What is Headless CMS? Introducing the features, advantages and disadvantages, and 10 recommended tools

You may have heard the term Headless CMS , but you may not know what it is, or want to know how it differs from a typical CMS .

With CMS , even if you have no experience in creating websites , you can easily create a website through the management screen. On the other hand, with Headless CMS , there is no management screen and content is delivered directly from the API , so specialized knowledge is required .

In this article, we will introduce the features, advantages and disadvantages of Headless CMS , and 10 recommended tools. If you are not familiar with Headless CMS , please refer to it.

Table of contents

  1. Basic Knowledge of Headless CMS
  2. There are two types of Headless CMS
  3. Advantages and disadvantages of Headless CMS
  4. 10 Recommended Headless CMS Tools
  5. High performance site with Headless CMS

Basic Knowledge of Headless CMS

First of all, as basic knowledge of Headless CMS , I will explain what Headless CMS is, why it is necessary, and the difference from conventional CMS .

What is a Headless CMS?

Headless CMS is a CMS that distributes content directly through API without managing the site on the management screen of the CMS .

A website consists of a front end that handles the display screen, which is a direct point of contact with the user, and a back end that is invisible to the user. Headless can be said to be a CMS that eliminates the display screen and only has a backend function that manages content .

In the conventional CMS , since the front end and back end are managed on the same CMS, when performing repairs, it was possible to collect only within the range that does not affect each other’s systems, but in the case of Headless CMS , it is possible to remove the restrictions and change the system with a high degree of freedom as necessary .

Why you need a Headless CMS

Due to the spread of the new coronavirus infection, companies have been faced with the issue of enhancing web services and improving security.

Users have more opportunities to receive various services via the Internet , such as shopping, food delivery, financial institutions, learning, and exercise.

In order for users to be able to use services that were previously available offline without stress online , the screen display speed of Web services is a key point.

In a normal CMS , it is necessary to exchange data files, but in Headless CMS , files can be displayed as they are, so they can be displayed quickly .

In addition, for services via the Internet , enhancement of security is an issue. The problem is that CMS that generate browsing files through interaction with the server are easy targets for attacks.

However, with Headless CMS , only HTML , CSS , and JavaScript files can be viewed by anyone, making it less likely to be targeted by cyberattacks .

What is the difference between Headless CMS and traditional CMS?

The difference between Headless CMS and conventional CMS is that it has only the backend, which is the management function, or has both the frontend and backend functions, which are the display function.

Since Headless CMS has only management functions, it is necessary to prepare a separate display screen and have specialized knowledge. With Headless CMS , the flexibility of the display screen is increased, and the number of recipients of APIs is greatly increased, so it can support various devices and channels .

On the other hand, in conventional CMS , the main purpose is to utilize in a single channel. For example, there is WordPress as a representative of conventional CMS .

It is introduced as an easy-to-use CMS because it includes all the functions necessary for creating and managing websites .

Since it is equipped with content display elements that are a direct point of contact with users and content management elements that are invisible to users , it can be said that it is easy to handle even for those who do not have specialized knowledge and are new to CMS .

There are two types of Headless CMS

There are two types of Headless CMS , Self-Hosted type and CaaS type. This depends on where you put your CMS . Let’s take a closer look at each.

Self-hosted type

The Self-Hosted type of Headless CMS operates on the environment where the server and database of Headless CMS are prepared in advance . Therefore, the degree of freedom in construction is high and operation can be performed at low cost.

However, there is more to be done, such as security measures and deployment to make the system available.

CaaS type

The CaaS type of Headless CMS is to run the server and database of Headless CMS in a cloud environment that is deployed as a service .

Therefore, you can save the trouble of management. However, it is often a paid service, so you need to consider the cost as you continue to use it. In addition, there is a risk that the operating company will suddenly stop providing the service.

Advantages and disadvantages of Headless CMS

There are advantages and disadvantages to using Headless CMS . Hold each one in advance.

Advantages of Headless CMS

● No restrictions on compatible devices

One of the advantages of Headless CMS is that there are no restrictions on compatible devices . Headless CMS outputs data through API.

Therefore, it can be used on various devices . Content can be displayed not only on web browsers, but also on i OS and Android apps .

● Clarifying the scope of responsibility of the system

The second merit of Headless CMS is that the scope of responsibility of the system is clarified. Headless CMS is only a backend function, and can be handled separately from the frontend.

When trouble occurs, we identify whether it is the backend or the frontend that is causing the trouble, and only deal with it if it is the backend .

● Expected to improve UX

The third advantage of Headless CMS is that it can be expected to improve UX . UX is an abbreviation for User eXperience, which is the experience a user gets through a system.

Headless CMS speeds up the display speed of the website , so users can enjoy it without stress. In addition, since the flexibility of the display screen is increased , it is possible to build a site that emphasizes the perspective of the website visitor.

