What is the Best Headless CMS in 2021
Which is the Best Headless CMS in 2021?
Design a High-Performance Website with a Headless CMS
Design a High-Performance Website with a Headless CMS
Drive Sales by Integrating a Headless CMS to Your
eCommerce Site
Use a Headless CMS to Deliver Content to Multiple Platforms
Use a Headless CMS to Deliver Content to Multiple Platforms

Overview

What is a CMS?

A CMS, short for content management system, is a software application that allows users to build and manage a website without the need to code.

With a CMS, you can create, modify, and publish in a user-friendly interface. A CMS also allows you to customise the look and functionality of your website by downloading plugins, templates, and extensions instead of coding your desired features from scratch.

Popular CMS tools include

WordPress

Joomla

Magento

Shopify

What's Different About
a Headless CMS?

Think of it like this: In a traditional CMS, the front-end system of a website is considered the head
of the body. When you remove that head, you are left with a headless CMS. Thus, a headless CMS platform has no default front-end system to present the content to the end-user.

As opposed to a traditional CMS where we have a back-end for storing data and a front-end for displaying data, the headless CMS only has a back-end repository for all the data that can be published through different channels (e.g. a mobile app or website).

APPLICATIONS

Use Cases of a
Headless CMS in 2021

01

Control static content inside web and mobile apps (e.g. banners, promotions, new stories, articles, and legals)

02

eCommerce sites requiring more content or workflow flexibility due to scaling up

03

Managing content across multiple platforms (e.g. mobile and web) and distributing to multiple channels

04

Improve security by placing your
CMS behind a firewall and use a
Jamstack-based front-end

05

Managing multiple websites, saving time on administration and maintenance tasks

06

Used in conjunction with static site generator to vastly increase performance

07

Content creators who need to create a content hub or a centralized repository for all content types

08

Developing a front-end for your website using modern JavaScript frameworks such as Angular, React, or Vue

Get Started

Different Types of a
Headless Content Management System

Content as a Service (Caas) Headless CMS

Open-Source Headless CMS

SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: RESTful API, customisable interface
Best for: Developers, content creators
Known Integrations: Laravel, Symfony
www.contentful.com
Freemium
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: 2FA, log data retention
Best for: Developers, content creators
Known Integrations: Shopify, Gatsby, Google Analytics
www.contentstack.com
Starts at $995/month
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Custom workflows, real-time updates
Best for: Developers, digital marketers
Known Integrations: Shopify, Typeform, Gatsby
www.datocms.com
Freemium
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Web Spotlight, in-context editing
Best for: Developers, content teams, marketers
Known Integrations: Magento, Shopify, Zapier
www.kontent.ai
Starts at $1,249/month
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Smart Edge Cache, intuitive schema editor
Best for: Developers, content creators
Known Integrations: ActiveCampaign, HubSpot
www.graphcms.com
Freemium
SEO Tools In-Built: No
Unique Features: Visual builder, content preview
Best for: Developers, content creators, marketers
Known Integrations: React, Angular, Gatsby
www.builder.io
Freemium
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: The Sanity Studio
Best for: Developers, product owners
Known Integrations: React, Gatsby, Netlify

www.sanity.io
Freemium
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Unlimited API requests
Best for: Developers, content managers
Known Integrations: Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure
www.agilitycms.com
Starts at $900/month
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Gated content, 24/7 support
Best for: Developers, marketers, executives
Known Integrations: Zoho, Salesforce, PayPal

www.coredna.com
Starts at $1,250/month
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Flexible content modeling, team-based
Best for: Developers, marketers, agencies
Known Integrations: Salesforce, Angular, React
www.buttercms.com
Starts at $83/month
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Single sign-on, auto backup
Best for: Developers
Known Integrations: React, Jamstack

www.cosmicjs.com
Freemium
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Visual editor, custom workflows
Best for: Developers, content creators
Known Integrations: Javascript, React
www.storyblok.com
Freemium
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Multi-database support, RESTful API
Best for: Developers, content/product managers
Known Integrations: Sendgrid, React, Laravel
www.strapi.io
Freemium
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Hybrid Headless, custom code fields
Best for: Developers
Known Integrations: dotCMS apps, OSGI plugins
www.dotcms.com
Custom Quote
SEO Tools In-Built: No
Unique Features: Real-time visual feedback
Best for: Developers
Known Integrations: Next.JS

www.tina.io
Free to Use
SEO Tools In-Built: No
Unique Features: Custom code extension, self-hosted
Best for: Developers
Known Integrations: Laravel
www.getcockpit.com
Free to Download
SEO Tools In-Built: No
Unique Features: Powered by DynamoDB and Elasticsearch
Best for: Developers
Known Integrations: HubSpot, ClickSend
www.webiny.com
Freemium
SEO Tools In-Built: No
Unique Features: Extensible GraphQL API, 100% Typescript
Best for: Developers, content creators, agencies
Known Integrations: Gatsby, React, Next.JS
www.keystonejs.com
Free to Use
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Drag and drop builder, flexible schemas
Best for: Developers
Known Integrations: NodeJS, MongoDB
www.apostrophecms.com
Custom Quote
SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Git Gateway, built on the Jamstack
Best for: Developers
Known Integrations: Zapier, GraphCMS
www.netlifycms.org
Free to Use

