Top Headless Content Management Systems: A Comprehensive Comparison

by Paresh Khandelwal

With billions of websites and the number rising daily, reaching your target audience and maintaining their attention is increasingly challenging. To achieve this consistently, you’ll need the right tools for your website. In this regard, you may want to easily manage your website’s content and ensure it is always up-to-date. However, as you know, traditional Content Management Systems (CMS) can be cumbersome and difficult to use, making it hard for you to keep your website running smoothly. 

This is why Headless Content Management Systems (CMS) are invaluable tools. They’re the perfect solution for managing content on websites. Also, CMSs offer an easy way to create, store, update and publish content without having to worry about complex coding or design elements. 

In this article, you will find a comprehensive comparison of six of the top headless CMS systems available today so that you can select the right one for your needs.

Why Should You Use a Headless Content Management System?

A headless CMS is a content management system (CMS) that separates the content from the presentation layer. This allows you to access and manage content easily with the minimal technical knowledge required. Furthermore, with a CMS you can reuse content across different platforms without making complicated changes between systems. 

In addition, headless content management systems are excellent for developers looking to improve their content editing capabilities. These systems provide robust tools for creating, managing, and publishing content quickly and efficiently, allowing developers to focus on design elements and codebase maintenance. 

As a business, using a headless CMS can significantly reduce content creation and management costs. Additionally, it provides an easy way for non-technical users to manage digital content without learning to code. 

Here are some of the top reasons to use a CMS:

  • Easy content creation and management 
  • Greater content flexibility 
  • Improved user experience 
  • Streamlined content updates 
  • Reduced content creation and management costs 
  • Easier content reuse between different platforms

6 Top Headless Content Management Systems You Should Know

As the demand for efficient content management systems increases, there’s been a surge in solutions. Therefore, the most crucial decision you’ll make is choosing which one after deciding to use a CMS.

It can be challenging to decide with numerous options and each offering something unique. To make your decision easier, here are six of the top content management systems you should know:

1. WordPress VIP

WordPress VIP is a powerful decoupled CMS, enabling users to select from single stack, hybrid, or headless approaches for developing digital content. GitHub connects to both WordPress VIP’s codebase and its Automatic host. Furthermore, GraphQL, REST APIs, Cache Gatsby Frontity, and Next.js are also available with this platform. Moreover, it integrates with Salesforce, D20, and WooCommerce.

WordPress VIP offers numerous features, including:

  • Presentation- With thousands of professionally designed themes available to construct any website, you can modify them as needed for special requirements.
  • Content creation- Create pages quickly and easily using the Gutenberg editor, with its intuitive drag-and-drop modular product blocks. 
  • Headless CMS- Decoupled architecture offers immense flexibility to construct robust, modern user experiences for web and mobile applications using REST and GraphQL APIs.
  • Open ecosystem- Plugins enhance functionality and ensure you can move away from one vendor to another without facing any hassles. They help build a marketing technology stack that works for your business, no matter what changes occur in the future. 
  • Security- WordPress VIP provides advanced security to protect content from malicious actors and unauthorized access.
  • Integrated content analytics-By closely monitoring how content performs across various mediums, you can rapidly optimize campaigns for greater success. 
  • Performance- Containerization, Asset Optimization, Content Delivery Networks (CDN), Application Performance Monitoring (APM), and Enterprise Search all work together to provide the highest performance output at full capacity. 
  • Support- WordPress VIP’s expert team is composed of the same WordPress geniuses who worked on the core project. They go beyond supporting CMS to assist customers’ developers in resolving questions related to themes, plugins, and custom coding.

Pros of WordPress VIP:

  • High speed and great performance
  • Scalable
  • Robust Security

Cons of WordPress VIP:

  • Relatively expensive with prices starting at $2,000 monthly
  • Limited flexibility and control

2. Contentful

Contentful is the go-to platform for building digital experiences on a vast scale. It allows your teams to combine all their content in one convenient hub. But that’s not all. They’ll also be able to format it according to any channel they prefer and easily integrate it with hundreds of different tools through open APIs and an app framework. 