In addition, you can use your own security measures, so you can use the website more safely.

Disadvantages of Headless CMS

● Complex preview display

The first disadvantage of Headless CMS is that the preview display is complicated. Headless CMS separates the display function from the CMS , so when building a website , HTML , CSS , and JavaScript are used to display the site through the API.

Therefore, it is difficult to preview the page before publishing from the CMS management screen. In order to display the preview, it is necessary to prepare a preview site as a development environment .

● Needs to be handled by an engineer

The second disadvantage of Headless CMS is the need for engineer support. In order to handle Headless CMS , specialized knowledge such as API implementation knowledge is required . Therefore, it is difficult for non-engineers to deal with it.

● It is necessary to secure human resources with a wide range of knowledge

The third disadvantage of Headless CMS is the need to secure personnel with a wide range of knowledge. Headless CMS requires front-end personnel in addition to back-end experts.

Headless CMS does not have a viewer, so front-end development is required to see how the content will be displayed.

Also, it is necessary to acquire knowledge about the API when outputting content data from the Headless CMS to an external front end . It can be said that the higher the degree of freedom, the wider the skills required for developers .

10 Recommended Headless CMS Tools

Here are our top 10 picks for Headless CMS tools.

・Shifter Headless
・Netlify CMS
・Adobe Experience Manager Sites



Ghost is a blog- specific Headless CMS developed and operated by Ghost Foundation . Since it has the functions necessary for managing a media-type website , it is suitable for developing websites with article content such as blogs and owned media .

Also, since it resembles the traditional CMS WordPress , it is easy to use if you are familiar with WordPress .

❷ microCMS


micro CMS is a Heasless CMS made in Japan based on API . Used by major Japanese companies, it enables optimal display not only on websites but also on smartphone apps .

You can expect to reduce man-hours and improve productivity because you can cut development and operation costs and respond quickly in-house.

In addition, although it is a Headless CMS , it can be updated without code , so it can be managed by non-engineers.



Contentful is an API-first Headless CMS developed by a German startup . Spotfiy is a well-known example .

It is characterized by a full range of functions, such as a function that automatically resizes images and markdown notation.

❹ Strap


Strapi is a Headless CMS provided by Node.js. So you need both Node.js and a database execution environment.

Easy API development without coding. It is also a feature that it is released as open source software . It can be used easily even in an in-house network.

❺ Shifter Headless

Shifter Headless is a Headless CMS that makes your website Headless based on WordPress . You can check your CDN usage through your dashboard.

In addition, since it supports multi-factor authentication, there is a feature that it can be managed in a high security state .

❻ Netlify CMS



Netlify CMS is a Headless CMS operated by Netlify in the United States . Intuitive operation is possible with an easy-to-use UI such as rich text editing and real-time preview .

It is an open source CMS and is characterized by its excellent compatibility with Netliy.

❼ Graph CMS


Graph CMS is a Headless CMS that can receive responses in GraphQL, one of the programming languages ​​developed by meta . Developed by a German venture company.

It uses a content modeling builder, can be structured as desired, and caches query responses all over the world, so it is characterized by high-speed delivery of content .

❽ Prismic


Prismic is a Headless CMS that supports various programming languages ​​provided by a French startup .

It is used by major global companies such as Google and Ford. Although it is a Headless CRM , it is characterized by its rich functions such as image optimization and live preview.

❾ Adobe Experience Manager Sites

Adobe Experience Manager Sites is a Headless CMS developed by Adobe . Both website creators and non-engineers can manage their content on the same basis.

Adobe Experience Manager Sites can distribute content to various channels and realize flexible construction and management for UX .

➓ Directus


Directus is an open source data platform Headless CMS . The programming language uses PHP. The UI does not require specialized skills , so it is characterized by easy content management.

High performance site with Headless CMS

While Headless CMS allows you to build sites with a high degree of freedom without being bound by any system, it has the drawback of requiring a high degree of expertise in operation.

If you do not have specialist personnel in your company, if you want to operate with multiple people, if you consider ease of handover, etc., it would be a good idea to compare it with a CMS with an intuitive operation feeling .

❶ Overwhelmingly easy-to-use CMS with “edit as you see”

Unlike WordPress , it is a CMS that allows you to “edit as you see it” , so even those who do not have knowledge of HTML and servers can easily create and update sites and LPs. Not only can you quickly implement the measures you want to take and turn the PDCA cycle speedily, you can also prevent site operation from becoming dependent on the individual.

❷ Lead acquisition and nurturing functions

CTA buttons and inquiry forms can also be easily installed just by arranging the parts. In addition, it is equipped with various marketing functions that make it easy to implement lead acquisition measures such as content marketing , white papers , and videos, and nurture measures such as email marketing .

Leave a Comment