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Defining a Path to a Headless Architecture

Headless architecture is that new shiny object that everyone is talking about, and you want it. On the surface it just makes sense to move to a headless, API-driven architecture that allows you to have a more consistent and streamlined omnichannel customer experience. The value to your business seems logical, but are you ready? After all, it is a significant investment, and I’m not just talking about the technology investments. Moving to headless has a significant impact on your people and your processes it is truly a digital transformation.

First things first, going headless is not an implementation, it’s a journey.  It's also not isolated to your website(s). Successfully moving to headless requires changes to multiple systems, buy-in from your people, and alignment of your processes to ensure that you're able to deliver content across channels. Here is a checklist of what you might need to consider:

  • Do you have a well-defined content strategy?
  • Do you have the right technology in place to serve up that content?
  • Do you have the actual content needed?
  • Do you have a defined omni-channel customer strategy?
  • Do you have a governance model for your content (or at least a plan for how you will do that)?
  • Are you using workflows? and is your use mature enough to handle what you're about to take on?

The answers to these questions will help determine if you're business is ready to move into a headless environment. If you can check each of these items off your list, you're in a good place to start your journey to headless.

As you begin to work through this checklist, it’s crucial to understand the value of each item to give it thorough consideration. Let's break down each of these checklist items to show why they are important.


Content Strategy

What content you want to create and where you need to showcase it to customers is critically important to succeed in a headless approach, which is also why its listed first. Going headless is centered around delivering content and if you are not sure what you want to show to customers, you will likely hit early roadblocks before you get to see results from your efforts. You probably have some content and an idea of where that content goes but take a step back. What are you showing to users at different stages in their journey and what consistencies are you trying to create? Where are you going to get re-use and efficiency in your content?  The goal is to reate content once and distribute multiple times.


The Right Technology

Choosing the right technology might seem obvious or even out of place. You certainly need technology that will support an API-driven approach, but it’s important that you don’t overlook what works best for your internal systems and processes as well. When you think about going headless and getting the right technology in place, also think about the tools and systems that can support your internal processes and facilitate the creation, management, and distribution of content across multiple channels. Content as a Service (CaaS) providers or modern composable tech stacks like Sitecore or Adobe will all enable your business to move forward with a content first approach.



One of the most common reasons any digital initiative comes to halt or show lackluster long-term results is a lack of content. You need to ensure that you have a team in place that can support content creation to distribute across channels. This team will need to fully integrate into your processes so it can deliver.


Omnichannel Strategy

Are you thinking about your holistic customer experience across every channel? Regardless of how they interact with your brand, customers expect consistency. If you're not speaking to them the same way in every channel, you're missing out. Beyond that, if you are silo'd internally by channel, your headless approach will fail.  In that sense, when done right, headless is the equivalent to an omnichannel approach and your strategy needs to lead that way.



A great strategy and some cool content are awesome, but if you don't manage it well, it won't last. To determine who is responsible for each stage, think about the approvals and possibly compliance reviews that will need to be layered on top of content creation and distribution. All of those steps require time, planning, and a lot of coordination for a solid governance model to pay dividends in the long run.



How your team works together is part technology and part governance. Your workflows connect your people and processes, allowing your teams to run efficiently and enabling productivity rather than becoming a roadblock to progress. Configuring your workflows to act as an extension for your teams will ultimately make your journey to headless more successful.



That’s a long list, and it's not a quick and easy checklist, so if you're starting your journey from scratch, all is not lost. Switching to headless is a marathon and not a sprint after all. Making a transition like this can be overwhelming and that is where we can help. Merkle has a long history of helping clients define and plan their content strategy, and we have experts in Sitecore and Adobe. Our content production teams can also help any organization get what they need.


Connect with one of our experts and let us help you on your path to headless.