Bernard Jan Boekholt
CXO @ Prepr
Read time: 5 min

Is a Headless CMS better than Joomla?

Headless CMS

Joomla is one of the world's most popular open-source content management systems. But does it live up to today’s standards? Here’s why a headless CMS trumps Joomla, especially when you care about security and creativity.

What is Joomla?

Joomla is an open-source content management system (CMS). Joomla is used by 2.4% of all the websites whose content management system we know. Like other traditional content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla is designed to build, organize, manage, and publish content on the web. Joomla includes an intuitive content editor that makes it easy for you to edit content and publish it on the web. Thanks to its simplicity, Joomla has captured a massive following leading to more than 100 million downloads to date.

Joomla Pros & Cons

👍 User-friendly

👍 Ideal for building websites     

👍 Advanced community and documentation

👍 Open source and (partially) free to use

👎 Generic look and feel

👎 Prone to security breaches

We’ll zoom in on the details below.

What is a Headless CMS?

Aside from traditional CMSs such as Joomla, you can also decide on using a headless CMS. A headless CMS is a backend-only solution that disconnects the presentation layer of a website from its backend (the editing environment and its database). A headless CMS makes digital content available on all possible platforms using an Application Programming Interface, an API. When a visitor lands on a website or opens a mobile app, the content automatically adapts to its publishing environment and presents itself optima forma.

Headless Pros & Cons

👍 Scalable, ideal for omnichannel platforms

👍 Secure & Reliable

👍 Versatile, no technical limitations

👍 Unique look and feel

👎 Requires more development

Comparing headless to Joomla

Both Joomla and a headless CMS can be used to build websites and applications. But how do you know which solution is best for your organization? While in terms of budget and development experience, Joomla would seem best at first glance (it’s a free and open-source solution that requires limited development resources), there are two reasons why we believe a headless CMS is the wiser choice. This has everything to do with creativity and security. Here's why.

A headless CMS allows for more creativity

When designing a website for your business, you want it to align with your brand guidelines and unique look and feel. Joomla allows you to select one or more templates from its template directory. There are thousands of high-quality templates available, some of which are free. Many templates provide a graphical user interface that allows you to change colors, fonts, layouts, and features easily. It’s also possible to combine more than one template on your website. With this, you can have pages with different designs on one platform. The biggest downside of templates is that you’re not the only company using them. Joomla powers over 3% of all websites on the internet, so your website is likely built with a widespread template, creating a generic look and feel. Using a custom design ensures that your website is different from the lot.

This is where headless CMSs come in. 

A headless CMS doesn’t include a frontend, meaning you can design the presentation layer of your website from scratch. A designer will create a unique-looking digital platform, and a frontend developer will turn the design into a fully functional frontend, whether it’s your website or a mobile application. The benefit of this approach is that you can create a consistent and unique customer experience on every touchpoint, fully aligned with your brand guidelines. So, when comparing the creativity aspect of both Joomla and a headless CMS, a headless CMS offer you more creative freedom. This contributes to creating a unique and outstanding customer experience.

A headless CMS is more secure

Comparing the security of both Joomla and a headless CMS, we must briefly zoom in on the technical details. Joomla is so-called traditional CMS that connects the frontend of a website to its backend. The CMS's graphical user interface allows users to create and publish pre-defined styled templates. The content is then stored within the database and displayed to web visitors when they land on a specific page or platform. This setup shows how the frontend and backend are connected but also illustrates why a traditional CMS is prone to security breaches.

Most hackers try to access a website's database to steal sensitive data such as personal information from visitors or payment details. As mentioned above, the frontend and backend of a headless CMS are decoupled. Content is delivered through a content distribution network (CDN), and an API publishes read-only content to the frontend. There is no direct communication between the frontend of a website and its backend, making a headless less susceptible to hacking. 

The verdict

We believe creativity and security are crucial factors when looking for a new CMS. Even though a headless CMS requires more development resources, it’s worth the time and effort. On the one hand, it helps you deliver more consistent and unique customer experiences. On the other hand, it helps you protect your visitor’s data from hackers. Where do you stand on this?