Why we use a headless CMS

William Woodhead
Jul 10, 2018 · 4 min read
The new Pilcro blog on pilcro.com

Last month we launched the Pilcro.com blog. It was a huge achievement for us and something we had really been looking forward to. With a blog on your own domain, you can write content that drives traffic directly to your domain, and gain all the SEO benefits for yourself.

However, working out how to host and manage our own blog site wasn’t easy.

This is how we made the decision to use Prismic as a Headless CMS for our blog hosting and why it was a really great move for us.

Hosting our blog on Medium

The Pilcro blog on medium.com

When we started Pilcro we hosted our blog on Medium. Medium is a great blog site that gives you so much out of the box, for free.

  • Beautiful editor for drafting
  • Blog archive
  • Search capabilities
  • Publish and distribute to a large community
  • Beautiful looking blogs on web and mobile
  • Dynamic metadata for each blog
  • Analytics for your blogs

This is all well and good. But once you get more established, it’s quite frustrating that the people who are reading your carefully written content, aren’t hanging out on your domain.

Also, you aren’t in control of the source code of the webpage they are visiting which makes bespoke analytics, marketing opportunities, and personalisation almost impossible.

Requirements for our own blog

We needed to get people reading blogs on our own domain to supercharge our marketing strategy. But, as we have seen above, dedicated blog sites give you a lot of features, precisely so that you do not have to worry about building them yourself at great expense.

We really didn’t want to spend months building all these features, but we also didn’t want to host our blog on another domain or on another codebase.

So here was our list of fundamental requirements for our blog site:

  • Our marketing team could write & publish blogs easily
  • Dynamic metadata for each blog so that they look great when you share them and can be indexed by search crawlers.
  • Beautiful looking blogs on web and mobile
  • potential for search capabilities in the future
  • Quick and easy to set up

Headless CMS

With these in mind, we started reading about Headless CMS. It was a term that we had never heard before and it confused the hell out of us.

So what is it? Headless CMS is a Content Management System without a front-end. There is no theme to choose, no pages or UI to build your web pages. Its Wordpress but you provide the webpage.

There is no presentation layer.

You create the content, but you don’t specify where it is presented. The content itself is only available as raw content that can be requested by apps via a programmatic API.

Having a Headless CMS is a perfect fit for our requirements at Pilcro. We can be in control of the presentation layer, ie. our existing website, but we can still get all the other great features of a CMS platform out of the box.

With this in mind we looked extensively at two possible solutions: Contentful and Prismic. They both offer very sophisticated Headless CMS platforms that fulfilled a large part of our requirements.

Making the choice

prismic.io marketing homepage

In the end we chose Prismic. We did this for a number of reasons:

  1. Prismic’s pricing model suited us better.
  2. Contentful dealt with rich text as markdown whereas Prismic offers full rich text editer capabilities like you might find in Medium or Word. This was a big deal for us because we didn’t want to have to teach our marketing team how to use markdown.
  3. The Prismic content creation app is very well designed.

It has been a great choice going with Prismic. We use Prismic for content all across out site from the blog to our legals and FAQs. The API also has search capabilities for us to experiment with in the future.

Why Headless CMS is a game changer

The best thing about using a headless CMS is how liberating it is. Your tech stack becomes infinitely more scalable, manageable and dynamic.

Headless CMS frees you to present your content wherever you need it, on any application you have built or want to build.

This separation of content from presentation allows us to move very quickly and effectively as a dev team, and as a marketing team.

If you liked this story, please 👏 and please share with others. Also please check out my company pilcro.com. Pilcro is the brand management app for G-Suite.

Originally published on https://www.pilcro.com

We’re here to share our mission: to help people with technology.

Thanks to Patrick Woodhead, Xanthe Kueppers, and Hugo Woodhead

William Woodhead

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