Searching for the right CMS.
For companies like Morningstar, who are looking to replace their legacy CMS with something more effective and efficient, the process can be daunting. Not only is it a complicated and crowded space with multiple types of CMS technologies to choose from — coupled, decoupled, headless, or hybrid — there is confusion around what these different CMS architectures do and why one would be better than another.
To help you better understand the choices out there, let’s take a brief look at the difference between these CMS architectures:
In a coupled or traditional CMS architecture, the content management system, where content is
created, is “coupled” with the system that delivers or publishes the content. Blogging platforms such as Wordpress or Squarespace are examples of a coupled CMS where the authoring capabilities are part of the live delivery system. The benefit of a coupled system is that it is easy to set up and deploy for a single instance, such as a website, and it doesn’t require users to have much technical or coding expertise. The drawback, however, is that a coupled infrastructure is more complex to scale, migrate, or integrate, limiting developer’s ability to push content out to third-party applications, such as IoT-connected devices.
A decoupled system separates the authoring and delivery into two disconnected applications and sometimes even different infrastructures. To publish, content is pushed from the underlying content repository to a content delivery infrastructure. This gives the organization greater flexibility — marketers can create content and developers can focus on coding. The downside to a decoupled approach is that once a delivery system is selected, the publishing capabilities are limited to that delivery system.
A headless CMS architecture decouples the content and presentation just like a decoupled CMS, but unlike a decoupled CMS, it doesn’t limit the publishing capabilities of the CMS. What makes a headless CMS most appealing is that it eliminates the difficulty of reusing content on multiple channels. Developers have the flexibility to use any front-end framework and develop custom customer experiences — whether that’s for a website, a single-page application, virtual reality, or the Internet of Things.
Yet the capability to easily reuse content in any coding language comes at a cost in both headless and decoupled content management systems. Without the user-friendly structure of templates found in a coupled CMS, non-technical business users, such as creative and marketing teams, cannot easily create and publish content on their own. This can make content creation costlier and slow down the process — limiting how nimble companies can be at pushing out content to their customers.
A hybrid CMS combines both a coupled and headless approach to content management. With a hybrid approach, developers have the freedom to build and customize on any front-end framework by using RestFul APIs and Content Services, much as they would in a headless environment. At the same time, a hybrid CMS lets you use templates to author and publish content — just as you would in a coupled CMS architecture.