Should you lose your head over a Headless CMS? 

Any digital agency worth their salt will tell you that a CMS, or content management system, is a must-have for authoring content. Recently, developers and content creators alike have dreamed of a faster, more innovative take on traditional content management. 

Fingo has increasingly responded to client queries about the Headless CMS and we have seen its rise in popularity.

But while the hype around Headless CMS is real, you might want to step back and see if it's really for you. Here, Fingo discusses the pros and cons of a Headless CMS and compares it to its traditional architecture so you can have an informed choice and provide your readers a greater digital experience.  

Traditional CMS vs. Headless CMS

Traditionally, a CMS is used to store and manage content by installing software, whether managed on your own or through other servers. The traditional CMS has a “head”, which describes where your content is typically placed (and eventually read) through the server, and a “body”, which determines where your content is stored. 

Traditional CMSs are self-hosting, typically done through webpage software, and are perfect for those wanting to operate through a single-system. This makes the traditional route perfect for bloggers with a smaller audience as CMS typically requires one download and install.  

The point of a Headless CMS is that instead of coupling your content to a webpage or other digital server, it refers your content as data into an API system—an application programming interface. While the Headless CMS still has the same database and software as an original CMS, doing away with the “head” and “body” means you don’t need to work with traditional “front-and-back” systems, or become familiar with the same presentation environments as is necessary when working with a regular CMS. Put simply, Headless CMS users have more control over where their content goes! 

Pros and Cons of a Headless CMS

A Headless CMS might be a daunting concept, but it gives marketers the ability to properly manage and work on content, and provide that content to developers for plug-in applications. Generally with a Headless CMS, you’re looking at a more modern and interactive interface for your blog, website or online business. 


Faster Editing, Your Way 

You’re able to edit faster with a Headless CMS than with a traditional CMS. This means that the traditional CMS is more expensive, time-consuming and deals more with rendering and stylising content than you’re faced with when using a Headless CMS. With a Headless CMS, writers and developers can also collaborate more effectively and get more work done. 

Flexible Coding and Software Choices 

More time editing and revising content also means more flexibility. This works specifically for HTML coding and frontend tooling on the developers’ end. Because a Headless CMS is mostly overseen through API software, developers can swap and change coding software, frontend tooling and more. If Javascript doesn’t work for you, you can run your content through Gatsby instead. Frameworks can also be heavily edited and changed around, without impacting your content directly.  

Your Content Future, Secured 

Because a Headless CMS is a relatively new model, agencies can easily integrate it into new technology. It can also readily be integrated into most software updates and expansions. This makes a Headless CMS the more innovative choice for content creation when compared with a traditional CMS since the former can be easily changed, arranged and rearranged based on different software, programming and server types. 

The technical bit (we’ll keep this part as short as possible)

Because a Headless CMS can be integrated easily, you can push your content more broadly into cyberspace along multiple platforms and servers. This gives a Headless CMS the advantage over a traditional CMS as the latter doesn’t quite have the same reach. Therefore, with a Headless CMS bringing you more control over your content, including how and where it’s seen, you can be sure your data is reached and is reusable. 

How Fingo have used Headless CMS technology

At Fingo, many of our clients are from both the Property and e-commerce sectors. Both types of clients can really benefit from this code if they have multiple channels to post to. A great example is some of our property clients who have listings that are to appear on multiple portals for example Zoopla, Rightmove, and in-office immersive marketing suites with touch screen listings of available properties. 



This doesn’t mean that a Headless CMS is without cons. 

We often meet clients who come to us for a second opinion because an agency has eagerly pushed them to choose a Headless CMS. In our opinion these recommendations are often an excessive response to the problem, and aren’t justified by the business case. 

It does not surprise us that some agencies push this technology indiscriminately - it’s very costly and boosts the profit margins and recurring revenue of the agency. 

However Fingo believes in empowering clients, and we choose our technology based on business goals and budget. We only recommend bespoke code in some cases, preferring an off-the-shelf wherever possible because this liberates our clients and protects their budget.

You’re tied in

Due to the complexity of code required for Headless websites, in-house marketing teams don’t have the digital skillset to maintain and upgrade the website.  This ultimately means you’re handcuffed to the services of a digital agency to maintain your CMS, with long term retainers and high costs. And not just any agency, only a select few agencies are lucky enough to employ highly skilled developers (like our team at Fingo) who can competently take on and maintain the code.

It’s worth mentioning that Fingo have used WordPress plugins for simpler websites that mimic a Headless functionality, without the extortionate cost - which can be a very good fit for some of our clients if budget is an issue.

Less self-reliant 

A traditional CMS might not have as much reach as its newer counterpart, but it is more self-reliant. 

Due to having a “head”, a traditional CMS isn’t reliant on other software developers to distribute content. Having a predetermined presentation style—such as a website, for example, or an e-commerce platform—helps keep simplicity on your side, so you don’t have to configure and style every piece of code, structure and presentation. 

Difficult to see live previews 

A traditional CMS also makes it easier for developers to gain access to a “live” preview of the presentation style. Having an easy overview before your content goes live means you can easily check for mistakes, arrange last minute touch ups, and otherwise make sure all is well with your presentation. 

With a Headless CMS, it’s difficult to see a live preview because of the lack of development software aiding it; a traditional CMS operates under a single server, making it truly independent software. A Headless CMS is too reliant on other technologies due to having no set presentation or style. 

Fingo’s approach to website development

Fingo has been developing websites for 18 years and we have a business-focused approach to our technical development. 

Your website should be built specifically to proactively and independently create sales opportunities, drive traffic, sell products and convert sales and leads. Before starting any website design or improvement project we seek to answer a simple question: what problem are we solving?

It could be stagnating growth because of a lack of sales leads, the wrong type of sales leads or low conversion rates.

That’s how we make the right choice around the design, code and build for your website.  

If you’re thinking about improving your existing website or starting from scratch, don’t hesitate to get in touch