Content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Drupal power a sizable portion of websites. A CMS handles everything from text to digital graphics, layout, and navigation between pages. It eliminates the need for coding, making it easy for non-technical people to edit and develop a website.
Traditional content management systems provide the convenience of having all the tools needed in one place, but that is no longer sufficient. Today's content has various formats and can be displayed on a wide range of devices and communication channels.
Two new technologies, Headless CMS and No-code development aim to solve some of the problems that users face with traditional CMSs. In this article, you see what these technologies are and their strong and weak points. By the end of the article, you'll have a better picture of what tool to select to address your business and project needs better.
What Is No Code Development?
No code is basically a set of tools, platforms, and technologies that allow you to build applications without writing any code, so it's a very descriptive term. Some of these platforms are all-inclusive, highly visual software environments where you can build an entire web app or a mobile application just by clicking and dragging different components onto a canvas and connecting things up.
By using this structured method instead of writing line-by-line code, developers can create applications faster, allowing them to focus on bigger, more challenging projects. Business analysts, office managers, and small business owners with little or no experience in software development can also benefit from the no-code approach. Professionals in these fields can develop applications without knowing anything about platform development, machine code, or programming languages.
A traditional programming solution requires certain abilities, environments for development, deployment procedures, testing procedures, etc. "No-code" platforms combine this labor behind an intuitive graphical user interface. Users drag and drop reusable components to create automated workflows by linking them together. These components are just visual representations of code. No-code is a true drag-and-drop process designed for non-technical users and typically used for front-end tactical applications that handle straightforward functions.
No Code Benefits
The popularity of no-code solutions is growing for several reasons.
Faster time to market: Since no-code website builders work with pre-made building templates, businesses can quickly go from an initial concept to a finished product.
Smaller teams: It is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to hire software developers worldwide. Since no-code website tools don't require high-skilled developers, businesses can take action without maintaining a large skill of experts.
Fewer Costs: Companies can save thousands of dollars by not hiring developers and being more efficient. No-code tools are significantly more affordable than other technological solutions, thanks to pre-built and out-of-the-box solutions.
Easy maintenance and updates: Websites and mobile applications must be updated frequently to include new features, fix bugs, and address other issues. This has been a daunting task, but with no code, even when the app is being used, a new feature can be created, or a bug can be fixed. Implementing changes happens much more quickly than was initially anticipated.
No Code Limitations
No code solutions are a relatively new technology and certainly face some limitations.
Platform dependent: Users are restricted to the features that the no-code platform they are using has to offer. On some occasions, it might be challenging to implement certain functionalities. Therefore, a business becomes reliant on a third-party technology provider. Users cannot control elements like cost, service quality, or security.
Future planning and limited flexibility: There are many no-code tools available today. However, businesses must add more tools to meet their needs if a project requires features outside of the standard cases. These tools quickly become challenging to use as they "stack on top" of one another.
Poor documentation: When a business uses no-code tools, there is typically no clear documentation. While this might be acceptable now, it will become a significant problem if a company decides to switch to a new system in the future.
What Is Headless CMS?
Headless CMS is a new type of content management system. It's a software as a service (SaaS) where the content is separated from the output. The headless part means you can have multiple heads and switch them out as needed without re-authoring your content. Basically, each output is the head, while the body is where the content is created and stored.
A head could consist of multiple websites, mobile applications, social media networks, etc. As content in a headless system is not bound to the presentation layer, you can use whatever technology suits your needs to build your applications. The flexibility of choosing heads or technologies to output your content makes a headless CMS so appealing.
Although the content creators still have an interface and databases to store their content, there's no web application, just raw content coming from your headless CMS. Ideally, you would want to have as many heads as you want, including e-commerce systems, mobile apps, and other types of content. So the idea behind headless is to have as many choices as possible, and the approach is designed to support any upcoming technologies.
