What is a Headless CMS?

A headless CMS is a back-end only content management system (CMS) built as an editing interface and database that makes content accessible via an API for display on any device.

A headless CMS is a back-end only content management system (CMS) built as an editing interface and database that makes content accessible via an API for display on any device.


On the other hand, traditional CMS is an all-in-one system, also known as a monolithic architecture. Headless CMS is different from traditional CMS in several ways. While a traditional CMS has three components (an editing interface, a database and a presentation layer), a headless CMS has two components (only an editing interface and database). The head or presentation layer is abstracted away with a headless CMS. So, headless CMS solely focuses on sorting and delivering structured content via API.


With a headless CMS you can have a website, mobile app or an Amazon Alexa app all built on different platforms pulling data from the same source. A traditional CMS, on the other hand, is tightly coupled to a single presentation layer and platform.


When going with a headless CMS you have many options without being locked into a specific tech stack. Some headless CMS options include Sanity.io, Contentful, Storyblok, DatoCMS. Even monolithic CMS such as Wordpress and Drupal are moving towards a more headless approach.