Headless CMS, also known as a decoupled content management system, is an increasingly popular term in the digital content sphere. If you’re a developer, this term might be a familiar one. However, if you’re new to the topic or struggling to understand it, this article aims to shed light on Headless CMS through a simple explanation, discussing various use cases, and providing 10 notable examples.

A Brief Overview of Headless CMS

A headless CMS, in its simplest form, is a system providing a backend for managing digital content. This essentially means that it separates a site’s content from its presentation. This architecture offers numerous advantages, such as:

  1. Simplified management from a single point.
  2. Customizable user experiences.
  3. Accessibility from anywhere, at any time.
  4. Greater control and freedom for developers.

Among the various headless CMS options available today, the following 10 are worth mentioning: Sylius, Strapi, Prismic, Sanity, Storyblok, Directus, Magnolia, Contentful, Cockpit, and Bloomreach.

Delving Deeper into Headless CMS

The power of a headless CMS lies in its capacity to enable developers, publishers, and marketers to create, edit, and publish digital content without being confined by how it appears on web pages and apps. This CMS type can store data as structured content, allowing more flexibility when retrieving and displaying information.

Due to its decoupled architecture, it functions as an API-based delivery system. Users can access published content in any format, on any device. It also allows developers to use any programming language when constructing a front-end application or user interface. This grants them more control over their content’s appearance, thereby accelerating the delivery of digital experiences.

For visual learners, here’s a quick video explaining Headless CMS:

Contrasting a Traditional CMS with a Headless CMS

A content management system (CMS) is a software application used for managing the creation, publishing, and curation of digital content. It facilitates the organization, storage, and visualization of data in a user-friendly interface. A headless CMS shares this content creation and storage functionality.

However, a headless CMS differs from a traditional CMS by not offering any display or visual design capabilities. Instead, users interact with the data through straightforward APIs. These headless systems are generally easier to integrate with third-party services and provide developers more control over data display and consumption.

In essence, while a CMS offers a platform to manage digital content visually, a headless CMS allows behind-the-scenes management of that content solely via APIs.

The Advantages of Using a Headless CMS

Choosing a headless CMS over a traditional CMS brings several benefits:

  1. It permits the use of an existing web front-end while detaching the backend. This means content can be managed from one location and distributed across multiple channels, thus enabling a personalized, audience-tailored experience.
  2. As a cloud-based solution, it is accessible at all times from any location. This allows businesses to deploy new features and make swift changes, thereby maintaining their competitive edge in the digital landscape.
  3. It offers full control over the entire development process and project structure, granting organizations more freedom in crafting digital experiences without concerns about vendor lock-in or security issues.

In a nutshell, these benefits can lead to cost savings and improved efficiency in an organization’s digital strategy.

Applications of Headless CMS

As a type of web content management system, a headless CMS is favored by developers tasked with creating content for websites or digital experiences without a traditional GUI. It is an excellent fit for digital businesses looking to build custom apps, websites, and portfolios for their clients.

Using a headless CMS can significantly enhance user experience, as content can be managed from one location and served in various formats, such as HTML, JSON, XML, or RSS feeds. Real-time content updates are possible, a feature particularly advantageous for web developers who require dynamic websites with constantly updated content.

Furthermore, headless CMSs allow IT teams to integrate with other software, like CRMs, enabling the use of customer data collected by the system to produce more targeted and personalized content.

Top 10 Best Headless CMS Systems

In the vast landscape of Headless Content Management Systems (CMS), several platforms stand out due to their user-friendly features, flexibility, and overall performance. Here’s a list of the top 10 headless CMSs that are currently making waves in the market.

1. Sylius

Sylius is a headless CMS designed specifically to assist businesses in building efficient e-commerce platforms. Its powerful and user-friendly interface simplifies the management of products, customers, orders, and more. Developers are given the freedom to customize their websites according to their specific needs.

The layout of the Sylius Headless CMS is clean and intuitive, enabling users to quickly adapt to the system’s features and capabilities. With a comprehensive dashboard, detailed feature descriptions, and flexible customization options coupled with extensive support resources, Sylius enables the creation of online stores without necessitating in-depth technical knowledge or programming skills.


2. Strapi

Strapi is an open-source headless CMS that requires no programming code and is compatible with Jamstack sites. Ideal for first-time projects that don’t necessitate too much technical expertise, Strapi is a versatile platform suitable for websites or mobile applications.

This platform comes equipped with a range of tools compatible with all frontend frameworks. Its API ensures swift, flexible, and efficient operation while maintaining security.


