Wednesday, September 28, 2022

What is Headless CMS: What They Mean for Your Business


The rise of headless CMSs has been explosive in recent years. This new type of content management system is quickly becoming the most popular option for many businesses, and it’s easy to see why once you understand how they work. Headless CMSs have a few important advantages over traditional web-based systems, but what really sets them apart is their architecture.

It’s difficult to describe what a headless CMS is without first looking at the conventional content management system and what it was intended to accomplish. Traditional CMSes have been around since the early days of web development. WordPress and Sitecore, for example, were built with the intent of storing and presenting text, pictures, and video on the internet.

The traditional CMS method of content management stores everything in one big container, which makes it impossible to reuse the material since it’s mixed with code.

The need for more adaptable solutions has grown as digital platforms have developed. Businesses are now building websites, mobile sites, apps, digital signage, conversational interfaces, and other such technologies. Meanwhile, the traditional CMS has fallen behind. What’s the problem? Because a CMS organizes content in webpage-oriented structures, it is difficult to deliver content in a form that can be consumed by other platforms.

For example, it’s hard to get your head around the idea of scrolling through an article on Twitter or Facebook – you’d have little success! The traditional CMS simply doesn’t work for these types of applications. In the new world where the web has become a multi-platform reality, the old CMS doesn’t fit.

The new way to think about content is as atomic elements that are organized into visual components – headless cms enable this type of flexibility by taking out all content management functionality from its core. Instead, developers build their own applications with which they can use these modular pieces of content in any way they see fit.

This is a huge advantage for developers, who can build the best user experience possible without having to restrict themselves by pre-existing CMS features that may not work as intended. In addition, headless CMS enables us to focus less on content management and more on building better products – which ultimately benefits our customers!

What is Headless CMS

A headless CMS is a back-end content management system in which the “body” of the content repository is separated or decoupled from the “head” of the presentation layer. Headless CMS content is delivered via APIs for seamless display across various devices.

A “headless API,” as its name implies, allows you to send content to a separate presentation layer. Because the presentation layer is isolated from the body, they call it “headless.”

One method to work around the constraints of a conventional CMS is to use a “headless” CMS, which refers to a CMS with no presentation layer. If the “head” of a CMS is its presentation layer, then eliminating it leaves us with a headless CMS.

While this sort of headless CMS allows you to pick a suitable presentation layer for a digital platform, it doesn’t address an underlying issue: structuring content so that it may be reused across various platforms and channels.

A headless CMS is an application that can be used without a user interface (UI). It’s like an uncluttered, content-focused architecture. A completely non-mobile web page with no distractions also supports the same goal as timeless architecture: to display information in minimal time but in a visually appealing way.

North Studio - Headless CMS

Headless CMS vs Traditional CMS

A traditional CMS is software that you either install and maintain on your own or on a hosted server platform. Because they include all of the functionality and assumptions for how you want to work, traditional CMSes are also known as monolithic. Traditional CMSs generally come with a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) editor to facilitate content creation.

Headless CMSs, on the other hand, are decoupled from any front-end technology or application and deliver raw data through an API that can be used by developers of all types for different purposes. A headless CMS leaves you room for more flexibility in how your site is designed because it doesn’t come with the assumptions that traditional CMSs do.

Headless architectures can also offer better performance and security because there is less code to execute on your web server, which means you don’t have as many vulnerabilities or open doors for hackers. With headless architecture, more of your content management system resides in the cloud where it can be maintained and updated, rather than on your actual website.

Headless CMS Benefits

Here are some of the advantages of a headless CMS system.

Enhanced Editing Capabilities

If your website uses a basic CMS, you’ll have to spend time managing and formatting the content. A headless CMS has an edge over traditional options because it doesn’t have to deal with the rendering component. Other parts of your stack will handle this job.

Flexibility For Developers

Developers have complete freedom to choose their own frontend tooling because headless content is delivered over APIs. You may work with Javascript rather than PHP or Ruby if that’s what you want. You can also interchange parts of your stack or migrate from one framework to another without affecting the CMS.

Create And Edit More Than One Content Channels

Headless content is independent of a specific presentation issue (e.g. website), thus it may be shared across numerous platforms. You can use a headless CMS to control the content for apps and websites. You can also extract more value from your internal/admin material by keeping everything in one place.

Improved Performance

Headless CMSs are designed for high speed which means no page refreshes necessary when adding new content. There is also no need to load large amounts of content. Instead, the headless CMS will only send what is necessary each time you click on a link or button.

More Efficient

Headless CMSs are built around APIs which means that they require fewer people and less support than traditional systems do. If your developers can adjust an API, then they can work with a headless CMS. It takes less time to set up, which means that you have more freedom over your content strategy without the constraints of limited resources.

Enhanced Security

Unlike traditional systems where everything is accessible on one server, headless cms are stored in the cloud rather than on the client side or within a company’s firewall. This means that headless cms are more secure than traditional systems, which can result in less data loss and business disruption. It also protects your customers’ private information because everything is always encrypted on the server side before it even leaves the device.

Increased Speed and Performance

The headless CMS is not responsible for displaying the content, so it doesn’t require a server-side framework to render HTML. Additionally, because there’s no front end in this architecture style (like Angular or React), all requests are directly made to the back end without any additional steps like parsing JavaScript on your browser.

This results in a faster page load time and reduced server requests compared to the traditional model which makes headless CMSs an optimal choice for high-traffic websites like eCommerce, news sites and blogs.

Easier Scale

Headless is a simple, all-in-one CMS that allows you to control your content from only one source of truth, change developer tools at any time, and benefit from sending your information to high-performance cloud-based hosting.

What is Headless CMS: What They Mean for Your Business

How does a Headless CMS work?

A headless CMS, like Contentful or Prismic, can be accessed through a simple API. It serves content to your apps and websites without the need for front-end software like WordPress or Drupal that requires you to write code in order to receive new data. Instead of developing web pages from within the CMS itself, developers work with APIs to receive content.

This makes app development faster and easier since developers don’t have to worry about building the front-end interface of your site or web application, they just focus on building apps that can access data through APIs. This is perfect for companies who are looking to build their own custom applications without investing in front-end software development teams with technical expertise in both content management and application development.

The headless CMS works in two steps.

  • The infrastructure layer, which is responsible for data and content management. This is where content producers create and modify data.
  • The application layer provides developers with the ability to design bespoke front-end interfaces for your website or web applications based on specific requirements. Then, using an API, connect it to the data in the infrastructure layer.

Use Cases for Headless CMS

There are many use cases for headless CMS, we have listed the best ones:

Website or Web Apps

Businesses can use headless CMS to build robust, highly scalable websites. This type of CMS is very popular with companies who are looking for a built-in content management system that offers more flexibility in their website’s front end

Mobile Apps

With headless cms, you can create great user experiences on mobile devices by using APIs to access the data stored in your CMS.

Mobile apps are becoming more popular, and that’s why headless CMS gives you the option to create great user experiences on mobile devices by using APIs.

API-first Approach

A headless CMS is best for the API-first approach because it provides an open interface to your data layer which helps develop a content-rich experience in different applications.

Standalone Applications

This type of headless CMS is ideal for creating standalone applications that require a content management system. For example, you could create an application dedicated to managing your company’s knowledge base or other types of customer support systems within the organization. You can also use headless cms to build custom-tailored web apps.

Headless architecture

With headless cms, you don’t need to use a front-end framework like Angular or React because the CMS will provide all of that for you. Headless architecture is an approach where various non-browser-based technologies are used as the means to deliver content and functionality on top of existing web experiences.

Ecommerce Sites

Some headless CMSes are adaptable enough to be used as an e-commerce backend. The headless CMS allows you to develop content once and then serve it in a variety of ways. This allows you to have a single product catalog that is readily changeable while developing various sorts of experiences for your site visitors.

North Studio - Headless CMS

How do I choose the right headless CMS?

There are a lot of alternatives available, and it might be hard to understand their many features. We believe that the ideal CMS is one that can grow with you while still delivering value.

Here are 5 questions you may ask to help you evaluate the market:

  1. Is it possible for me to produce the types of content structures I require with this tool?
  2. Do I have the time and resources to handle content hosting and upkeep on my own?
  3. Will my data be kept securely and in a privacy-compliant manner?
  4. Is it possible to use real-time editing and collaboration to enhance my productivity?
  5. How does it keep track of files and image assets?

Final Thought

Using a headless CMS for your digital strategy will allow you to focus on app building, not front-end design or coding. The first step in choosing the right solution that meets your business needs is to understand what you intend to build.

If you are building a content-heavy website, then a headless CMS is the best option. In fact, it will allow you to manage all your data and content from one central location that can be accessed by any device or channel.

We hope this article helped you understand headless CMS and its role in your digital strategy.

Ready to explore headless CMS?

North Studio logoConnect with North Studio, a top-tier development, and design firm, to get started on your headless CMS journey. Let North Studio transform your digital presence into a robust, cohesive digital strategy that is customized to your business model and gives your organization a competitive edge.

Contact Brian Craigie at North Studio today! Email Brian at


John Diep
John Diep
Founder, Editor-In-Chief // A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, ICANN, and Raytheon. A mentor at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Entrepreneur School, Dr. David Choi. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; and invested in some. // Let's Connect:


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