Top 6 Most Popular Headless CMS
Story by Alex Augustyniak
8 min read
Looking for a good headless CMS for your business? In this article, we will show you the most popular solutions of this type on the market.
Choosing a content management system for a project is not easy. It depends on many factors, such as the price of the solution, the ease of use, or the availability of support and add–ons. To begin with, however, it is worthwhile to have a good understanding of what Headless CMS really is and in which situations it will work as a basis for your business.
What is a headless CMS?
Headless CMS or 'headless' content manager is software for creating digital platforms. It is used to create and manage content and makes it easy to extend the functionality of your application. "Headless", or "decoupled", is an adjective describing a completely different philosophy of application development, a departure from the traditional front-end – back-end model.
In a headless CMS, a standard front-end is replaced by an API (application programming interface), i.e. a user interface through which content is passed on to other systems. This comes with many great advantages! Above all, content created in one place can be presented in multiple channels simultaneously.
When using a “standard” CMS and having, for example, a website and a mobile app, you have to enter content separately everywhere. With a headless CMS, content from a single source can be made available to both the “front” of the website, the mobile app, and anywhere else. The only point of contact is the API, which takes the content from the database and makes it available in a standardized form further down the line. This flexibility works well, for example, with multilingual portals, mobile applications, POS systems, etc.
Headless CMS is the solution for those who are thinking about business development. It is much easier to add more “front-end blocks” here. This modern approach has become extremely popular with the growth of the mobile app market.
Want to know more about Headless CMS? Then buckle up and let's jump right in!
The most popular on the market
Now that you understand what a headless CMS is, it's time to choose the best one for your needs. Many such solutions have been developed recently. However, it must be frankly admitted that most of them have still not risen above the start–up level and cannot be taken seriously as a long-term, stable and secure solution.
Our overview will be based on the popularity of the specific content managers and their functionality. Here are five headless CMSs worth looking at.
- Kentico Kontent
- Netlify CMS
- Easy customization of the API to suit specific needs.
- Quite a few extensions, helping, for example, to manage emails, video, or integration with payment systems.
- Large online community.
- EO tools as standard.
- Support for multiple databases: SQLite, PostgreSQL, and MySQL.
Strapi is a really good tool and is used by Toyota, Walmart, and IBM, among others. Unfortunately, although it is open source, you will only get access to some of the functionality after purchasing a subscription. You can check current prices on the official Strapi site.
Sanity offers the user a very good editor that works on a WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) basis. This makes it easy for content creators to adjust their content and see changes in real-time.
Other advantages of Sanity:
- Real-time preview of the content
- Easy control of changes and restoration of previous versions
- Sweet Query API, allowing developers to cache multiple queries within a single request.
- Large database of documentation, tutorials, and training available on the project website.
Sanity has been chosen by companies such as Nike, National Geographic, or Figma. In its basic version, the solution is free. Full functionality is available by subscribing.
Kontent is a very functional solution. It allows you to organize the work of your team, plan publications and supervise the content creation process. Its intuitive interface makes it a very good choice for marketing teams or editors that have no IT experience.
Advantages of Kentico Kontent:
- Support for multiple media types.
- Simple interface.
- Easy preview of final content before publication.
- Tools for publication planning and teamwork.
The companies that have opted for Kentico's product include Vogue, Isobar, and AC Milan club.
Unlike the previous two, this CMS is a fully cloud-based service, so you don't have to stress about hosting. However, such convenience is also reflected in the price. The cheapest option is a monthly subscription for over $2,499.
4. Netlify CMS
If you want to store your content in a Git repository, Netlify CMS would be a good choice. It's an open-source headless system based on the React library. It will work well for many tasks, especially if you intend to create static websites. The solution will help you to control different drafts of your content, publish it in multiple channels and improve teamwork.
Netlify CMS has all the characteristics of a good 'headless' content manager. It has a slightly smaller online community than its competitors, but quite a vibrant one, striving to improve the project and constantly adding new features.
Netlify CMS advantages:
- Ability to work via web interface and command line.
- Basic templates (Hugo and Gatsby) that allow you to "put up a site" in just a few clicks.
- Easy-to-use interface.
- Nice built-in text editor.
- Automation of GitHub repository updates.
Graphcms is distinguished from its competitors by the format of the API used. Most such solutions are based on Rest or some variation of it. Here’s GraphQL, great for mobile application development in particular.
- Simple and “lightweight” API interface.
- Facilitates the localization of the platform into different languages.
- Easy integration with tools (Zapier, Slack, Jira, HubSpot, etc.).
Graphcms has been chosen by such companies as Discovery, Tchibo, and Unilever. In the "Community" version, the software is free. For the commercial version, depending on your needs, you will have to pay.
Last but certainly not least, we have something that we consider to be the best solution. Drupal has been on the market for over 20 years and is trusted by companies and institutions all over the world. For some reason, however, until now it has been less associated with the headless CMS concept, which is a pity because it works great in this sphere.
Let's face it: given the experience of Drupal's creators and the gigantic community around it, other solutions of this type don't stand much of a chance. Yes, they will work in some situations. But they don't have as many features, customization options, or security assurances. Want to know more? Read our article on why Drupal is the best headless CMS.
- Fully open-source and free.
- Full "out of the box" functionality – simply install and use.
- Thousands of modules to extend functionality. Fully free and perfectly integrated into the core software – you are assured that simply everything will work as it should.
- Automated updates and a simple release calendar.
- Great API.
- SEO support tools.
- A unique community, constantly expanding the Drupal ecosystem.
- Developers with many years of experience and a large knowledge base (tutorials, guides, books).
- Specialized developers working with Drupal for years (e.g. Direktpoint).
In our opinion, Drupal is the best choice. We have been using it at Direktpoint for many years for implementations with various clients.
If you're serious about building your business, don't go for untested "novelties" that may lose support in a few years. Go for something that is trusted by global clients such as NASA, Tesla, Pfizer, and Pinterest. Want to see who else is using Drupal? Check it out here on the project's official website.
Now you know what Headless CMS is, how it can help you grow your business, and some of the popular options on the market. We hope that after reading our article you already know which one you should go for!
Are you planning to build a digital platform? Don't hesitate to let us know. Let's build something extraordinary together!