When headless architecture first started trending in the content management space, the benefits were hailed as revolutionary; it separated the once tightly-coupled front-end and back-end and allowed APIs to make the connections instead. The results have allowed businesses to deliver content to not just websites but mobile devices, tablets, digital kiosks, and more.
However, one problem with the first versions of the headless CMS was that it was made by developers for developers.
Marketers were left out in the cold and could do little to nothing without asking their IT departments for help. While many vendors have taken tremendous steps to build hybrid headless CMS platforms that enable marketers to create, edit, preview, and deliver content for numerous channels, many are still lacking in one fundamental way — marketer-friendly documentation.
The Problem With Documentation
We know a headless CMS was originally created for developers by developers. But as we all know, they aren’t the only ones using it anymore. Headless CMSs and the next stage of their evolution, digital experience platforms (DXPs), are widely used by major enterprises worth billions of dollars.
At these companies, the traditional CMS platforms are being replaced by headless alternatives that allow organizations to meet the demands of today’s ever-changing customer experience. You know, the one where a customer goes through a hundred touchpoints across a website, social media platform, mobile app, and back again before they click to buy.
But there’s a problem. Even though a headless CMS can help marketers do these things, they don’t necessarily have the know-how, even today with the majority of vendors providing marketer-friendly features. Figuring out how to publish a blog post won’t be hard to do, but what about launching an Alexa skill, or publishing the latest marketing campaign to a digital kiosk or billboard sign in the city?
When developers need to figure out how to do something, they can usually turn to extensive documentation detailing where to find and how to do everything. It’s pretty easy to find this documentation too, just go to any headless CMS vendor and navigate to the resources section, and all of the documentation is readily available.
Marketers? Well, not so much luck. That documentation is very developer-focused, but the modern CMS needs both marketers and developers to know exactly what to do. Headless CMS documentation needs to be expanded to include instructions and walkthroughs for non-technical folks. This includes how to use the various no-code and low-code aspects of the platform as well.
And it should all be included in one place.
Why Headless CMS Documentation Needs An Upgrade
When you get a new product, your first step is to check the How to Guide so you can figure out where everything is. For a headless CMS, that guide is documentation. Here’s why documentation needs an upgrade:
Streamlined Buying Process
With so many departments using a CMS, the CTO or CFO aren’t the only ones involved in the purchasing process. CMOs and senior marketers are now heavily involved. By having all relevant documentation for the entire company located in one place, it's easier for teams to determine how they can work with the platform and discuss with technical team members where they might need to work together in the future.
Documentation Can Be a Sales Asset
Want to highlight just how easy-to-use your headless CMS or DXP can be? Product demos are important, but detailed documentation can also act as a sales asset that quickly explains everything that can be done using the platform.
A headless CMS can act as a content hub for businesses that use it to store all of their content and digital assets. It’s usually pretty easy to find everything you’re looking for too, but the same can’t be said for user documentation on how to use the CMS.
Many vendors do have training materials, walkthrough guides, and more, but they are scattered in different locations — blog articles, YouTube videos, or specialized training courses— forcing marketers to go searching for it or ask their developers if they run into a bit of trouble. Creating a central documentation hub with everything any CMS user will need no matter their role makes the onboarding process and day-to-day use much simpler.
When a product is easy to use, word spreads fast. Documentation is easily searchable, and it has a positive impact on SEO too. If the next time a marketer needs to find out how to do something in their current CMS and your platform is top of the list in the search results instead of a walkthrough video for only developers, it’s a great way to build brand awareness.
Easier on Developers
Often, content authors ask for help simply because they can’t easily find the answer after searching. Tasks like launching landing pages and microsites are definitely more manageable with a headless CMS, but not everything will be straightforward. More detailed documentation that includes marketers can save developers time, so they don’t have to explain how to do everything.
Customer Experiences Can Launch Faster
A headless CMS bridges the gap between businesses and their customers. It enables companies to deliver content to various devices, including smartwatches, speakers, and more. But content still needs to be created for these experiences, and they need both marketers and developers working in sync to pull off.
Many headless CMS platforms feature customized workflows that support fast launches for unconventional channels, but some slightly more complicated features still need illumination. Outlining when and where marketers should seek help can allow everyone to get things done more quickly to keep the customer experience intact.
Headless CMSs are evolving to give more freedom and ease of use to non-technical users; now, it’s time to level up the documentation to include them.