Headless CMS in Action: Gearing Up Coleman’s Mobile App to Support Any Channel

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A recent Brightspot implementation with the outdoor equipment company Coleman shows how going with a headless CMS architecture can help deliver a rich app experience in far less time than a traditional approach.

As a refresher, headless is a version of a content management system where the back end is decoupled from the front end. That means the CMS is responsible for storing and managing content on the back end, presenting only raw data for separate front-end systems to consume downstream. It's a way to get a lot more control over how and where you present your content.

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This solution was perfect for Coleman as the company set out to develop a native mobile app called Get Outdoors to help users plan camping trips quickly and easily. The company needed a powerful CMS that could aggregate everything users needed into one place. The Brightspot team created a back-end CMS and built two apps—one for iOS and one for Android—using the JavaScript framework React Native. As a result, one instance of content published to Brightspot will automatically publish on both versions of the app.

"Both apps are managed and published within Brightspot," says Minnie Kwag, a Brightspot software engineer who worked on the project. "We created the CMS for them to use as a platform and used a headless architecture, where we created an API that displayed the data from the CMS."

Using a separate front end helped slash the normal development time for such a project by a third, but that wasn't the only reason to go headless. Coleman now has the ability to support any channel with its robust outdoor content, which includes guides to state and national parks, how-to articles, gear guides and other camping resources.

"If Coleman later decided to build a microsite for Get Outdoors, or create content for the Apple Watch, it wouldn't be too difficult, because they have a headless implementation," Kwag says. "It's just a matter of creating those other APIs to ingest the data."

In the meantime, for the existing Coleman apps, the Brightspot team is working on new features, including an offline data capability that will enable users to download videos on how to make a campfire, or set up a tent, for example, and watch the videos even if their devices are out of range at the campsite.

Still have questions about headless CMS architecture? Check out our pros and cons article, watch our informative webinars or contact us.

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