Top 12 Headless Content Management Systems

Today, customers are actively seeking to communicate with brands through a variety of channels and gadgets.

However, traditional content management systems (CMS) and content creation tools for each new channel are no longer a promising strategy and are unable to provide the flexibility required.

In this regard, companies of all sizes are increasingly moving to the use of headless CMS, known as SaaS platforms, in order to improve the speed and adaptability of their digital experiences. In our article, we're going to take a look at 12 of the best headless CMS options that are both efficient and easy to use.

Headless CMS

A content management system is probably the most important piece of software for any publisher. That's why there are so many types of CMS. But out of all the CMS, two types are the most famous: API-based CMS and traditional CMS. Here, we will discuss API-based CMS as they are more flexible, scalable, and secure than traditional CMS. Therefore, before reviewing the best of the best choices, let's explore the peculiarities of this CMS.

An API-based CMS is a type of headless CMS that serves content via an API. This allows developers to completely separate the content from the presentation. This means that you get the data as it is structured, but it's up to you to decide how you will work with that content.  APIs allow different software applications to communicate with each other. They come in four types (public or open, partnership, private, and combined) and have different architectures. If you are looking for the perfect solution for your project, we have prepared for you the top 12 contenders in this field.

1. Storyblock
Github stars: 305
G2 stars: 4.5
G2 reviews: 336SSG: All

Storyblok is a CMS that gives developers all the flexibility they need to create fast websites. Storyblok has a robust plugin system that gives you the ability to extend your editor with customizable fields, such as a color picker or a Google maps location picker. You can also write your own plugins. If a large team is working on a project, PM has the option to create access control lists to ensure secure publishing and prevent unauthorized changes. The system can be configured to manually or automatically back up your content on a daily basis.

2. Strapi
Github stars: 55904
G2 stars: 4.5
G2 reviews: 168SSG: All

Strapi stands as an open-source platform, with its entire source code accessible to the public and actively maintained on GitHub by a thriving community of contributors. It offers effortless customization for both the API and the admin panel, enabling you to expand your content management capabilities swiftly through the integration of custom plugins. With Strapi, managing content types is a breeze, allowing you to easily create, edit, and oversee them. Additionally, you can seamlessly incorporate third-party services and persist in developing applications while maintaining a strong connection to the framework.

3. Squidex
Github stars: 2001
G2 stars: -
G2 reviews: -SSG: All

Squidex is a special option of headless CMS that gives you full control over your data. Squidex has an intuitive UI, flexible data modeling capabilities. Effortlessly oversee the content approval process, guaranteeing quality and uniformity prior to publication. Additionally, keep tabs on content revisions, providing the capability to revert to prior versions when required.

4. Flextype
Github stars: 558
G2 stars: -
G2 reviews: -SSG: All

Flextype is a new generation of the Monstra and Fansoro engine. The engine is as simple and extensible as possible, almost any task can be realized by plugins, as the engine provides an amazingly simple API for plugin and theme developers. The engine is divided into independent and constantly updated Flextype Components. Flextype pages are simple files written using YAML and Markdown syntax, which are stored in the folder: /site/pages. Whether you aim to build a headless, conventional, or a hybrid CMS, Flextype has all the necessary features at your disposal. Flextype eliminates the need for a relational database management system by storing all data in straightforward flat files.

5. Directus
Github stars: 23068
G2 stars: 5
G2 reviews: 24SSG: All

Directus is an open source CMS that is great for projects that require customized databases. Written with backbone.js, the public API uses REST. Like other traditional CMS tools, it is PHP-based; so developers will be comfortable working with this scripting language if they are familiar with it. Directus also works with unique database configurations and complex data structures.