Contentful’s decoupled architecture and agile workflows offer businesses numerous advantages, such as shorter time frames until product launch and more significant returns on investments by leveraging existing assets even further.

Some of the critical features of Contentful include:

  • Maximize content creation with dedicated API endpoints that allow you to write, preview and distribute your pieces instantly.
  • Streamline your web applications with RESTful and GraphQL APIs, empowered by lightning-fast global content delivery networks.
  • Compatible with any language and framework, offering eight different SDKs for your convenience.
  • Design your website the way you want with a fully customizable content structure and intuitive user interface.
  • To ensure seamless experiences, localization with fallbacks is essential. This method allows users to easily understand their desired content, no matter the language or location, without disruptions.
  • Streamline your content publishing process with scheduled posts, assign tasks to specific teams and members, and comment on progress, all in one place.
  • With open-source editors and a custom design system, build powerful apps quickly with this comprehensive app framework.

Pros of Contentful:

  • No need to worry about backend database maintenance allowing you to focus on coding and producing content 
  • Enhances the speed and effectiveness of cross-platform development using microservices
  • High scalability and flexibility
  • Pricing starts at $489 a month

Cons of Contentful:

  • The resize feature glitches frequently
  • The content preview feature could use improvement
  • Not as much customization as in other content management systems
  • You’ll experience delays with multilevel user accounts

3. Strapi

Strapi is an open-source content management system (CMS) allowing you to build content-driven applications quickly. It offers a robust set of APIs and an intuitive dashboard, making it easier to create content, manage users and view analytics in real-time.

The CMS is built with Node.js and supports both RESTful APIs and GraphQL out of the box. Moreover, Strapi also includes advanced features such as multi-language support, auto-scaling capabilities, content previewing, and version control. 

Some of the critical features of Strapi include: 

  • Flexible architecture – Strapi lets you use popular frameworks like React and Angular for frontend development without hassle.
  • Custom content types – Easily create content types with custom fields and data models to suit your content needs. 
  • Real-time preview – Preview content in real-time while you’re writing or editing it.
  • Marketing automation tools – Automate content promotion and distribution across multiple channels with marketing automation tools like Segment, Mailchimp, etc. 
  • Easily Integrate third-party services – Quickly integrate third-party applications such as Google Analytics and Algolia search into Strapi.

Pros of Strapi: 

  • Versatile and simple to use as its plugins make it entirely configurable
  • It’s a free open-source solution
  • Has a robust authentication system allowing you to establish numerous users and groups
  • Easy integration with popular frameworks for frontend development 
  • Powerful APIs for content creators and developers alike
  • Very affordable with pricing starting at $9

Cons of Strapi: 

  • Migrating existing APIs is challenging
  • Support for TypeScript is limited
  • While it’s free you’ll need to subscribe to the pro plan to access all its features
  • Not as many customization options compared to other content management systems 
  • The learning curve for those unfamiliar with Node.js development

4. Netlify CMS

If you use static site generators like Jekyll and Hugo, then Netlify is your ideal CMS. It’s a content management system built specifically for static front-end sites.

Netlify CMS is designed to help content teams easily create and manage content without having to be experts in coding or development. It has a user-friendly interface and intuitive workflows that make content creation quick and easy.

Some of the key features of Netlify CMS include: 

  • Fully customizable content types – Customize your content types with custom fields, allowing you to quickly organize content any way you want. 
  • Real-time preview – Preview content in real-time while editing it, so you can ensure everything looks right before publishing it live. 
  • Robust API support– The API supports GraphQL and RESTful calls, making integrating content into your front-end applications easy.

Pros of Netlify CMS: 

  • Offers real-time preview, rich-text editing, and an easy-to-use drag-and-drop feature
  • Has custom fields allowing you to work with numerous content types
  • Robust security
  • Offers great control over custom fields like single-page React app build, community-driven contributions, and editorial workflow
  • Has a free plan and pricing for paid plans start at $19

Cons of Netlify CMS: 

  • You cannot implement changes on your own
  • It’s not compatible with page builders
  • Not as many customization options compared to other content management systems 
  • Limited integration capabilities with third-party services 

5. Contentstack

Contentstack is a cloud-based SaaS platform that provides users with a complete content lifecycle solution. It helps you create, store, manage and publish content in multiple languages across digital channels, all from one platform. 

