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What is a headless website?

A headless website is a website architecture where the front-end presentation layer (the "head") is decoupled from the back-end content management system (the "body"). This means that the front-end of the website is built using technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, while the back-end is used solely to manage and store the content of the website, such as text, images, and videos.

In a traditional website, the front-end and back-end are tightly integrated, making it difficult to make changes to the front-end without affecting the back-end. In a headless website, the separation of the two layers allows for greater flexibility and scalability, as the front-end can be updated and improved independently of the back-end.

Headless websites are becoming increasingly popular as they offer several benefits over traditional websites, including improved performance, better integration with modern technologies, and greater control over the look and feel of the website.

What is the difference between a headless website and a headless commerce website?

A headless website and a headless commerce website differ in their purpose and functionality.

A headless website is a content management system (CMS) that separates the front-end from the back-end, allowing for greater flexibility in design and faster load times. Content can be managed and published through the CMS backend while developers have the freedom to build custom front-end interfaces that can display the content in various ways such as apps or IoT devices.

On the other hand, a headless commerce website is an e-commerce platform that follows the same concept of having separate front-end and back-end systems. However, the focus of a headless commerce website is to provide a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels and devices. The back-end of the platform is responsible for inventory management, order processing, and payment processing, while the front-end interface is responsible for displaying the product catalog and facilitating the purchase process.

In short, a headless website focuses on content publishing and management, while a headless commerce website focuses on selling products across multiple channels and devices.

Examples of headless websites

There are a growing number of headless websites being adopted by businesses and organizations around the world. Some examples of headless sites include:

  1. The e-commerce site Nike.com, which uses a headless architecture to provide a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels and devices.
  2. Klarna offers a range of online payment solutions. They leverage a headless architecture to deliver a seamless user experience across various platforms and devices on their website.
  3. IKEA - The Swedish furniture giant uses a headless architecture for its e-commerce platform. The website's front-end is built using React and Gatsby, while the back-end is powered by a suite of microservices.

Components of a headless site

A headless site typically consists of the following components:

  1. Content Management System (CMS): This is the back-end system that is responsible for managing the content of the website. It allows content creators to add, edit, and delete content from the site.
  2. Application Programming Interface (API): The API is responsible for serving the content to the front-end of the website. It acts as a bridge between the CMS and the front-end.
  3. Front-end framework: The front-end framework is used to build the user interface of the website. It uses the content provided by the API to render the website.
  4. Hosting environment: The website needs to be hosted on a server or cloud platform where it can be accessed by users.
  5. Third-party services: A headless website may also use third-party services for additional functionality, such as e-commerce integration, analytics, or marketing automation.

Overall, the key advantage of a headless site is the flexibility it provides in terms of content creation, design, and functionality. Developers can choose the best tools for each component of the site, resulting in a more tailored and efficient website.


Frontend

The front-end of a headless site is responsible for displaying the content and providing the user interface. Since it is separate from the back-end, developers can choose the best technology stack for the job. This allows for greater flexibility and customization in design, resulting in a more unique and tailored website.


Headless CMS

A headless CMS is a content management system that only manages the back-end content, leaving the front-end presentation to be handled by a separate system. This allows for greater flexibility in design and faster load times, since the front-end does not need to communicate with the CMS for every request.


API

The API in a headless architecture is responsible for serving the content to the front-end. It acts as a bridge between the CMS and the front-end, allowing for greater flexibility in design and development.


Hosting

Hosting in a headless architecture refers to the server or cloud platform where the website is deployed and made accessible to users. Since the front-end and back-end are decoupled, the hosting environment can be optimized for each layer of the website separately, resulting in faster load times and better performance.


How to start building a headless website


Here are some steps to start building a headless website:

  1. Plan your architecture: Decide what kind of website you want to build, what features and functionalities it should have, and what content management system (CMS) you want to use. Popular headless CMS options include Easyweb, Contentful, Strapi, and Sanity.
  2. Choose a front-end framework: In a headless approach, the front-end is decoupled from the back-end, meaning you’ll need a front-end framework that can consume content from the CMS through APIs. Some popular options include React, Angular, and Vue.js.
  3. Set up your APIs: APIs are the key component in a headless website. You will need to set up your CMS to expose the content through APIs, then consume those APIs from your front-end application. This requires some knowledge of both the CMS and the front-end framework you’ve chosen.
  4. Create your website: With your architecture, front-end, and APIs set up, you can start building your website. You’ll need to use the front-end framework to create the pages and components, and fetch the content from the API to populate them with data.
  5. Deploy your website: Once your website is complete, you can deploy it to your hosting provider of choice. Some popular options for headless deployments include Netlify, Vercel and Easyweb.

Overall, building a headless website requires a bit of upfront planning and configuration, but it can be a powerful and flexible approach to building modern websites.


To start with Easyweb

With Easyweb, you can easily connect your services and unlock a much faster development process.

Unlike traditional frontend development solutions, Easyweb offers the best of both worlds - easy customization and low-code efficiency. You can reduce development time and costs while still maintaining the same level of code ownership and customization. Thanks to its customizable frontend components and out-of-the-box integrations, Easyweb is an ideal solution for all levels of technical expertise.

Easyweb offers value throughout the entire lifecycle of your headless project, from design and development to global scaling. Interested in using a headless website builder for your business website? Create a free developer account or contact our sales team to learn more about how Easyweb can help you fast-track your headless web development project.


Full disclaimer: The author of this article is affiliated with Easyweb, a Headless CMS built for business websites. 

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