There’s a buzz in the digital world about “going headless” with your Content Management System, or CMS.
To the unfamiliar, headless CMSs separate a website’s backend content repository (body) from the front-end website (head). In contrast to traditional, monolithic CMSs, headless CMSs’ centralized content repository allows you to create content just once before it is automatically delivered to any channel. What’s more, a headless CMS often offers improvements in security, site speed, flexibility, and cost.
But what do businesses gain from switching to a headless content management system? What impact would it have on the present and future success of your business? The short answer is that Storyblok, a powerful headless CMS solution, delivers a multitude of benefits, but perhaps none more significant than how it liberates organizations to choose any technology that meets their business needs.
Learn more about how Refactored leveraged Storyblok’s headless solution to build our client, Western Research Institute, a website that meets their business needs both now and in the future.
Spotlight: Western Research Institute
Western Research Institute (WRI) is a multimillion-dollar, not-for-profit research organization that works in advanced energy systems, environmental technologies, and highway materials research and technologies.
Having worked with Refactored for many years, WRI turned to us to help migrate their existing website from a traditional CMS solution (built in Sitefinity) to a headless solution that would open doors to using best-of-breed technology in the form of integrations and other solutions. Where the traditional, monolithic CMS they’d been using restricted them to only using technology in that solution’s ecosystem, WRI wanted to become more agile to future-proof their digital efforts.
Refactored recommended migrating to Storyblok for a range of benefits. Storyblok allowed them to consolidate website technology, use a centralized CMS across web properties and customer experiences, and, crucially, to do so with a modern architecture that would position them strongly for coming organizational change.
We explore the long-term benefits of Storyblok in greater detail below.
Storyblok is ideal for businesses that want to take back control of their digital world. Monolithic CMSs require you to play by their rules; you are confined to using their (often) mediocre integrations and dated point solutions (for features like community, ecommerce, or even site search) because they are betting you will not inconvenience yourself with a full-fledged migration away from their ecosystem.
But the benefits are too great to ignore. Headless CMSs give businesses like WRI the freedom to choose best-of-breed solutions (marketing automation, community, ecommerce) that fit your specific needs. Most importantly, if your needs change in the future, you will not have to build another site from the ground up to make that happen. Storyblok future-proofs your business so that you can be agile when required.
In a traditional CMS, a website must be programmed in the same language as the CMS itself. That can be problematic if the CMS is programmed in .NET or PHP and your organization lacks the development talent with that toolset. Even if you do have the talent, any and all integrations and solutions will be restricted to the language and framework defined by the current CMS. While not inherently harmful, WRI understood they should be able to switch to superior technology when they want to.
Headless CMSs like Storyblok do not dictate what coding technologies to use when building the website or integrating other solutions. Storyblok allows developers to use their preferred frameworks, languages, and tools—irrespective of the CMS’ programming language.
For these reasons, Refactored and WRI found Storyblok to be an ideal fit for their future business needs, as it provided them the flexibility required to pivot in technology use down the road.
Yet Storyblok had plenty of benefits to offer WRI in the present as well. On multiple fronts, WRI stood to gain competitive advantages that would yield immediate improvements in operational efficiency and digital performance.
Less Maintenance & More Security
When compared with a traditional CMSs, Storyblok is less vulnerable to hacking and other security threats. This is the case for multiple reasons:
- Decoupled Body & Head—With a monolithic CMS, the front-end and back-end of a website CMS are built and deployed from a central set of tools, so if malicious access of the CMS occurs, you are at an elevated risk of the public website being defaced or corrupted. Whereas with a headless CMS the experience is inherently decoupled, meaning the head (front-end of site) is detached from the body (content repository). Storyblok’s CMS is a web-based SaaS solution which uses “Static Site Generation” (SSG) to push out a static version of the website into a hyper-fast CDN hosting environment. Hacking attempts into the CMS will fail because the website and CMS are completely detached from one another. You can’t hack what you can’t access.