Niche/Specialist Headless CMS

SEO Tools In-Built: Yes
Unique Features: Theme library, native engagement analytics
Best for: Developers, product/content managers
Known Integrations: Buffer, Slack, Zapier
www.ghost.org
Starts at $9/month
SEO Tools In-Built: No
Unique Features: SLAs available, self-hosted
Best for: Developers, content creators
Known Integrations: Gatsby, HUGO, Vue.JS

www.directus.io
Freemium

MAXIMISE PERFORMANCE

The Best Technologies
for a Headless CMS

CMS Framework

Jamstack is an architecture designed to make the web faster, more secure, and easier to scale. It brings API-driven software tech stacks to the world of websites to compete with the likes of WordPress and other Dynamic site builders.

Static Site Generators (SSG)

Next.js

Gatsby

Gridsome

Hugo

Serverless Hosting Platforms

VERCEL

NETLIFY

BEST PRACTICES

SEO with a Headless CMS

Since a headless CMS comes only as a back-end solution, you don’t have the standard SEO functionalities that you typically get from a traditional CMS. However, when you invest time into implementing SEO correctly on a headless CMS, it can significantly boost your website performance in terms of speed and flexibility.

Here are mandatory best practices that you need to follow:

Ensuring Crawlability

Use the Schema.org markup schema

Add your meta tags

Regularly perform a website audit

Website Performance

Use a Static Site Generator (SSG)

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Optimise image formats (use SVG or WEBP formats)

Upgrade every website page to HTTPS

Be mobile-ready

Setting Foundations

Perform a keyword research

Follow an SEO-friendly URL structure

Produce SEO-optimised content regularly

LEARN MORE

Frequently Asked Questions

Besides structure, a traditional CMS and headless CMS can be compared on various factors. This includes differences in the amount of investment, device support, workflow, and reach.

  • Investment: A traditional CMS tends to require a large upfront cost while a headless CMS can offer a quick proof of concept.

  • Supported Devices: There is a limit to the number of devices a traditional CMS can support as opposed to a headless CMS that can support limitless devices.

  • Workflow: A traditional CMS follows the waterfall workflow while a headless CMS adopts an Agile workflow.

  • Reach: In terms of reach, a traditional CMS only supports one-to-one reach as opposed to a headless CMS that has one-to-many reach.
  • The major advantages of adopting a headless CMS design mostly root in accessibility and the close integration of tools for authoring and publishing content. To break it down, the benefits of using a headless CMS are as follows:

  • Flexibility: Headless CMS is more flexible, along with being easier and significantly faster. Since headless CMS is API-driven, you get full control over the appearance of your content and you can work with your favourite frameworks and tools.

  • Reusability: You can reuse and repurpose your content to serve any digital channel. A headless CMS is built for a multi-channel approach, allowing you to create content and publish it anywhere it is needed with a click of a button.

  • User-Friendly: Content delivered via API is easier to maintain and distribute, and it’s easier to edit for non-technical people.

  • Cost-Efficiency: Headless CMS allows for the development of proof of concepts. It allows organizations to start with smaller solutions and then scale it up as per their needs. This reduces upfront costs.

  • Enhanced Security: Since the content publishing platform is not bound to the database – the risk of malware attacks is lower.

  • Future-Proof: By separating the presentation layer from the data layer, you can structure your content and make it adaptable to future modifications.

  • Since a headless CMS is a back-end only system, this is a common concern. With a headless CMS, you can still review how your content looks before publishing it but some additional development may be required. It all depends on the technology and channels you are considering for publishing your content.

    Many industries and verticals have embraced the headless CMS as a central platform that powers their entire digital experience across all devices and platforms. Headless CMS allows companies to connect with customers at scale, respond quickly to emerging market opportunities, and streamline content operations while remaining agile.

    Financial services, online retailers, airlines, and technology firms are some of the few businesses already using headless CMS.

    A decoupled CMS is the one where the back-end and front-end of the system are separate. Therefore, a headless CMS is a type of decoupled CMS.

    A decoupled CMS may still have a front-end architecture where the content gets funnelled into templates before being displayed. This is not the case with a headless CMS where there is no established front-end environment.

    If you feel like traditional CMS is too limiting for you and you need a more flexible tool, then you should go headless. Pre-defined templates in traditional CMSs are not ideal if you wish to create a unique website that can be displayed on any device.

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