Headless CMS: Break Free From Traditional CMS' Limitations

By 45/RPM Staff


Traditional CMS was designed to make it easier to upload content to a single source, which was great for a period of time- not so much anymore. The problem with traditional CMS is it was not designed to upload to the multiple devices and formats that we have today. Managing all digital entry points and accurately analyzing data from multiple sources is difficult and crucial to understanding the consumer decision-making process and journey. A headless CMS approach facilitates this process and outperforms traditional CMS in terms of content management, functionality flexibility, and overall website performance. 

Data and Content Collection 

Website and app user experiences increasingly pull content and data from multiple sources. These sources can include broad functions like: marketing automation, location services, content personalization, a/b and UX testing, social media, blogs, and ecommerce. 

There are also a number of other data sources that are specific to verticals such as: 

  • In media and publishing - enterprise content management, subscription and account management, CDNs 
  • In restaurants - loyalty, ordering, delivery, account management 
  • In ecommerce - tailored product offerings, subscriptions, rapid payment processing, ‘transactional’ emails  

The data from these sources is the key to understanding your business and creating effective and successful digital experiences. 


Headless vs. Traditional CMS  

What makes managing and interpreting data and content from numerous sources simpler, plus has high site performance and flexibility? Headless CMS. 

Headless CMS

  • A headless CMS decouples the logic and management of web content from the website's display, providing a high level of flexibility (in both content and technologies) and performance. Another benefit of some cloud headless CMS is they don't require an infrastructure (i.e a server), the whole application is managed by the CMS provider which removes the hassle of keeping the server and the software up-to-date because that is the job of the provider.

Traditional CMS

  • A traditional CMS treats pages (or, in some cases, content blocks) as the primary management units and are designed, largely, to support page-level content management and modifications. They also limit users to a specific platform/language to build custom templates, which is not always very developer friendly.


While headless CMSs are exceptional at providing content management and a high level of performance for simple sites, their real value is that the underlying architecture treats websites as tailored experiences that do (and should) draw content, information, and functionality from multiple sources. 

Underlying Architecture and Value Prop of Headless  

Decoupling the presentation of the website from management of the content means that the content can more easily be drawn from multiple sources using APIs (e.g. REST, GraphQL) and then assembled to create an enhanced user experience. 

It also means that content that lives in the CMS can be published out to more places than just the website. This is increasingly important for consumer brands whose loyal customers access them not through the website but through the app or other mobile experiences. 

Headless CMSs can simultaneously publish content to:

  • Websites
  • Mobile experiences 
  • Apps 
  • Email marketing and CRM 
  • Other platforms brands use to manage their customers and content 

Our Headless Experience  

Our experience with the ‘headless’ approach started  before it  was even formalized as a term. Our first headless deployment used a Drupal shell and JavaScript microservices to read an array of content and data including:

  • Account level subscription service
  • Tailored end user areas of interest
  • A vast library of current news and analysis 
  • Historical records analysis

All this source content allowed us to deliver a highly personalized experience for an industry publisher. 

The Headless Options Today 

There are new platforms that make deploying headless architectures faster and less complicated including:

  • Contentful 
  • Prismic
  • Sanity (logos) 
  • Plus publishing tools like Netlify , Gatsby Cloud(logo). 
  • WordPress’s REST/ GraphQL API 

They provide out-of-the-box functionality that supports both the generation and publishing of content used on the website and in apps or in campaigns while providing an API framework to ease the integration of other platforms and sources.  

A headless CMS system has a more intuitive admin experience and the technical flexibility for digital experiences to evolve. Users also receive a more tailored experience plus exceptional website performance. Having a website that pleases users and site admins is simply a no brainer.

Take the first step to adopt a headless CMS website.