re also generating better business results. Artificial intelligence and machine learning In July 2018, at a Town Hall meeting in San Francisco, Google CEO Sundar Pichai called artificial intelligence “one of the most important things that humanity is working on,” saying it is “more profound than electricity or fire.” Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are ushering in the next digital transformation era. All major tech companies are following this mega-trend. Google offers TensorFlow; IBM, Watson, and AI OpenScale; Adobe, Sensi; SalesForce, Einstein; Amazon Lex and Amazon Rekognition; Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services; and Facebook announced it is expanding its AI research division to roughly 170 scientists and engineers. AI and machine learning are already having a significant impact on content management. Integrating your content hub with AI and machine-learning tools and services can help you discover hidden opportunities, speed up processes, and, most importantly, offer relevant digital experiences to customers. Personalization engines use AI and machine learning to deliver smarter, customized, and predictive customer experiences. In addition to the personalization services mentioned in the previous section, some examples of using content management with AI and machine language services and tools such as SEO optimization with CanIRank, MarketBrew, and BrightEdge; content creation and text analysis with MonkeyLearn, Acrolinx, Automated Insights, and Narrative Science; and translation services with KantanMT, and SYSTRAN. The headless CMS solution There will always be disruptive technologies that will change the CMS playing field. There is no doubt that AI and machine learning are going to play a massive role in the future of content management. The primary goal is to build the best digital experience platform with omnichannel delivery that is secure, scalable, and as future-proof as possible, such as Contentstack. By allowing you to integrate with new technologies and applications as they come on the scene, a headless CMS will likely be the longest-lasting solution in the history of content management systems. Schedule a free demo today. Written initially by Brent Heslop and updated by the Contentstack Team.