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      Over the past few years, headless and decoupled architectures for content management system (CMS) websites have rapidly grown in popularity. A decoupled CMS separates the website’s back-end (i.e., database and server side programming language) from the front-end (i.e., HTML, CSS, Javascript), making the data from the back-end available to the front-end through the use of a REST API. Traditional CMS tightly couple these two aspects of a website, which can be useful for many cases. However, a decoupled CMS provides developers with more flexibility and control, which has contributed to its rise in popularity.

      According to W3Tech’s technology surveys, about 61% of the internet is powered by CMS websites. Many of these are personal blogs or simple marketing websites used by small businesses. For the vast majority of these websites, a traditional CMS architecture is perfectly suitable. The content creators can create and publish content that will be served to their visitors by their CMS’ built-in or customized views and templates.

      CMS platforms like WordPress and Squarespace make creating and designing a website relatively simple for non-technical users. However, WordPress is also a powerful CMS used by large companies that often have web applications with feature rich content, ecommerce, and data-driven user experiences. For this reason, and with considerations like website loading speed, many companies have chosen to decouple their CMS from the front-end presentation.

      In December 2015, WordPress added the REST API architecture to its core, making decoupled websites built on WordPress much easier to develop. Now, developers can employ modern Javascript frameworks like ReactJS, AngularJS, EmberJS, and others to develop highly customized, blazing fast websites. Bloated WordPress themes that often rely on action-based hooks, filters, and large unused markup files no longer slow these decoupled sites down or take up memory on their web server, making visitors and companies happy!

      There are some drawbacks to a decoupled architecture, however.

      Cost

      If your business does not have the budget to hire a team of software developers or a consulting company, using a traditional CMS with free or comparatively affordable themes might be a better option.

      Security

      A decoupled system essentially splits your application into at least two separate applications. Adding a second layer to your system means another layer that’s potentially vulnerable to attacks from hackers and other nefarious actors.

      Complexity

      WordPress has seemingly endless features and third-party plugins that allow you to easily structure your site to be SEO friendly, preview unpublished content the way website visitors will see it, and handle things like redirects. These types of problems will need to be solved by your software developers instead of piggybacking off the work already completed and tested by others.

      Decoupled CMS websites can be fast, flexible, and fun to use. As front-end technologies continue to evolve and improve, their use with decoupled CMS will likely grow. Depending on your website’s purpose, it may make sense to decouple the front-end from the back-end, but if you just have a traditional marketing website or personal blog, a decoupled CMS may be overkill.

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