- WordPress Is a Prime Target—Because practically all WordPress sites use plugins, the sheer ubiquity of WordPress usage makes their sites prime targets for hacking attempts. To safeguard against such risks, WordPress owners need to constantly update themes, plugins, and apps, creating an endless burden that businesses like WRI can ill afford.
- Stress-Free Maintenance—The core CMS of Storyblok is fully maintained and regularly improved by Storyblok themselves. Hence, updates cannot “break” the website as is often the case with traditional CMS solutions where the CMS and presentation layer (front-end) of the site are coupled together.
Modern Hosting—A Monolithic CMS is typically hosted in outdated environments, often occurring on a single server and not taking advantage of the elasticity, scalability, and security of the cloud. If that server fails, the site goes down. Storyblok provides superior uptime performance because its sites are hosted within a Content Delivery Network (CDN), meaning the websites are hosted on multiple servers around the world so site traffic will get to your site by the fastest route possible based on location. Most importantly, there is no single point of failure with Storyblok; if one CDN node falters, another will seamlessly pick up the traffic. Long story short, WRI’s Storyblok site cannot go down with CDN technology.
Storyblok is the only Headless CMS with a visual editor. Content creators and other business users are often the last stakeholders to be consulted when selecting a CMS, resulting in developer-centric choices that fail to consider how easily non-technical users can adopt the new system.
With Storyblok, content creators use the visual editor to get real-time previews of website changes, even before those changes go live. The net effect is empowered content editors who can create and publish content without any developer handholding.
“Blok Building:” Components Over Templates
Traditional CMSs use templates to build and design webpages. But the more ad-hoc templates created, the more your site and content must comply with the rigid framework of the monolithic CMS on a template-by-template basis. This offers little flexibility when compared with Storyblok’s alternative.
Storyblok utilizes a “Blok building” methodology, which effectively is a reusable, component-based system that is easily duplicated within and across pages. Gone is the all or nothing mindset of page templates; Storyblok lets you repurpose individual page elements without needing to drag along the entire template, giving developers and content creators greater control at a granular level. WRI will no longer need developers to be involved in routine content creation or publishing, affording them greater operational efficiency across departments.
Improved SEO & Site Speed
Google has revealed that 40% of users will leave a website that takes more than three seconds to load. Modern consumers expect streamlined digital experiences and will quickly look elsewhere if their UX is subpar. Furthermore, Google prioritizes SERPs when a tiebreaker is needed, always promoting a faster site over one that is slower.
Headless CMSs like Storyblok do not suffer from this issue. When built properly, the back-end code is more efficient, increasing site speed and reducing time to market with lightning-fast content delivery on any digital touchpoint. Faster page load times with tailored content improve both user experience and SEO performance.
Storyblok comes at a reasonable price point when compared to many monolithic CMS options on the mid-market. And when weighed against other first-rate headless CMS solutions, it is significantly more economical. Crucially, WRI did not sacrifice any features or functionality with Storyblok.
Refactored Makes it Happen
WRI has been working with Refactored for years because they trust us to put their business needs first. Not all organizations have that luxury, however. Some choose the type of agency that fails to prioritize their clients, while others might work with a firm that simply does not have the technical expertise to provide the right advice on leveraging modern architectures.
In contrast, we facilitated WRI's headless migration project to ensure the new website would be intuitive for both the client and their website visitors. The new website is engineered to enable ecommerce and manage the complexities of an online community moving forward.
With Refactored’s guidance, Storyblok’s solution future-proofed WRI’s architecture by giving them superior flexibility so they are equipped to thrive no matter what the future holds.
“We always start designing a site with usability in mind—for both our clients and their customers.” Kile Lindgren, Partner & Solutions Architect
Organizations like WRI can make decisions with peace of mind because they know Refactored will help them choose a CMS that is:
1) Right for their business
2) Developed properly from back end to front
3) Optimized to ensure maximum long-term value
Even Storyblok, with all its powerful benefits, could be a net negative for your company if it is not implemented correctly by those who know both the solution and your business goals. Refactored specializes in connecting those two worlds to yield material, long-term value. Reach out to us today to build momentum in your marketing practice.