Headless CMS Benefits
Efficient Content Development: Headless CMS allows content developers to focus solely on content creation for their company. Your website will function properly on all platforms and devices, including mobile apps, IoT devices, smartwatches, single-page websites, etc. How it's designed to work guarantees that your users will have access to the same content regardless of their device.
High-level Security: A headless CMS disconnects a company's content publishing platform from the CMS database, reducing the risk of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and making data less vulnerable to manipulation. Developers can also hide the API behind multiple layers of code, making it very difficult for an attacker to break in.
Low Costs: Headless CMS allows you to build new websites and add new features to existing projects faster and at reduced costs. Additionally, maintenance and management have also become cheaper and easier. The flexibility to select all the components of your technology stack allows you to pick the most suitable options that match your expertise and your budget.
Speed: A headless CMS guarantees faster delivery of content to your users. A single piece of content can be used again in a variety of presentation formats, and this also adds to the increased speed of project completion.
Scalability: Headless CMS separates the content from the presentation layer, making it fast and scalable and allowing you to grow your business as your digital presence expands.
Headless CMS Limitations
Not easy to use: A Headless CMS isn't beginner-friendly, and users who aren't technically inclined may have trouble working with it. Therefore, they might need to collaborate with an expert or a team of experts to make the most out of it.
Having to design from scratch: A Headless CMS doesn't come with any templates or pre-built themes. This might give you more creative freedom, but it also means that you must design the entire UI.
Lack of preview: A headless CMS lacks a dedicated front end, so users are unable to preview their work. This might cause errors that are time-consuming and difficult to fix.
More things to manage: With Headless CMS architecture, besides content, you must manage the presentation layer of your app. This means more resources and more effort are required.
More information about headless CMS can be found in this article.
No Code Development and Headless CMS – A Head to Head Comparison
Thanks to pre-built components, templates, and straightforward hosting, no-code tools are more affordable for businesses, especially for small projects and app prototyping. In contrast to a headless CMS, you don't need to develop the frontend separately and ensure it's properly integrated with your backend. The time and money you save by using a no-code solution are considerable. Maintaining a headless CMS is more expensive. Running a website or app requires expensive infrastructure and skilled developers who are difficult and costly to find.
No-code solutions are the better option when the time to market is a crucial factor for your project. Using templates and pre-made components allows for creating a website or an application more quickly. On the other hand, many headless CMSs lack accessible content creation options and have a more complex architecture. Infrastructure must be planned, managed, and maintained for each component. If you don't do it properly, you'll have problems with performance, reliability, and scalability and will require more time to fix.
For new businesses that need to create a website or app and start making money, no-code tools are more than sufficient. However, they might not be appropriate if you intend to expand your business and eventually cover a variety of devices or systems. You might have a serious issue if your project extends beyond a typical use case. A headless CMS, on the other hand, enables developers to use their preferred tools and tailor the websites and mobile applications to the project's expanding scope or shifting needs.
No-code platforms may have privacy and security problems. Hosting data on a vendor's server means you cannot control the source code or storage. Consequently, it is impossible to identify security breaches or data loss issues, and it might also violate data protection regulations. With a headless CMS, you have more control over the code and can isolate the presentation layer from the content. You don't need to be concerned about frontend security issues being affected by backend security flaws.
No-code platforms reduce the reliance on IT departments and reduce their workload. The IT department can instead concentrate on more challenging duties like monitoring and maintaining intricate websites and apps. A headless CMS needs developer support when it comes to configuring or customizing the user experience. This may cause slowdowns and reduce the flexibility of the process.
Wrapping Things Up
Both no-code platforms and headless CMS have their advantages and disadvantages. It's important to remember that there isn't a clear-cut winner, and the technology you'll select will largely depend on your needs.
If you want fast time to market, have basic needs, and your budget is low, then a no-code solution is probably ideal for you. On the other hand, if scalability and security are your first concern and you don't lack technical skills, then a headless CMS would be preferable.