Sustainable Growth

The Best Headless CMS: Comprehensive Comparison

We wrote this article to help website owners discover the top headless CMS options available in the market and make more informed decisions about how to grow high-traffic website audience and earnings. It's particularly relevant to this Reddit Thread and questions "Headless CMS recommendations." 

fwiw, I went out on a date with a new AI image generator. Clearly "understanding the best headless CMS" requires the old two S CMSS, lol.

—> fwiw, went on a date with a new AI image generator. Clearly, "understanding the best headless CMS" requires the old two S CMSS, lol.

Understanding the "Headless CMS" value proposition

A headless CMS is a content management system that allows content creators to create and manage content without being directly connected to the specific front-end presentation layer. Unlike traditional CMSs, coupled with a specific website or application, a headless CMS provides content in a structured format via an API, allowing it to be displayed on various platforms and devices.

  • To illustrate in lay terms: Think of a headless CMS like a gourmet kitchen that prepares delicious meals (content) to be served anywhere, from street corners to private events. The gourmet kitchen (CMS) focuses on crafting delicious food without worrying about ensuring a premium experience for how and where diners will eat it—whether on a fancy wedding plate or a sturdy compostable tray at a festival. This flexibility allows the gourmet kitchen to deliver top-notch culinary experiences across diverse settings — much like a headless CMS delivers content seamlessly across various platforms.

One of the key concepts of a headless CMS is separating the back-end content management functionality from the front-end presentation layer. This gives developers more flexibility and freedom when designing and delivering content to different channels, such as websites, mobile apps, smart devices, and more. The division of Amazon Web Services / AWS servicing high-traffic websites recommends using a headless CMS, especially when integrated with high-end monetization tools, and cross-channel analytics.  

The division of Amazon Web Services / AWS servicing high traffic websites recommends using a headless CMS, especially when integrated with high-end monetization tools, and cross-channel analytics.  

Now, this, I gotta say, is legit. Wow. 

Top 5 Features to Look for in a Headless CMS

When choosing a headless CMS, there are five key features to consider:

  1. API capabilities: Look for a CMS that offers a robust and flexible API, as this will be the primary method of accessing and retrieving content. 
    1. GraphQL is a query language for APIs and a runtime for fulfilling those queries with your existing data. Imagine GraphQL APIs as your school cafeteria, where you can fill your tray with exactly the foods you like. Instead of grabbing a pre-packed lunch box with items you might not eat, GraphQL allows you to choose only your favorites—pizza, but no salad; fries, but no apple. This way, you get a meal that's perfectly tailored to your taste, no more, no less, making lunchtime faster and more enjoyable.
  2. Content modeling: Ensure that the CMS allows you to define and structure your content in a way that makes sense for your specific needs.
    1. React (also known as React.js or ReactJS) is a free and open-source front-end JavaScript library. Think of building a website with React and Next.js, like constructing a LEGO set with custom bricks. Normally, LEGO sets come with predefined pieces you assemble according to instructions. React gives you the power to design your own LEGO bricks (components) that can do exactly what you want—like a brick that can change color or shape. Next.js then takes these custom bricks and helps you build not just any model but a high-tech one that can automatically open doors, light up, or even move, making your creation more interactive and responsive, just like modern web applications. This combination lets you craft websites that are not only unique but also dynamic and user-friendly, perfectly tailored to your content's needs.
  3. Multi-channel support: Ensure the CMS can deliver content to multiple channels, such as websites, mobile apps, IoT devices, etc.
    1. You shouldn't have to stress over mobile vs. desktop, ever. If this is a concern, you should find a different provider. 
  4. User-friendly interface: A user-friendly interface is important for content creators to easily manage and update content without relying on developers.
    1. WordPress is one of the most popular and widely used platforms for bloggers, content creators, journalists, and editors. It's known for its flexibility, extensive customization options through themes and plugins, and a large community of users and developers. 
  5. Scalability: Consider the scalability of the CMS, especially if you anticipate your content needs to grow over time.
    1. You need to make sure that you can scale both audience AND revenue
      1. i.e. it's about the ~hundreds of thousands, ~millions, ~tens-of-millions, ~hundreds-of-millions of visitors per month
      2. AND the ~thousands, ~tens-of-thousands, ~hundreds-of-thousands, ~millions of dollars a month in revenue that comes with it).  

By considering these key features, you can find a headless CMS that meets your business requirements and allows you to deliver content seamlessly across various platforms.

Top Headless CMS Platforms

There are several top headless CMS platforms available in the market today. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Contentful: offers cloud-enabled headless CMS with API and content modeling capabilities.
  • Prismic: headless CMS with a user-friendly interface and customizable content.
  • Organic: Organic is a headless CMS with integrated monetization tools and cross-channel analytics. 
  • Strapi: Strapi is an open-source headless CMS that allows developers to build quickly.
  • Sanity: Sanity is a headless CMS that offers a collaborative environment for content creators and developers.
  • Kentico Kontent: Kentico Kontent is a cloud-enabled headless CMS that provides content management and delivery features.

DALL·E 2024-03-14 10.17.54 - Create an image that illustrates the concept of Top Headless CMS Platforms. Visualize a podium or ranking display showcasing symbols or abstract rep

LFG

These are just a few examples of the top headless CMS platforms available. Each platform has its own strengths and features, so it's important to evaluate them based on your specific requirements.

Pros and Cons of Each Headless CMS Platform

While each headless CMS platform has its own advantages and disadvantages, here are some common pros and cons to consider:

Contentful:

  • API, flexible content modeling, scalable infrastructure.
  • Higher cost for larger projects, steeper learning curve for non-technical users.

Prismic:

  • User-friendly interface, customizable content structures, entry-level pricing.
  • Limited API capabilities and less flexibility in content modeling.

Organic:

  • Enhances WordPress to help publishers increase their audience and earnings through optimized content delivery and management.
  • Lightning-fast headless frontend, SEO-focused content blocks, syndication controls, and no-code ad and affiliate revenue optimizations. 

Strapi:

  • Open-source, easy to use and customize, extensive plugin ecosystem.
  • Less mature compared to other platforms, limited enterprise-level support.

Sanity:

  • Real-time collaboration, flexible content modeling, customizable workflows.
  • Higher cost for larger projects, limited third-party integrations.

Kentico Kontent:

  • Wide range of content management features, and strong developer support.
  • Higher cost compared to some other platforms, a steeper learning curve.

Making the Right Choice for Your Business

Choosing the right headless CMS for your business is an important decision, which affects critical business outcomes.

Choosing the right headless CMS is akin to selecting the foundation and materials for a building. The wrong choice can lead to structural issues, making the building unsafe and uncomfortable, eventually leading to its abandonment. Conversely, like the best materials and design, the right CMS ensures a stable, welcoming environment that keeps creators and visitors engaged and satisfied, fostering growth and success.

Choosing the right headless CMS is akin to selecting the foundation and materials for a building. The wrong choice can lead to structural issues, making the building unsafe and uncomfortable, eventually leading to its abandonment. Conversely, the right CMS, like the best materials and design, ensures a stable, welcoming environment that keeps creators and visitors engaged and satisfied, fostering growth and success.

We would maybe hang this up on our wall at work.  

By carefully considering these factors and conducting thorough research, you can make an informed decision and choose the best headless CMS for your business. For more questions, you can also reach out to Tom Imboden