Blog over headless development vanuit een developers perspectief


Working with Headless CMS’s like Contentful, Storyblok and DatoCMS as a developer.

08 augustus 2022

Working with a headless CMS like Contentful, Storyblok and DatoCMS does not only have advantages for marketers who put content online. They also have pro’s for developers who work with them, from a technical standpoint. Not only is the technology scalable, you can also use it with any programming language. Are you not familiar yet with Headless CMS and Headless Commerce? Then first read our blogs What is Headless Commerce and Benefits Headless Commerce to learn all about Headless. Curious about the benefits of working with these CMS’s from a developer perspective? Then read all about it here.

Optimized development process

Headless CMS’s work with content models. These give developers the opportunity to work easily with product owners, designers and marketers to optimize the website. You build pages using the content blocks, custom code and the necessary integrations. Before you start building there is a lot of consultation, so the customer knows exactly what to expect. It also saves a lot of work afterwards by immediately connecting all involved parties. 

A content model is free to build, this gives us the flexibility to tune it to the needs of the customer. The content on a homepage, detail page or contact page can differ in type and design (depending on the project). Each content block on a page can be given restrictions. This way you create templates that (often the) marketers use to add content to the site. As a developer you are flexible in the possibilities to the end user per content block, while protecting the design through the restrictions that you can give them.

When you work with Headless, you work with APIs. These are often well built and stable. In addition, you are not dependent on a backend team during development. The frontenders therefore have the freedom to develop new features and components. For developers it is important that APIs are well documented, so you know what to expect and you can adapt your code to it. This gives some security to developers and the customer.

Blog over headless development vanuit een developers perspectief
Maarten Jongerius is Lead Developer bij Touchtribe

Maarten Jongerius

Head of Development Touchtribe


Scalable coding and integration

One of the advantages of working with a Headless CMS is the scalability of the platform, through the reuse of content blocks. This is not only an advantage for customers, but also for developers. By reusing and linking content blocks you spend less time on coding, because you simply reuse the code. You can therefore create a product way faster and once you have coded a content block it is endlessly scalable. Now you have more time for doing other things, such as focusing on performance and animations. 

A second advantage of working with headless is that you can easily switch from one integration to another. You can attach custom code to the existing content blocks, when a client needs more customization. All content blocks and components can be custom made. Headless CMS's work with API's, these are easy to integrate with the code. Once you know how this works the basics are the same for every Headless CMS.

One CMS for every device

As a developer your goal is to build a user friendly product with as little code as possible. Headless CMS's are designed in a way that we build components that ensure that the content from the CMS is displayed properly on various devices, both mobile and web. You can link a separate mobile frontend to your CMS, so your website always looks good. This gives you less struggle with the responsiveness of your pages, because you only have to change the code once for each content block. This way, you can have each content block appear in different ways on pages. In a non-headless CMS you manage both content and design, with Healess only the content.

Also, for clients who have multiple platforms (websites), the code can be reused. Developers only have to make the adjustments in one codebase, while the customer sees it right away on all platforms. Another strong advantage for a developer is that by using previews you can easily show these changes to the customer for approval before going live.

Bij headless werk je met een CMS maar is de content zichtbaar op meerdere devices

Connecting custom plugins 

Headless CMSs are becoming more advanced and they give developers the freedom to develop plugins that can extend the functionality of the platform. Because working with headless CMS's is becoming increasingly popular, more and more plugins are becoming available. Like integrations with e-commerce platforms Bigcommerce and Shopify. You don't have to build everything from scratch, but have the possibility to start with a basis. Then you can customize this base to the needs of the customer, giving you endless possibilities by adding custom code.

In some cases we also build plugins for other CMS's when our customers need them. In this way we help them expand the toolset with which they can optimize their website. Recently, for example, we used a plugin to integrate the CMS with the customer's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. This enables them to manage the most important parts of their website themselves.

Switching between Headless CMS’s 

Not only the client, but also as the developer can easily switch between different Headless CMSs like Contentful, DatoCMS and Storyblok. Transferring the code takes little time, because the operation of these CMS’s and plugins is very similar. This means you spend less time on integration as a developer and more time building and optimizing extra features.  

Why switch CMS's? Sometimes the customer or developers run into a limit of features or capacity. From the customer's point of view, costs are often a major motivation to make a switch. Our developers have a preference for the above three CMS's because they have stable interfaces and all the necessary plugins and features that our customers need. The possibilities are endless, so you (almost) never have to say no to a customer.

ons team werkt met headless cms'en

Curious about working with a Headless CMS?

Our developers work mainly with Contentful, DatoCMS and Storyblok in combination with e-commerce solutions Bigcommerce and Shopify. This allows them to specialize in these systems and use them to build everything our clients need. We also provide a Way of Work for each project. This way not only our customers, but also all our colleagues know everything about how we work!

Are you curious what it's like to work with Headless CMS’s? Or do you already have experience? We are looking for enthusiastic colleagues to make our Way of Work even better and to build the best products for customers like Dorstlust, Timemoto and Unbrick. Check out our career page for more information. 

Maarten Jongerius is Lead Developer bij Touchtribe

Maarten Jongerius

Head of Development Touchtribe