6. Sanity
Github stars: 4566
G2 stars: 4.7
G2 reviews: 688SSG: All

Sanity stands out as a leading headless CMS in the industry, with a strong track record of adoption by notable organizations like Nike, Figma, National Geographic, and many more. Its extensive customization options, open-source support, diverse plugin ecosystem, and the ability to craft custom components make it a versatile choice. Developers have the flexibility to tailor the editing interface using JavaScript and React, and the backend seamlessly integrates with powerful APIs and advanced data modeling features. This combination of features empowers organizations to create tailored content management solutions that meet their unique needs.

7. Umbraco
Github stars: 1992
G2 stars: 4.4
G2 reviews: 623SSG: All

Umbraco is a free and open source tool, which runs on Microsoft's ASP.NET platform and is in the process of being migrated to .NET Core. Umbraco is running more than 500,000 websites worldwide, including:,, Immediately after installation you get the ability to store and edit almost any data used on the network, it is also possible to quickly set the types of stored documents, their properties and hierarchy.

8. Payload CMS
Github stars: 12045
G2 stars: 4.8
G2 reviews: 48SSG: All

Payload is a free, open-source, headless CMS aimed at providing the best experience for developers in building APIs and admin interfaces. It increases the efficiency and value of developers' work by providing extensible REST and GraphQL APIs, as well as a great React admin panel for non-technical users to manage content - all in TypeScript.

9. Contenta
Github stars: 327
G2 stars: -
G2 reviews: -SSG: All

Contenta CMS is a headless platform based on Drupal and available as a Drupal distribution. It is a completely free and open source software in which the developers have compiled a variety of modules that you can use when building your website, applying their best practices to solve typical tasks and problems. You can position your Contenta CMS installation as you need it. This allows you to choose the best setup for your use case (choose CDN, hosting provider, etc.).

10. Ghost
Github stars: 43 928
G2 stars: 4.1
G2 reviews: 38SSG: All

Ghost was founded in 2013 based on a successful Kickstarter campaign, making it one of the newest CMS platforms to date. Written in JavaScript, Ghost uses "integrations" to refer to what other CMSs call plugins or extensions. The platform's SEO-friendly features and responsive design are ideal for attracting and retaining readers. Ghost also offers membership and subscription support for monetizing content.

11. Bloomreach
Github stars: 1311
G2 stars: 4.7
G2 reviews: 499SSG: All

Bloomreach is a platform that helps businesses build personalized customer journey maps and use a number of other marketing technologies. In particular, it offers tools for creating and managing content, attracting and engaging audiences, and optimizing business with AI recommendations. Bloomreach is used by more than 850 global brands, including Bosch, Puma, Marks & Spencer, and many others.

12. Contentful
Github stars: 1083
G2 stars: 4.2
G2 reviews: 288SSG: All

Contentful is a commercial API that ensures the security of purchases in digital environments. This service is a recognized leader in the creation of e-commerce websites and mobile applications, which already helps well-known brands such as Chilly's, Rapha, and Brioni. With Contentful, it is possible to add easy-to-use enterprise-level tools to the site, which greatly simplifies the work of web developers and site administrators.

Headless CMS vs traditional CMS

As we have already mentioned, two different approaches have emerged in the content management world: Headless CMS and Traditional CMS. Each has its own set of advantages and features. Let's take a look at their differences:

Traditional CMS Headless CMS
Hosting & delivery In-house In the cloud
Development mindset Project-focused Product-focused
Content model Built for a single page Building block for many products
Supported devices Limited Limitless
Reach One-to-one One-to-many
Workflow Waterfall Agile
Updates Scheduled Continuous
Backend system Monolithic, all-in-one Microservice, best-in-class
Investment Large up-front cost Quick proof of concept
Technical debt Inherent to the system Managed

In conclusion, the choice between a traditional and headless CMS depends on the specific needs of your project. Traditional CMS platforms provide simplicity and usability for basic websites, but may limit flexibility and scalability for more complex, content-rich applications. Headless CMS systems, on the other hand, provide the flexibility and customizability needed to create dynamic, multi-channel services. They allow developers to create customized solutions and content teams to focus on content creation.

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