Headless CMS Integration with Jamstack Applications

Published: Applications

A headless CMS is a content management system that is decoupled from the work of returning and managing the views and page templates to the site's visitors. Unlike a traditional or ‘coupled’ architecture (where the backend is deeply integrated with the frontend) in a headless CMS, frontend and backend are completely separate systems.

The term “headless” comes from the uncoupling of the “head” (the front end) and the body (the back end). The CMS can focus on creating rich, powerful content authoring and editorial management workflows, without being weighed down or overly complicated because they’re tied into presentation concerns.

Although it’s an extremely common pattern, Jamstack sites don’t always have a headless CMS. Some teams choose to update content directly in markdown files, using the JavaScript framework of their choice. But for many Jamstack users, the ability to pick and choose a headless CMS that works for your team is one of the primary benefits.

Why Choose a Headless CMS + Jamstack? There are lots of benefits to a headless approach. Bloomreach covers all of them in their guide to everything you need to know about Headless CMSs. Let’s cover some of the main benefits of choosing a CMS on a Jamstack architecture.

Better Content Editing and Development Workflows: Not only does a Jamstack approach decouple the frontend from the backend, it helps teams decouple their workflows. With an all-in-one platform, any content changes to the site need to be reviewed and deployed by a webmaster. With a CMS like Bloomreach, content editors can make changes as they please, and developers can easily deploy to Netlify with Git-based workflows.

Better Performance: Jamstack sites are incredibly performant. The significant work done by frontend developers to deliver great performance can be undermined when it is either inefficiently rendered on servers at request time, or compromised by a tightly coupled, opinionated backend. Instead of waiting for pages to build on the fly, Jamstack sites generate at deploy time. When it comes to minimizing the time-to-first-byte, nothing beats pre-built files served over a CDN. Netlify Edge, for example, makes this possible with its global distribution with automated pre-rendering across multiple cloud providers.

Higher Security: With server-side processes abstracted into microservice APIs, surface areas for attacks are reduced. You can also leverage the domain expertise of specialist third-party services.

Cheaper, Easier Scaling: When your deployment amounts to a stack of files that can be served anywhere, scaling is a matter of serving those files in more places. Supercharged Content Delivery Networks like Netlify Edge are perfect for this.

Collaborative Workflows: Web development is a team sport. Jamstack is Git-based, and with collaborative tools and integrations with popular project management tools, Jamstack teams can create a tight feedback loop that works with developers’ workflows. Important details are less likely to get lost, and everybody wins.