3. Prismic

Prismic is a headless CMS renowned for its user-friendly interface and functional versatility. Its intuitive editor simplifies content management and offers an array of features for customizing sites according to specific requirements.

Its visually pleasing interfaces and various features – including image and video upload, multiple language support, custom fields, dynamic routing, rich media embeds, responsive design tools, and more – make the Prismic headless CMS impressively diverse in its capabilities. Furthermore, Prismic’s API facilitates the integration of other solutions or the building of an entire stack from scratch. This CMS also provides in-built analytics tools to monitor site performance.


4. Sanity

Sanity is a headless CMS known for its intuitive nature, enabling users to access, manage, and deliver content more efficiently. It allows developers to swiftly design and construct websites and apps.

Sanity provides an easy-to-navigate user interface that simplifies the creation of complex content structures and accommodates text or multimedia content. It also features an uncomplicated API, giving developers numerous options to customize website designs with minimum effort.

Additional tools, such as drag-and-drop functions and an online editor, expedite efficient content creation. This CMS’s layout is designed for simplicity, helping even novice users to quickly learn how to use the platform without requiring complicated tutorials or guides.


5. Storyblok

Storyblok is a headless CMS offering an accessible platform for content creation and management. Its design, which prioritizes user experience, is simple and straightforward. Users are granted unlimited customization options, allowing them to design their own content delivery system without any coding.

Storyblok also offers real-time analytics tracking, empowering users to monitor their content’s performance and make necessary adjustments.


6. Directus

Directus is an open-source headless CMS providing a comprehensive and customizable solution for creating and managing intricate digital content. It allows users to construct secure, dynamic websites, e-commerce stores, and applications, thanks to its potent API-oriented architecture.

Directus‘s interface is simple yet intuitive, boasting numerous helpful features such as user roles, access control lists (ACLs), data history logs, and easy customization options. Its open-source Admin App provides a streamlined visual interface for managing backend and customer-facing aspects without writing code.

Support is readily available 24/7 via email or chat to resolve any technical issues arising during implementation. Directus caters to both beginner web developers and seasoned professionals alike.


The above six are, in our opinion, the best headless CMS options currently available in the market. But since we promised you ten, here are the names of four additional headless CMSs that you might find intriguing for further research:

  • Magnolia
  • Happy
  • Cockpit
  • Bloomreach

FAQs about Headless CMS

Who needs a Headless CMS?

A Headless CMS is an ideal technological solution for businesses that require versatile content and data management across varied systems or devices. This type of CMS separates the backend data management from the frontend user interface (UI), enhancing adaptability.

Such a structure allows developers to craft personalized user experiences and tailor applications to different audiences. Entities like digital agencies, online stores, publishers, and any other businesses needing a dynamic CMS platform with cutting-edge technical abilities and scalability can greatly benefit from a Headless CMS.

Moreover, it grants businesses improved control over their content. They can customize their back-end architecture without worrying about potential impact on their websites’ performance.

How to choose the right Headless CMS?

The task of selecting the right Headless CMS for your project can be challenging. However, by diligently researching different options and verifying that they align with your needs, you can make an informed choice. Consider the following aspects:

  • Evaluate factors like scalability, price, security, and ease of use
  • Analyze the specific features each solution offers and how they integrate with your current platform
  • Peruse user reviews for a better understanding of the system’s reliability and any potential downsides
  • Verify the quality of the supplier’s customer service, who could provide support during technical issues or when assistance is needed.

After addressing these criteria, you should have a clear idea of which CMS is most suitable for you.

How does Headless CMS improve the digital user experience?

A Headless CMS enhances the digital user experience by decreasing development times, offering more flexible control over the content delivery process, and enabling organizations to swiftly adapt their applications based on user feedback.

Furthermore, it simplifies the integration of third-party services like analytics, marketing automation, or voice recognition platforms, leading to better comprehension of customer needs.

When strategically deployed, a Headless CMS can help cultivate a highly personalized user experience that bolsters engagement and promotes superior business results.

What are the main disadvantages of Headless CMS?

Despite its benefits, a Headless CMS does present some drawbacks.

Firstly, since the backend and frontend are detached, developing content APIs for frontend developers involves additional work.

Secondly, the absence of a unified user interface complicates content management for users.

Also, due to the intricacies involved in application setup, it may be necessary to engage specialized developers with a solid grasp of technical concepts like APIs and integration services. These professionals will be tasked with creating and maintaining a headless CMS system.

Finally, although a headless CMS provides more flexibility to craft custom experiences for different devices and platforms, it generally demands substantial development time.

For these reasons, headless CMS systems might not be the best fit for companies or developers seeking quick fixes or solutions that can be rapidly and effortlessly implemented.