How to Choose a Jamstack-Ready CMS

Gone are the days when the only goal of a content management system was to simply help manage the content for a website.

Now there has been an influx of new content channels where customers are hoping to receive the same high-quality content experiences no matter the channel where they choose to engage with a brand. Unsurprisingly, organizations are turning towards the latest trends in web development to help them facilitate these omnichannel experiences.

One such trend is the rise of the headless CMS, which connects a backend content repository to multiple frontends and digital channels via APIs. A headless CMS on its own isn’t enough for enterprises hoping to embrace digital transformation, but it can be combined with other web development trends to yield terrific results.

Another web development trend that combines well with a headless CMS is known as Jamstack, which has been called by some, the cornerstone of modern web development.

In this post, we’ll dive into the factors to consider in choosing a Jamstack-ready CMS for your company:

  • A review of Jamstack
  • How to choose a Jamstack-ready CMS
  • The developer skill sets of your IT department
  • Ensuring the CMS meets all of your business needs
  • The headless requirements for your CMS
  • Analyzing the capability for DevOps and team collaboration
  • Going beyond just static sites

But first...

What is Jamstack? 

Jamstack was created by Mathias Billmann, Netlify co-founder, as a modern web development architecture.

It is an acronym that refers to client-side JavaScript, reusable APIs and prebuilt Markup. The Jamstack architecture is a method for building web apps with faster performance, increased scalability and security.

The Jamstack architecture helps to build lightning-fast websites, and it is well known in the developer community. But to fully embrace it, organizations need a Jamstack-ready CMS.


The Benefits of Jamstack

When it comes to discussing Jamstack with a tech-savvy audience, everything seems great and easy, but when the moment to discuss the benefits with the client comes, things get a bit tougher.

While you can simply say that the Jamstack approach reduces development time and maintenance costs, it’s always better to elaborate the benefits.

Speed

Page load speed is an important ranking factor and the faster your website loads, the better it will rank. Jamstack-ready websites are fast because they primarily deliver cached, static content.

Security

With Jamstack, the attack vector surface for cyber is very small as there are no databases exposed to hack. Only prerendered, static content is delivered by web servers and your CDN, minimizing the threat of cyber attacks.

Scalability

Jamstack helps you scale your site because you don’t have to worry about scaling and syncing backed databases and other infrastructure. To handle increases of traffic you just need to scale web servers and your CDN.


Choosing a Jamstack-Ready CMS

Now that you know why Jamstack and how it can help you, let’s jump right into how to choose a Jamstack-ready CMS.

Here are some things you need to take into consideration when choosing your JAMstack-ready CMS.

Developer Skill Sets

For any organization hoping to capitalize on Jamstack, then the first thing to check on is the capability of the IT department and the development team.

In Jamstack, the dynamic functionalities for building web applications are handled using JavaScript. With the wealth of libraries and frameworks available as part of the JavaScript language, developers need not worry about any restrictions and can use what they are comfortable with. JavaScript is one of the most popular languages when it comes to frontend development, so it’s likely that developers within your organization are already familiar with frameworks such as React, Vue and Angular.

Server-side functions get abstracted into reusable APIs that can then be accessed over HTTPS with JavaScript, and allowing them to be used by third-party applications and custom functions. Furthermore, content APIs are used to access website content that is authored and edited by business users, such as the marketing team for a public facing website.

Finally, Markup is pre-rendered before deployment using a Static Site Generator. Jamstack relies on static site generators like Gatsby, Jekyll and Hugo.

So launching and managing a website using a static site generator is another skillset that your developers will need to possess to get the most out of a Jamstack CMS. Once you have that, then the next step is taking a look at the headless capabilities of a CMS as Jamstack is ineffective without them.

Headless, API-First CMS

One of the main drivers behind the rise of Jamstack has been its ability to work in conjunction with a headless CMS. Unlike traditional CMS platforms where the backend and frontend are tightly coupled together, limiting developers to a strict set of front end experiences, a headless CMS has no frontend constraints.

Since Jamstack sites are pre-rendered using Markup from a static site generator, the site is not rendered at request time, meaning that content and data is not queried from a database dynamically.

Instead, a headless CMS is used to query and retrieve content by the static site generator to pre-render the entire site. This allows marketers and other content editors to create, edit and store content for use by the static site generation process. 

As a result, enterprises need a CMS platform they can rely on to manage and deliver this content, without restricting their content editors.

Marketer-Friendly Content Authoring Tools

Headless content storage and delivery capabilities are not enough when deciding on the best Jamstack CMS.

