How “headless” can build allies among marketing and technology teams

Headless is much discussed and highly lauded as the biggest enabler of modern web experiences. Put simply, headless is the separation of a website’s front-end (what the customer sees) from the back-end of the content management platform (what the developers and website owners see).

By giving businesses the freedom to build whatever web experience they want, whenever they need, headless empowers brands to rapidly react to market changes, enabling teams to launch new experiences and services at lightning pace. Headless is a true brand differentiator.

Why should we care about headless?

For most tech teams, awareness of ‘headless’ basic benefits is quite high. However, deep understanding of its true potential is lacking. When used right, headless doesn’t just give tech teams more control over web performance, it represents the best possible way for teams to deliver rich experiences quickly, in an agile manner, and across multiple channels.

After all, if we rewind to the birth of web content management, building a website boiled down to a group of developers coming together to meticulously craft every web page manually. Need to make any changes further down the line, as invariably happens with the ever-evolving website beast? Log your amendment, add it to the dev queue, and play the waiting game.

As web development evolved, along came website templates, which gave website development control to the marketers, often leaving developers focused on website maintenance. In some scenarios, with marketing in almost full control of web management and with a lack of developer input, the user experience suffered.

Make no mistake, a template approach is well-suited to making changes on the fly to static content on web pages, but as soon as more modern, sophisticated web experiences – such as omnichannel, mobile apps, IoT – are added to the mix, templates don’t always allow brands to react in the rapid and agile manner that online users now demand.

However, headless (when done right) is the perfect way of dealing with that complexity. It offers a centralised platform to manage content and experiences, disseminate best practice across the business, and provide technology teams with a high degree of customisation and flexibility. And headless does all of this while still affording marketing teams an element of control over the customer experience.

3 biggest benefits of headless

One of the most exciting draws of headless, is that it has a lot of use cases – from basic web design to content and product management. When it comes to content management, it unlocks a wealth of benefits around flexibility, speed, and scale.

1) Agility: Major Australian bank NAB uses the headless capabilities of Adobe Experience Manager to deliver essential updates quickly and efficiently via a number of channels – including dev apps like React, kiosks, and the web – even during a crisis. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, using the headless capabilities of Adobe Experience Manager, the bank was able to publish four times as many content updates to keep customers informed and engaged during such difficult economic times.

2) Omnichannel content: Global electronics retailer Best Buy used Experience Fragments – part of Adobe Experience Manager – to take advantage of headless content and create more consistent experiences across email, web, and social media.

3) Scale: Headless content delivery allows mass media conglomerate ViacomCBS to support centralised authoring across millions of Content Fragments, which can be re-used across websites, apps, and partner systems such as Apple TV and Netflix.

Sites and Assets: Headless gives the best of both worlds

From a software engineering perspective, going fully headless gives developers complete control of web management, but this often results in drawbacks for the rest of the business. With a deluge of marketing requests to contend with, developers can get quickly bogged down in a backlog queue, content becomes locked in silos, and the customer experience becomes increasingly fragmented.

However, when web development teams are armed with a single, agile headless solution, it becomes that much easier to create more dynamic web experiences, integrate with commerce solutions, and tackle all the challenges of web development in one single place.

Adobe combines the power of Adobe Experience Manager Sites and Assets into a single compelling content platform, giving developers the freedom and flexibility to rapidly make front-end changes without becoming bogged down in the back-end, while also ensuring marketers still retain the ability to make contextual edits to single page applications that ultimately enhance the customer journey and experience.

We know that getting development teams and marketers on the same page, and creating customer-focused web experiences at speed is a goal for almost every company. A headless platform allows engineers to retain all the flexibility they crave while also providing a solution that frees technology and marketing teams to focus on the areas that matter most to them – the areas that ultimately contribute to a top-class, content-driven experience for every user and customer.