How to Build a Modern Front-end for Your Headless CMS

This was originally posted as a guest blog post on e-Spirit’s blog.

There are multiple reasons why organizations are going headless, including the ability to move faster, adopt new touchpoints more easily, and seamlessly blend commerce and content. No matter the driving factor, you’re in good company if you’re thinking headless.

But HOW do you actually go about it? Well a headless or hybrid CMS (headless+) is an important piece of the puzzle, it still requires a “head” – in other words, a decoupled front-end that’s independent of both the content and commerce system.

In this blog post we’ll help you determine the best way to build a “head” by digging into both the short-term and long-term considerations.

Short-term: Decouple the front-end – completely

It may sound obvious that the front-end should be completely decoupled, but often in the pursuit of a headless approach, external pressures come into play and result in another coupled architecture.

Even the most elegantly architected projects are subject to external pressures, not least of all time. Ensuring your custom front-end is truly decoupled from your backend typically takes more time and more code in the initial build, and for expediency’s sake, shortcuts are taken.

In the short-term this is often a simple fix, but it breaks the modular pattern by using some internal aspect of a module. This is usually done with the idea of fixing this in the next release, but then further time pressures mount and more functionality is needed and so on. This is how elegant modular architectures can slowly evolve into highly interdependent monoliths. If the UX code is reliant on commerce details specific to a vendor, then that modular aspect is lost and you have a tightly coupled project.

If you’re building a front-end with open source tools or from scratch, you should try to push back on any time pressures throughout the project to ensure you don’t end up with another coupled architecture.

The alternative is to leverage a modern front-end platform like Mobify that has an integration architecture built-in to ensure your front-end is completely decoupled. This set-up ensures that the front-end is completely decoupled and you only have to update a single point of integration if you ever decide to make any backend changes.

Not only does this approach eliminate the decoupling concerns upfront, it also handles long-term stability and supportability concerns.

Long-term: Ensure front-end stability

When building a front-end for your hybrid / headless CMS, you need to consider long-term stability. By decoupling your front-end from a stack platform, you lose the predictability of the front-end layer because that platform is no longer hosting and rendering the customer experience.

For example, say your front-end experience was built in a traditional web CMS or DXP. If you move to a headless approach, then a new decoupled front-end would call on APIs to access any functionality that you need from your content or commerce system. This means the CMS / DXP is no longer hosting, monitoring, securing or scaling your front-end.

Building a front-end on your own puts that onus and responsibility on your team, while a modern, all-in-one front-end platform like Mobify would host, monitor, secure and scale your front-end. It provides a stable, predictable layer that you can trust without having to throw a bunch of resources at it.

The Mobify front-end platform

Focus on CX

Building a front-end for your hybrid / headless CMS really comes down to a build vs. buy decision. Leveraging a modern front-end platform like Mobify will ensure your front-end is truly decoupled and eliminate any stability concerns. Rather than focusing on things like scalability and security, which are the same across every retailer, your team can spend their time on projects that enhance the customer experience.

For a more detailed breakdown on how to build a front-end for headless, check out the Enterprise Guide to Headless Commerce Front-ends.

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