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Headless CMS

Ali Azhar
Last Updated October 6, 2021 2:51 am

A headless content management system (CMS) is a type of back-end content management system that makes the content accessible through an application programming interface (API). Users load, edit, manipulate and content delivered from the headless system across different devices without needing a built-in front-end presentation layer. The “headless” term comes from being able to separate the “head,” or the front-end presentation layer, from the body. 

Headless CMS vs. traditional CMS

There are several differences between headless and traditional CMSes. The development mindset with a traditional CMS is project-focused, compared to a product-focused mindset with headless CMSes. Generally, the headless system’s hosting and delivery are done through the cloud compared to in-house hosting for the traditional CMS. Updates are continuous with a microservice backend system. A traditional CMS has scheduled updates with a monolithic back-end system. If the headless variant is hosted on a local server, the user will have to manage the scaling and operations themselves.

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How does a headless CMS work?

Users access the CMS through an interface for content management. Most headless content management systems are offered through a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, where users log in to a web-based application to use the CMS. 

How do businesses benefit from headless CMSes?

There are several benefits for a business choosing headless sytems over a traditional CMS. Users have more freedom to choose content models, services, and their technology stack . Marketers get more flexibility while developers get to create more engaging experiences with headless content management systems. Integrations with existing systems and constant updates to the tech stack that powers the CMS make the upfront investment of time and resources worthwhile for most businesses. Another key benefit for a business is that content can be reused content across websites, devices, and channels. Without a headless content management system, the business will have to use multiple parallel content management systems to support different digital channels. 

With lesser resources required to manage the headless content management system, businesses can enjoy a more cost-effective method to create, manage, and edit content. Lastly, a traditional CMS is more time-consuming and distracting for a business, whereas a headless CMSes allows a business to use more resources toward business goals.  

Examples of headless CMS platforms

Headless CMSes have become essential to businesses that need to deliver content across multiple platforms. Here are 3 examples of headless CMS. 

Sanity.io:  Offers unparalleled flexibility through a React and JavaScript-based editing environment. It also offers rich data model capabilities and easily integrates with APIs. 

Directus: Supports users with customized databases. Directus also offers open-source software, and an easy-to-use interface that requires little training for most users. 

Prismic: Prismic users choose languages, frameworks, and other key technologies based on the requirements of the application. Prismic also offers native integration with major e-commerce platforms such as Magento and Shopify.