A decoupled CMS is a content management system architecture where the backend and frontend systems are separated, or decoupled. In other words, there is one system for the backend content creation and storage layer (or “body”), and another, separate system for the frontend content delivery layer/presentation layer (or “head”). APIs (application programming interfaces) then connect these two elements to deliver and present the content, where it can appear across various specified devices and channels.
In a traditional content management system, like WordPress, the frontend and backend components are intertwined (or “coupled”). In either a headless or decoupled CMS architecture, these elements are separated from each other, and the content is delivered via APIs or a web service. However, in a decoupled CMS, a frontend component exists, whereas in a headless CMS, there is no frontend component or presentation element.
There are pros and cons to each of these CMS solutions, so choosing the right one all depends on your business needs and resources. For example, building a decoupled system typically requires more frontend developer work than a headless system. However, if site redesigns or upgrades are necessary in a decoupled CMS, content editors can continue simultaneously producing work as those upgrades occur due to the separation of the content creation layer and presentation layer. Though headless and decoupled content management systems can be more flexible and scalable for businesses, they can also come with more costs than a traditional CMS build.