Knowledge Center

Headless CMS

Learn about how a headless CMS benefits businesses by giving you ultimate flexibility in how to manage and present your content.

A headless CMS (content management system) is a modern architecture that bifurcates the frontend experience from the backend data. The benefits include more flexibility, more control, and that the data can power any frontend experience.

Simply, a headless CMS separates where content is stored from where it's presented. Why? Well, like many pieces of technology, the traditional CMS had to evolve to better meet the needs of developers, content creators, and consumers. In this case, the headless CMS evolved to help businesses use their content over multiple platforms and device formats without the limitations of monolithic architecture — where the backend and frontend of your website are inseparable. In essence, a headless CMS lets you build, configure, and reconfigure content however you want quickly and easily.

A monolithic CMS functions in-house and is designed for a single website, while a headless CMS works as a building block for several other company owned websites and third-party digital experiences. In other words, the reach of a headless CMS is farther and wider — one block of content to many channels, such as to mobile or social channels — while a traditional CMS is one-to-one.

To fully understand how a headless CMS works, you need to know what an API (application programming interface) integration is. They're the magic link between the backend and frontend. Since the headless CMS's main purpose is to store your content, you need a method for connecting and displaying that content in the channel and format you want. API integrations let you deliver your content efficiently by acting as the conduit. And they can do it across as many channels as you need quickly and accurately. Think of APIs as the intermediaries between software systems and applications that allow them to communicate.

Despite being a relatively new technology, headless CMS is being adopted at a rapid rate. The need for headless CMS is increasing since brands are showing up across more first and third-party touchpoints, making it necessary to have a single source of truth to manage data so it's consistent across all your touchpoints. Plus, it's a solution that offers numerous benefits, including optimizing the customer experience throughout their lifecycle. For example, a financial institution may use a headless CMS to show current promotions within a personal banking experience. Or, a cruise line could use a headless CMS to create an omnichannel experience across a fleet of ships. Passengers could receive personalized, real-time information on multiple devices in the language of their choice.

Yext offers a headless CMS. Learn more here, or discover other products that help brands, like how you can unlock actionable insights with Analytics.

Related terms: