What is The Headless CMS & What Are Its Pros & Cons?

Krishan Kumar April 20, 2022

What is The Headless CMS & What Are Its Pros & Cons?

When it comes to building a website and delivering content to your target audience, there’s no shortage of options. You can use website builders such as Shopify and CMSs such as WordPress.

If you follow the CMS route, there’s no standard solution available. What if you want to distribute your content beyond websites? Is there any option? Yes – the headless CMS. In this post, we are going to discuss the concept of the headless content management system, its major benefits, and headless CMS vs traditional CMS.

What is a Headless CMS?

As the name suggests a headless CMS is a type of content management system in which the presentation layer (head) is separated from the content repository. So, the concept behind the name is cutting the head i.e. the front end from the body i.e. the back end in the CMS.

The headless CMS allows you to have complete control over how the content will be accessed. You will get a variety of tools and workflows to organize content. The content present in the headless CMS can be delivered to any display channels through APIs.

Pros of Headless CMS

Pros of headless CMS

Omnichannel experience

Originally, CMSs were built for websites only. With technology shifting from desktops to other platforms, new delivery layers are required to be developed. With headless CMSs, you can easily deliver content into different channels, such as mobile applications, smartwatches, etc., thus creating an omnichannel experience for your target audience. Truly, an omnichannel marketing strategy can help in higher customer satisfaction rates and increase revenue of an organization.


A headless CMS can help you make use of new technologies and the ones that will be launched in the future, thus delivering an excellent experience to your customers. If you see your target audience is getting inclined to a new platform, start pushing more content there to get better results. There’s no need to change your CMS. Just focus on how to model and distribute content, and leave the rest on APIs. Thus, you can easily scale up/down your system as per changing demands.

Flexible & quick development

Headless CMS allows you to integrate any codebase or programming language. Thus, you can develop your own frontend framework incorporating the design and medium that fits your business. Additionally, you can directly access the CMS to build mini-sites and reuse content, which ensures reduced overall costs and faster completion of projects.

Enhanced security

Since the presentation layer and the database are not connected to each other, security issues of one layer won’t get transferred to another.

Often the content delivered through APIs is read-only, this adds an extra layer of security. What’s more? You can place the API in multiple layers of code to make it less vulnerable to attack.

Thus, headless CMSs are more secure as compared to traditional CMSs.

Cons of Headless CMS


High flexibility in headless CMS means making the architecture more complex. Since there are multiple components associated with the CMS, they need to be designed, managed, and maintained properly. Any failure in the process can lead to performance and reliability issues.

Need more development support

Headless CMSs support new technologies including IoT devices. However, if you want to reap the full benefits, you must have a team of developers who specialize in different programming languages and front-end development technologies.

Limited tools for content creators

New headless CMSs are built considering the developers’ needs, thus many systems don’t contain intrusive content creation tools, such as the WYSIWYG editor for live preview. Thus, your non-technical staff has to spend more time doing their jobs.


Headless CMS vs Traditional CMS

Headless CMS vs traditional CMS

Parameter Headless CMS Traditional CMS
Suitable for Websites and mobile applications Websites only
Flexibility Developers can use any technologies and frameworks they are comfortable with It works on specific frameworks and programming languages
Scalability Highly scalable system Conservative & offers limited scalability
Security Since the content publishing platform can’t be accessed through the CMS database, chances of experiencing a DDoS attack are reduced.  

It runs on a server without SQL, thus preventing SQL injections.

Due to linkage of front-end and back-end, there are higher risks of several security breaches, such as DDoS, SQL injection, XSS vulnerabilities, etc.
Content delivery It delivers an omnichannel experience. You can use the same content over different channels to reach a wider audience The same content can’t be shared over different channels.
Content coupling/decoupling capabilities Content is decoupled from the infrastructure; you can create a fully customized front end without altering the content. Traditional CMSs are coupled; on changing the design format, the content adjusts automatically
Appearance You can have full control over the appearance of content Built-in templates and themes and their customization available

Do You Need a Headless CMS?

Well, it depends on your requirements. There are several use cases where headless CMSs outstand traditional CMSs. Here are some of them-

  • Some headless CMSs can be used as eCommerce sites’ backends. They can help improve customer experience, offer a personalized shopping experience, and improve security of sensitive information during transactions.
  • Since headless CMSs work well with APIs, websites and apps built using JavaScript frameworks such as React, Angular, and Ember.js can use this content management system.
  • Financial institutions that need custom web-based or mobile applications need not spend thousands of dollars on commercial CMSs or eCommerce apps. They can use headless CMSs to display banners and promotional offers to boost cross-selling.
  • If you are working in an industry in which you need to push your content to different channels/platforms to reach your potential customers, a headless CMS can help you meet your goals.

Key Considerations to Choose The Right Headless CMS

Ready to go headless? Here are some key considerations to help you get what suits your business the best-

  • Identify your content goals. Do you have a fixed schedule or want to create content continuously?
  • Determine your technical and design needs
  • Do you want to have more control over your CMS code?
  • Your development team’s skill set
  • Do you require intensive onboarding/training time to adapt the solution?

Popular Headless CMSs

  • Sanity
  • Contentful
  • Butter CMS
  • Magnolia
  • Contentstack
  • Agility CMS

Key Takeaways

A headless CMS gives you an interface to manage your content easily while allowing developers to use cutting-edge technologies to build new applications hassle-free. You can use the CMS to deliver the content to different channels through APIs. Some of the key benefits of headless CMSs are flexibility, scalability, enhanced security, quick development, and cost-saving. However, there are some cons of headless CMSs, such as dependency on developers and limited tools for content creators.

Ready to go headless or migrate from a traditional CMS, but don’t know where to start? Talk to our expert developers today.

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