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Selecting the Right CMS Platform for Your Business: Understanding the Benefits of Coupled, Decoupled and Headless CMS Solutions

Decoupled CMS Architecture—Ideal for Publishers Needing to Deliver a Variety of Content to Many Devices and/or Channels

Compared to a coupled CMS, decoupled CMS architecture separates—or decouples—the back-end and front-end management of a website into two different systems: one for content creation and storage, and another for content delivery and presentation. In a decoupled CMS, these two systems are housed separately. Once content is created and edited in the back-end, this type of architecture takes advantage of flexible and fast web services and API’s to deliver the raw content to any front-end design on any device or channel, anywhere.

From a technical standpoint, a decoupled CMS consists of a content management back-end where content is created, a database where content and digital assets are stored (on the back-end), an API that connects the content management back-end with the front-end and a default content publishing front-end.

Even though the back-end and front-end function independently of one another, the front-end architecture is predetermined with a specified delivery environment (for example, React or React Native).  As a result, the two systems are tightly linked and can function as one.

Decoupled CMS offers several benefits, including faster and more flexible content delivery than with a coupled CMS, the ability to do rapid design iterations and enhanced security.  In addition, this type of CMS architecture has less publisher and developer dependencies, resiliency in the face of changes on the user interface (since deployments to the front-end are independent of back-end deployments, which prevents design and user interface changes from interrupting publisher workflows), a simple deployment because there is no single point of failure (a change to the front-end is unable to cause an issue at the database or back-end layer) ,and easy third-party integrations that are less disruptive to development. 

Worth keeping in mind, though, is that a decoupled CMS is more complicated than a coupled CMS.  A technical team will need to have a reliable mechanism to deploy updates to the back-end and front-end independently which helps with continuous delivery of improvements but may open the possibility for the two systems to become out of sync which may result in issues with delivering content.   

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