Headless CMS Explained - Want Help Determining if Headless CMS Is the Right Fit for You?

Technical Advice - 17.02.23
Purple graphic with the words Traditional CMS vs Headless CMS

Content marketing is hugely important for business growth. If you look at this Semrush survey it shows that 97% of respondents claimed content played a key role in their overall marketing strategy in 2021. Therefore choosing a CMS with the capability to meet all of your content creation needs will help your content marketing strategy be more successful. 

But which type of CMS should you choose? ūü§Ē

CMS Categories 

There are hundreds of CMS providers in the market but there are only 2 main categories of CMS ‚Äď a traditional CMS or a headless CMS.¬†

A traditional CMS like WordPress accounts for 62.3% of the CMS market and there are lots of good options in this space to manage content and create a website. But headless is the fastest-growing website CMS technology in the market and if content is a core part of your growth strategy, a headless CMS can help deliver even greater results for your business. 

But to understand what a headless CMS is, it helps to first look at what a traditional CMS is. 

What is a traditional CMS?

A traditional CMS is a single system that includes both the back end (the code, database/content and server) and the front end (what the user sees and interacts with). It‚Äôs a monolithic and all-in-one architecture where everything is tightly bound together ‚Äď which isn‚Äôt always a good thing.¬†

Because the system is so intrinsically linked together, each element which makes up the website (eg. code, server or database) become highly dependent on each other. This means if one individual element experiences a glitch it can impact your website’s entire ability to function properly. 

A traditional CMS also usually requires the use of a specific framework or language. This results in the need for CMS-specific developers, as well as additional maintenance costs and reduced flexibility. 

What is a headless CMS? 

A headless CMS refers to ‚Äėthe head‚Äô, which is the front end. What differentiates a headless CMS is that the front end (what the user interacts with) is completely separated from the back end (the CMS that stores the content).¬†

A headless CMS is a back-end only content repository. Sometimes also known as a decoupled CMS, it only has one purpose ‚Äď to store and deliver content to any platform (such as a website or mobile app), via an API.¬†

Because the CMS is not bound to any specific technology, developers are free to use any front-end language or framework to build the front-end interface.

Traditional CMS vs Headless CMS graphic in purple and white

Headless CMS benefits

A headless CMS is better if you publish content regularly or across multiple platforms. And there are many benefits if you do choose a headless CMS solution as we have highlighted on our landing page.

  • Speed A lighter code makes the CMS faster providing an exceptional user experience.¬†

  • Security Your content is stored in the CMS which is separate from the front-end website that is visible to the user making the CMS less penetrable to attack.

  • Flexibility You can configure your website more easily to meet the needs of your content marketing strategy.¬†

  • Scalability You can evolve your website and grow your content creation efforts as and when you need.¬†

  • SEO friendly A site that loads fast, is technically strong and with optimised content will be favoured by search engines.¬†

  • Lower carbon An optimised hosting solution and lighter codebase mean that your website uses less electricity to serve web pages to users. Less electricity means a lower carbon footprint.

But let’s explore these benefits and others in more depth to help you determine if a headless content management system is the best fit for you.  

Omnichannel satisfaction

One strong value proposition of a headless CMS is that it enables marketers to deliver content stored in one content repository to multiple channels such as websites, mobiles, smartwatches and the IoT.

The content is accessible using an API (application programming interface) so you can display your content wherever you like and provide you with the capability to reach a wider audience across multiple channels. 

Blazing-fast page download speeds

When you make a content change in a headless CMS, the API is used to fetch the content from the CMS then generate a pre-rendered version of the website or app. This means that the underlying code that displays the front-end website is lighter and more efficient than the traditional model, which will result in faster page load speeds. A faster and higher performing website in turn delivers better rankings, faster editing and improved UX.


A headless CMS is the perfect solution when you expect your website to evolve over time or where you plan to expand your content marketing efforts. The CMS can handle lots of data and deliver web pages speedily helping you build better content experiences at scale. 

A headless CMS also has the ability to deploy to other channels in the future if needed. Or in the case where a website rebuild is needed in the future, there may no longer be a need to change or even rebuild CMS, only the front end. 

Enhanced security 

The CMS where your content is stored is separate to the website that is displayed to the user. This removes key website security threats such as SQL injection, ensuring peace of mind for your IT team. 

With a headless solution, cyber-attacks are significantly reduced because there is only one access point for attackers ‚Äď through the CMS itself. Also, if your headless CMS is SaaS, it will automatically update in the background, thereby increasing your overall website security.¬†


A headless CMS will provide greater agility to add new layers of functionality on top of existing ones which means you can easily increase your content creation efforts to enhance campaign performance. 

A headless CMS also delivers a user interface that enables marketers to edit, manage and publish content faster and more efficiently. Editors can collaborate on content more seamlessly and build rich user experiences without any need for developer help. And a great UX journey will increase engagement and improve your ranking on Google. 

Also, some solutions like Storyblok offer an Inline editing experience, making it easier for non-technical people to edit, update and manage content. You can also develop landing pages quickly to meet campaign demands. 

SEO Ready 

A headless CMS website that is built to support marketing teams, with fast-loading pages and optimised for multiple devices is regarded as SEO-ready. This means that all the key elements are set up for search engines to find your website more easily. 

An SEO-ready checklist includes things like keyword research, internal linking, optimised meta titles and meta descriptions and well-optimised content as well as carrying out regular maintenance to ensure your website is technically strong. 

Lower Carbon 

With around 4.6 billion internet users, Storyblok reports the internet's contribution to the world's yearly carbon emissions is approx 4% which is more than the entire airline industry! What's more these figures are to double by 2025. 

So although a headless CMS still uses electricity, the lighter code base and cloud-based hosting solution result in less electricity, thereby reducing your website’s carbon footprint. 


Every business is different but our headless CMS of choice is Storyblok. We feel it delivers greater design freedom for our clients from both a content marketing and management perspective and the automatic upgrades mean your website will keep performing at peak capacity without you needing to manually carry out updates. 

As passionate content creators, we love using a headless CMS solution. A headless CMS website has the capability to expand functionality to meet our needs and makes managing, editing and publishing content so easy, helping us to deliver fast, reliable digital platforms for our clients and create better user journeys.