Traditional to headless CMS — why and how

Your company is using a traditional, fully-featured CMS that promises to provide an all-rounded digital customer experience, but teams continuously need to work around it in order to deliver? Licensing and hosting costs are high, and in addition, you also need developers just to maintain the product and assist content creation teams? You hear complaints regarding the CMS from different parts of the organisation, saying it’s limiting capabilities in digital marketing and new service development? Chances are, you’ve already heard of headless CMS by now and wonder if it could solve these needs any better, and if it could fit your organisation.

Too often I’ve heard stories where a traditional CMS was changed into another traditional, or changed to headless, or headless changed to traditional and still people are unhappy with the result and want a new change. I’m going to reveal a secret: technology change alone is never a solution to this problem. Or to most problems for that matter. In order to do my part and reduce the number of disappointed people telling those stories, I’m going to explore in this article:

  • How an organisation suffering from the limitations of a traditional CMS could transition to a headless one.
  • What areas in the organisation this change affects and how
  • What technical capabilities are needed in order to do this
  • How to not fail when doing a transition like this

You will hear if traditional CMS causes you pain

Utilising these workarounds is fine for experiments and smaller-scale projects, which first need to prove themselves before being fully integrated into the core offering and processes of an organisation. Nevertheless, if you listen to your marketing, development and content creation teams, and you hear it becoming a continuous issue and reason for delays in project deliveries, it’s a good time to start investigating headless CMS alternatives.

How headless CMS changes the way we work

New projects, such as product experiments or larger marketing campaigns can quickly plug into the existing, already created content, and borrow the work already done to build similar look-and-feel experiences if they want. They could also create their own content, and build their own front-end experiences from it. But content creation gets more complex for content authors and editors, as headless CMS editing interfaces usually don’t have WYSIWYG editors (yet). We’ll deal more with this dilemma later in this blog.

Since headless CMS is consumed with APIs like most other modern SaaS services, it’s a perfect place to pick and choose the best pieces to build the full service: best CMS, best AB testing tool, best marketing automation tools, best ecommerce platform, best payment gateways etc. You are not tied to the traditional CMS seller’s ecosystem (although open-source platforms like WordPress and Drupal have almost limitless offering on those), but the world is your oyster. Some services plug together easily like Duplo-blocks, while others require more tinkering and creating integrations. So choose wisely, and take into account your organisation’s technical competence and resources.

Is my organisation ready for headless?

Content authors





By understanding where you stand today, what in-house capabilities you will need and what you can outsource, you can start moving toward an organisation that can successfully handle the change tomorrow. Or a month from now. Or a year.


In an upcoming blog, we will look into the concrete requirements you should consider when choosing a headless CMS. Of course, your mileage may vary, but we can offer a solid list that will work as a starting point for any company.

As sales are going digital, IT’s role is becoming increasingly crucial. What is the role of IT as a sales enabler in future companies? Can new ways of working make IT an active driver for digital sales instead of being just a back-office function? Should investments be focused on enabling data capabilities, sales process automation, or on leading customer experience?

Join our free webinar on how to go from business and cost-driven IT toward sales-driven IT. Learn what it takes to make IT a driver of digital sales, on November 4th, 2020.

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