Headless CMS - comprehensive overview of the best solutions and providers


A headless CMS is a content management system that is separate from the presentation layer. It allows developers to deliver content via APIs for greater flexibility and performance. In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about headless CMS, including the best solutions and vendors on the market, as well as a comparison to traditional CMS systems.


What is a headless CMS?


A headless CMS is a content management system that separates the content from the presentation layer. This allows developers to deliver content via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), regardless of the technology or platform used. This results in greater flexibility and performance compared to traditional CMS systems, which typically have a fixed presentation layer.


Advantages of a headless CMS


Some of the main advantages of a headless CMS are: 


  1. Flexibility : Because the content is separate from the presentation layer, developers can use whatever technologies and frameworks they want to build the front end.
  2. Performance : Thanks to the decoupling of frontend and backend, Headless CMS can efficiently deliver content, resulting in faster loading times and better web performance. This not only has a positive impact on the user experience, but also improves SEO.  
  3. Scalability : Headless CMSs allow for easier scaling as they can adapt to growing demands and traffic increases without having to change the entire architecture. This makes them an ideal solution for growing businesses and projects. 
  4. Security : As the backend and frontend are separated, it's more difficult for attackers to infiltrate a Headless CMS and compromise both content and data. By utilizing modern API authentication methods such as OAuth2 and JWT, security is further enhanced. 
  5. Advanced Personalization : Headless CMS enables advanced user experience personalization because developers have full control over the frontend. They can create individual experiences for different user groups based on factors like location, device type, interests, and behavior. 
  6. Easy Integration : Headless CMS typically use RESTful or GraphQL APIs, making integration with other systems and applications more straightforward. This allows businesses to seamlessly connect their existing technology infrastructure with the CMS, optimizing their workflows.  
  7. Efficient Content Management : Headless CMS ermöglichen es Content-Teams, Inhalte zentral zu verwalten und über verschiedene Plattformen und Geräte hinweg auszuliefern. Dies führt zu einer effizienteren Verwaltung und Aktualisierung von Inhalten und erleichtert die Arbeit von Redakteuren und Marketing-Teams.  
  8. ZFuture-Proofing : Headless CMS is not tied to specific technologies or platforms, making them adaptable to future requirements and technological changes. This makes them a sustainable solution capable of withstanding the test of time.  
  9. More Freedom for Developers : With Headless CMS, developers can use the technologies and frameworks of their choice without being restricted by the predefined structures and templates of a traditional CMS. This provides them with the flexibility to develop more creative and tailored solutions that better meet project requirements.


Headless CMS vs. Traditional CMS: Advantages and Disadvantages  


Headless CMSFlexibility, scalability, increased security, faster loading times.Higher costs, technical expertise required.
Traditional CMSEase of use, lower costs, integrated templates, and plugins.Less flexible, lower scalability, security risks.


Open-source headless CMS solutions. 

There are a number of open-source headless CMS solutions that can be used by developers and businesses. Some of the most well-known are: 

  1. Strapi
  2. Directus
  3. Netlify CMS
  4. Ghost

Headless CMS vs traditional CMS


In comparison to traditional CMS systems that have an integrated presentation layer, headless CMS solutions offer a range of advantages. Here are some of the key differences:  

  • Flexibility: Headless CMS allows developers to use their preferred technologies and frameworks for the frontend, while traditional CMS systems are typically restricted to specific technologies.
  • Performance: Since Headless CMS delivers content via APIs, it can be loaded more efficiently, resulting in a better user experience.
  • Scalability: Headless CMS can easily extend to various platforms and devices, while traditional CMS systems are usually limited to specific platforms.

Examples of Headless CMS


Some examples of companies and projects using headless CMS solutions include:  

  • Red Bull

    Red Bull uses Contentful as a headless CMS to manage content for their web, app, and social media presences. 
  • Airbnb

    Airbnb also utilizes Contentful to provide content for their website and apps. 
  • Nasa

    NASA uses Sanity.io to manage content for their educational and informational projects.  


Headless CMS and React  


React is a popular JavaScript library developed by Facebook and used for creating user interfaces. Headless CMS is an ideal complement for React applications as it allows developers to manage content independently of presentation. Some of the headless CMS solutions that work well with React include Contentful, Sanity.io, and Strapi.  

WordPress as Headless CMS  


WordPress is a widely used CMS originally developed for blogging purposes but is also used for other types of websites. By separating the backend and frontend, WordPress can also be used as a headless CMS. This allows developers to leverage the content management benefits of WordPress while enjoying the flexibility and performance of a headless CMS.  

Headless CMS for E-Commerce  


Headless CMS is also advantageous for e-commerce platforms as it provides the flexibility and performance required for modern online shops. Some of the headless CMS solutions that are particularly suitable for e-commerce include: 

Comparison of the top 4 headless CMS providers 


Open SourceNoNoYesYes
API-TypREST & GraphQLGraphQLREST & GraphQLREST & GraphQL

Headless CMS and Jamstack  


Jamstack is a modern web development architecture based on JavaScript, APIs, and Markup (hence the name "JAM"). Headless CMS is a natural complement to the Jamstack architecture as it separates content management from the presentation layer, providing greater flexibility and performance. Some of the headless CMS solutions that work well with Jamstack technologies like Gatsby, Next.js, and Nuxt.js are Contentful, Sanity.io, Strapi, and Netlify CMS.  

Headless CMS for various frontend frameworks  

Headless CMS can be used with various frontend frameworks and technologies, including:  

  • React: 
    As mentioned earlier, Contentful, Sanity.io, and Strapi work well for React applications. 
  • Vue.js: 
    For Vue.js developers, Directus, Netlify CMS, and Strapi are good options. 
  • Angular: 
    Contentful and Sanity.io are popular among Angular developers. 
  • Svelte: Strapi and Directus can be well integrated with Svelte frameworks.  

Costs of Headless CMS  

The costs for headless CMS solutions vary depending on the provider and the scope of the chosen plan. Open-source solutions like Strapi and Directus are free but may require investments in hosting and development. Cloud-based providers like Contentful and Sanity.io typically offer free starter plans with limited resources and enhance capabilities and features with paid plans. The exact costs depend on the requirements of your project and should be carefully assessed in advance.  


Headless CMS offers many advantages over traditional CMS systems, including greater flexibility, improved performance, and scalability. With a variety of solutions and providers on the market, it's important to choose the right option for your project.

We are happy to assist you in selecting the right system for your project.