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What is a Headless CMS?

A Headless CMS works because it allows content writers to focus on writing, developers can focus on the code, and lets everyone get on with what they do best to get the most desired outcome.
Headless CMS

A Headless CMS is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to manage and organise your content without needing a connected front end or a display layer.

What Does Headless CMS Mean?

A headless content system lets you use a content API to distribute your content wherever and whenever you need or want. In essence, all of your assets and content are live on the site.

How does a Headless CMS Work & How Are They Different to a Traditional CMS?

On a more “traditional” front end CMS, the lines between the content authoring experience and the software development experience can become somewhat blurred. Site administrators can become part writers, developers and security analysts.


A Headless CMS, however, separates content authors from software developers. This distinction helps editors by giving them an interface to manage content, and by using APIs, they can send their content to developers so that they can query and build the website around this content.


Headless CMS’ works because it allows content writers to focus on writing, developers can focus on the code, and lets everyone get on with what they do best to get the most desired outcome for everyone.


Many Headless solutions today are also operated as a SaaS (Software as a Service) company, meaning your backend is managed, and security, servers and scaling are looked after without you having to worry about them.


With a traditional CMS, you get more of an “it does what it says on the tin” approach regarding the content editing interface. But in the last few years, there has been a rise in the popularity of CMS’ that have more flexibility with making content more available.


Some popular examples of a Headless CMS for your website include:

  1. Sanity,
  2. ButterCMS,
  3. Content Stack.

Benefits of a Headless CMS

Having a Headless CMS gives you more freedom and flexibility in how you want to manage your content and gives you a faster editing experience amongst multiple different channels. Not only that, but a Headless option is perfect for developers that want flexible frontend tooling, making it way easier and faster to scale a growing site.

headless cms by sanity

In terms of optimising your content, headless SEO does need to be approached slightly differently but here are five more benefits of having a Headless CMS:

1. Simpler Scaling

A Headless CMS allows you to sort your content from one source of truth. Letting developers change tools anytime helps them benefit from sending your content to a cloud-based hosting service that runs at a higher performance, making scaling much more straightforward.

2. Faster Editing

Compared to a traditional CMS that has to spend big on resources to give you top-quality content editing and rendering, a Headless CMS gives you access to all of these benefits without having to deal with any complicated rendering. Ultimately, you benefit from a faster editing experience.

3. Higher Security

Another benefit is the enhanced security it offers. Their design means they are not connected to the presentation layer, limiting the overall chance of an attack and any damage to the website’s content.

4. Managing More Channels of Content

One of the top benefits of having a headless CMS is that it’s not connected to just one presentation concern (such as a website), which means you can use this CMS over various channels. It allows you the freedom to manage content from apps or even internal admin content all in one place.

5. Flexibility For Developers

Since a headless CMS is served over APIs, developers can choose which frontend tooling is best for them. For example, if your devs are more comfortable with PHP instead of Javascript, then they can work with that. There aren’t any restraints over what they can or cannot use.

Who Benefits From Having a Headless System?

The good thing about getting a headless platform is that everyone can benefit, no matter the size of your site or business, because there is so much flexibility on how you can use it to help serve you and your personal business goals. There isn’t any one rule you have to follow to get the most out of a headless CMS.

Don’t get us wrong; this doesn’t mean that a traditional CMS isn’t beneficial. There are plenty of entirely valid reasons to choose a standard CMS, but if you want a solution built to scale, has good security options and is quick to load, then take the time to seriously consider a headless option.

Picture of Nikki Halliwell

Nikki Halliwell

Based in Manchester, UK, Nikki is a freelance Technical SEO Consultant. She has worked at several agencies and in-house and has worked across the health, hospitality and fashion industries and more. Nikki enjoys working with eCommerce websites and beyond to ensure that websites are easy to find, load quickly and work efficiently.