Contentstack is designed to be both content creator- and developer-friendly, with intuitive content authoring tools and robust APIs. It supports content previewing, version control, and content localization out of the box. 

Some of its key features include: 

  • Multi-language support – Create content once and automatically translate it into multiple languages for global audiences. 
  • Flexible templating – Choose from a wide range of templates or create your own to deliver customized digital experiences quickly and easily. 
  • Robust API support – Integrate with any backend system using Contentstack’s robust APIs. 
  • Cloud hosting with global CDN – Host content on the cloud for faster delivery across multiple devices worldwide.

Pros of Contentstack: 

  • Has a rich set of SDKs and RESTful APIs for major languages making web and application development easier
  • Work independently as a content manager as you do not need to involve developers to create, manage, and publish content
  • Flexible templating for content creators and developers 

Cons of Contentstack: 

  • Does not have native commerce capabilities
  • Creating content to suit your needs and modifying already created content types is challenging
  • Pricing starts at $995 monthly with more comprehensive plans going for $4,500 and above
  • The steep learning curve for content creators and developers who are unfamiliar with Contentstack 

6. Magnolia

Founded in 1997, Magnolia is a Swiss-based content management system that offers organizations a headless enterprise CMS with an integrated personalization platform and modular architecture for efficient channel administration.

With Magnolia, you can choose between an on-prem or cloud hosting plan. In addition to REST and Java APIs, users benefit from the ease of integrated Commercetools, Netlify, and Salesforce platforms. In addition, light modules are accessible through GitHub, npm, and Maven for a convenient solution tailored to your project needs.

Some of the high-ranking corporations that use Magnolia include Nissan, American Express, and The New York Times. 

Here are some of its coveted functions:

  • Customizable workflows
  • A/B testing
  • Multi-site management and data analytics
  • WYSIWYG and single-page app editing  

Pros of Magnolia: 

  • Relatively affordable at $299 monthly
  • Support is responsive and comprehensive
  • Offers live content previews
  • Ready-to-use ‘connector packs and personalization is available for enterprise clients
  • Cloud and on-prem hosting options 

Cons of Magnolia:

  • The layout is complicated for non-technical users
  • Setting up a project takes longer and it can be overwhelming to configure

Selecting the Right CMS for Your Company

As you can see, there are numerous options when it comes to CMS platforms. So, it’s about more than choosing the best overall solution but the one that best suits your business. In this regard, consider the following:

  • Your content strategy – Think about your content needs and how you intend to use and manage content in the long run. 
  • Flexibility – Consider the content management system’s flexibility and scalability as your content needs may evolve. 
  • Platform – Do you intend to work with a cloud or on-premise content management system? 
  • Features – Investigate the content management system’s features and functions to determine whether they meet your content goals.
  • Security – As content is valuable, ensure the content management system you choose offers top-notch security. 
  • Budget – Lastly, don’t forget to consult your budget when making a final choice. 

By considering all these factors, you can choose a content management system that meets your content needs and goals. 

A Solution for Your Unique Needs

Headless content management systems offer content creators and developers the flexibility to create enterprise content solutions that are tailored to their content needs. 

With a headless content management system, you can quickly and easily deploy content on any digital device while developers are empowered with robust APIs for content integration.

While numerous options are available, you can have one designed specifically for your company. Practical Logix is a custom software development firm offering unparalleled eCommerce application development. We help content creators and developers to build content-driven digital applications tailored to their content needs. 

Our cloud application development services integrate content in a secure, flexible, and powerful content management system. We handle content development while you focus on creating content that speaks to your customer’s unique needs. 

Get in touch with us today for content management system development services tailored to meet your content needs. 

Paresh Khandelwal is a PMP Certified seasoned Technical Project Manager at Practical Logix. With his exceptional quality of maintaining client relationships helps to strengthen the bond between our Clients and us. He has a business first mindset which in-turn leads to a keen eye for the budget and revenue and Quality control for the projects. Being a CSM he follows the agile methodology which is an asset to keep us in line with the current trends in Project Management, along with the traditional Waterfall model.

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