7 benefits you get from a hybrid CMS
A hybrid CMS offers the best of traditional and headless CMS. How?
Headless CMS seems to be on every digital manager’s or web editor’s mind these days. With the advent of IoT and connected devices of literally any size or format, it makes perfect sense to be able to send your quality content to whatever channel that seems fitting.
But if you look past the headless hype, you’ll find a pressing issue: Most digital experiences still consist of websites meant for the most common channels, like desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. Most digital experiences will have the website as their centerpiece in the foreseeable future, but a purely headless CMS is not ideal for maintaining fully-fledged websites.
This is where a hybrid CMS—the mix between traditional and headless CMS—enters the frame. Let’s take a closer look at 7 benefits you get from a hybrid CMS.
How to choose the right headless CMS:
1. Headless and traditional websites in one
A headless CMS is basically just a database with an API. With the API you can send your content or snippets of your content to different channels—like digital signage, wristbands, smart watches, AR glasses, or as a part of third-party websites. A purely headless CMS thus offers you minimal help to build complete websites, as the tie between content and presentation is cut.
Most organisations need websites first and foremost, but headless is not focused on traditional web. This means that your organisation must likely have two systems running simultaneously—one for the headless delivery of content to other channels, and one for maintaining a website, including templates, visuals, URL handling, and everything else that is required.
But why should you have two systems? Enter the hybrid: With a hybrid CMS you can deliver websites and headless APIs and apps—from one system. What’s not to like?
See also: What is atomic content design?
2. Customise your APIs
Most headless content management systems are so-called “cloud-native” and come with a database and an API out of the box. The API is therefore fixed and standardised, often by courtesy of the pure headless vendors being software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and not offering a platform.
In hybrid content management systems you get more flexibility to tailor the APIs from the vendor to your custom requirements, for instance customising a “blog post API,” for sending the contents of your blog posts to another application in a special format.
Customisable APIs lets you more easily integrate your content with other systems, and is most applicable to public APIs, where you offer data to others.
3. URL handling
A URL (uniform resource locator) is the web address of your content, and can help you get a grip of your content hierarchy, help your visitors to orient themselves, and help search engines find what users are looking for through carefully planned keywords.
A traditional or a hybrid CMS gives you full control over your URLs. In a headless CMS, however, your developers decide the URLs, and there are no structured URLs as there is no tree structure logic present.
As mentioned, a hybrid CMS gives you full control over the URL management—making your daily operations more flexible. You can for instance mix between letting your developers decide URLs for certain types of content that are meant for APIs and apps, and let the CMS decide the URLs for other types of content meant for classic website usage.
URLs are important for the reasons mentioned, and especially for SEO purposes. Don’t let this vital issue be left to headless chance.
Don’t miss: 5 reasons to choose Enonic as your CMS »
4. Landing page editing
Editing your website’s landing pages is something most web editors take for granted. While it is possible to edit landing pages with headless, it’s through forms—i.e. a hard coded schema system.
With a hybrid CMS, you get all the advantages from a traditional CMS, including visual landing page editing. However, the strongest point in favour of hybrids is the flexibility this kind of platform offers: You can make landing pages available through APIs, letting the landing page structure be used in a headless approach. Also, you can mix between fetching data and ready made HTML fragments in your platform, allowing for unlimited possibilities and combinations of headless data fetching and CMS generated content.
5. Content preview
Where a headless CMS cuts the tie between content and presentation, a hybrid CMS allows you to preserve it when needed. The tie is particularly useful when it comes to previewing your content. As a traditional CMS includes a templating engine in the system, it also enables handy previews of your content.
As for your headless content, it can be shown in widely different formats and places. It is, however, possible to make a standard preview to get a general, but useful impression of your content.
As mentioned, if you want a pure headless CMS and a traditional website, you must maintain two systems. Imagine what such an arrangement does to your search. Will it be fast and user-friendly? Or will it potentially be tedious, prompting you to switch between two systems to find what you’re looking for?
A hybrid CMS searches across all your content, due to everything being in one system. Also, everything you search for has a presentation. A presentation is not available in headless, where the content is floating around in a database without URLs.
7. Fast deployment
Making your content and services available in a fast manner is one of the serious advantages with headless. A headless approach lets you easily and quickly model the structure of the data. You can in fact go live with your content API in just a few hours, if you base your system on headless use only.
In a hybrid CMS you get to keep the advantage of fast deployment for any content with the headless part. Content using the traditional CMS features must undergo the regular templating development, of course, but now you also have the option to deliver content with presentation.
With a hybrid CMS you get the best of both worlds. You get more flexibility, yet fewer systems to make your hair turn gray. Look beyond the headless hype and think long term—what your organisation really needs and what methods are the best to achieve your goals.
First published 11 February 2019. Updated 11 May 2020.