The reasoning behind this is that simple headless CMS platforms were created with developers in mind. They make it easy for developers to build and deliver apps for multiple channels. Unfortunately, the content editors who are responsible for creating and managing content suffer from the lack of user-friendly content authoring tools.

A simple headless CMS forces an overreliance on the IT department to make changes as many of them lack the marketer-friendly editing capabilities that traditional CMS platforms have to offer.

With the large and growing number of digital experiences to be delivered, marketers need the ability to easily author and preview content, to use drag-and-drop tools to build engaging experiences, and to review and publish content  without having to involve their IT department. The constant back and forth between two departments can cause new projects and campaigns to slow down tremendously as bottlenecks are created.

This doesn’t have to be the case, however.

The right CMS can alleviate many of these issues by providing marketers with the tools they need to create, edit, review, and publish content, all the while  also capitalizing on the benefits of Jamstack that are important to marketers.

For example, one of the primary benefits of a Jamstack website is that it loads quickly. Speed is a fundamental factor in a successful website as every additional 1-second delay can decrease customer satisfaction by 16%.

Load times have a significant impact on search engine rankings, a crucial factor for any marketer. Jamstack sites also benefit from decreased downtime, meaning that visitors are more likely to remain on the site and come back. Having excellent content management capabilities is essential for a Jamstack CMS.

Built for DevOps and Collaboration

As software development continues to evolve at a rapid pace, companies need to embrace new methodologies to streamline application development and delivery. This need for a streamlined approach to software development is what saw the swift adoption of DevOps.

DevOps has been successful in bringing together the operations and software development teams to facilitate faster building, testing and deployment of software.

It focuses on cross-functional collaboration and the automation of processes wherever possible. It also relies on the integration of other web development trends. Containerization and microservices are just some of the concepts meant to speed up previously slow processes.

However, DevOps alone doesn’t address for content managed software applications such as websites. There is a solution. With its support for DevContentOps processes, CrafterCMS manages to link to content teams, operations teams and developers, creating a means of managing digital experiences without disrupting workflows.

Extensible Content APIs

When building Jamstack sites and apps, developers use the content APIs of the headless CMS to query and retrieve content stored in the CMS. And any headless CMS will provide content APIs that map to the content types configured. However, these fixed set of content APIs are often limiting. Many times you want to shape the content API response, and to build custom APIs that can be queried either during static site generation, or dynamically at runtime from the client application. 

As a result, it's important to consider a headless CMS that has extensible content APIs on the backend, to ensure flexibility for a variety of developer use cases. CrafterCMS supports extensible content APIs and custom API development via Groovy scripting. It also supports server-side rendering for those times when dynamic backend functionality is required, again either during static site generation, or dynamically at runtime from the client application.

Learn more: Server Side Rendering - The Missing Component of Headless CMS


CrafterCMS - Ready for Jamstack and More

CrafterCMS is a headless CMS for enterprises that want to get the most out of Jamstack.

As an API-first headless CMS, Crafter provides the content APIs for building Jamstack sites and apps. Developers can connect to CrafterCMS to query and retrieve content using whatever static site generator they choose. Moreover, CrafterCMS supports extensible content APIs, custom API development, and server-side development.

With its Git-based content repository, CrafterCMS streamlines both developer and content management workflows, enabling team collaboration and highly productive DevContentOps processes. Crafter also provides powerful and user-friendly content authoring tools for marketers and other content editors, to create, build, edit, preview and publish engaging content experiences.

Moreover, as an enterprise-grade headless CMS, Crafter is suited not just for Jamstack sites and apps, but for any type of digital experience, including dynamic and personalized global websites, OTT video, e-commerce, AR/VR experiences, employee intranets, customer portals, and many more.

Jamstack is just one of many various types of content-driven digital experience use cases that CrafterCMS supports. Many enterprises use CrafterCMS to power a wide range of digital channels. For example, Marriott International leverages CrafterCMS to power their .com website, their global intranet, digital signage, and live streaming of events. To learn more, read the Case Study - Marriott International: Taking Hospitality to the Next Level with CrafterCMS.

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Posted by Sarah Weber

Sarah Weber is a curious and driven digital marketer with a diverse background working on digital teams within technology, medical, agencies, and consumer packaged goods. Sarah Weber graduated from Messiah College with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. In her free time, Sarah can be found spending time with friends and her dog, hiking in Shenandoah, or sewing up a new pattern.

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