The Pros and Cons of Headless & Hybrid CMS

We live in an era where content is as valuable as gold, from the Tiktok influencer to the enterprise blog, nobody can escape content creation. Having the right tools to create such content is critical to be able to deliver it everywhere, anytime and in great shape.

If you do a search for "headless content management system," all you'll see are articles talking about its advantages and benefits. But is it really the best choice for your business?Key Takeaways

  • Headless CMS is a revolution. No doubt.
  • An API-first CMS offers flexibility and freedom.
  • Headless is composable by nature and perfect for complex architectures.
  • Headless is not for everyone: no preview options, higher cost, need for front-end designer.
  • Hybrid CMS is the answer: the best of both worlds.

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What is a Headless CMS?

A headless Content Management System is a backend-only content management system. It gets its name from its structure: the CMS' head (front end) is separate from the body (back end). This detached style of CMS was originally developed to deliver content to non-browser systems like applications for phones and internet-of-things (IoT) devices. 

Today, it's becoming a popular alternative to traditional CMS tools because it allows you to create highly tailored content to the individual's needs. With no default front-end system, a headless CMS can deliver content to multiple platforms, allowing you to select where and how to present your content instead of relying on a templating system. 

Because your content is raw, you can publish it anywhere, through any framework, which is helpful for omnichannel content efforts. 

  Shows the difference between Traditional cms and headless cms highlighting the API approach to back-end and front-end with multichannel

How does Headless CMS work?

A traditional CMS becomes headless when an application programming interface (API) is included. A headless CMS serves content via APIs, which is also called API-first content management system. 

Detaching the database from the presentation layer makes content easy to deliver. A developer retrieves the content stored in the back-end via the API and sends it to your app or device. Companies usually rely on a headless CMS when they want to serve dynamic content to other entities. 

 A headless CMS allows you to share the same content on different websites, such as a product description if you're selling the same thing on multiple storefronts. It's great for managing a single content database while sharing it in numerous places. 

To recap, the structure of a headless CMS platform includes three components: a content database, the content management backend, and an API to send your backend content to whatever frontends (application or device) you choose. This allows you to easily transfer the same content to different channels while removing the need for maintaining a delivery system for each channel

  Illustrate how headless can help create omnichannel customer experiences

What are the advantages of a Headless CMS?

The primary shortcoming of using a traditional CMS is that it is not cross-platform and can only be used as a web application. With a headless CMS, you can: 

  • Reusability: Repurpose the content of a blog across channels and systems (i.e., inside a mobile app or another application). With an API, you can efficiently distribute content across linked platforms. A Headless CMS can deliver a fluid online experience for users, whether viewing your content on your website, in a native app, or wearable device. 
  • Composability: Design the elements of your blog in different content structures, depending on the blog post. Headless CMSs are design-agnostic, enabling you to structure your content to better serve it across multiple platforms and devices. Marketers and developers alike will rejoice. 
  • Full content control: Headless systems can programmatically capture and manipulate the content. (i.e., select and edit a section of the information, change the proportion of images, etc. 
  • Improved Functionality: A headless CMS can show customized content across various channels and will boost speed more than WordPress. A speedier website or application ensures you can secure better conversion rates, which benefits business development. 
  •       Ecommerce business guide

    How to Choose a CMS: The Ultimate Guide (With Bonus Checklist To Ask Your Vendor)

    The definitive guide to choosing the right CMS for your business plus bonus questions and checklist to ask your CMS vendor.

  • Easy Editing Capabilities:Headless CMS separates code from content, so editors can ignore the code and focus on the text. All updates are delivered to all digital assets and allow you to reuse and mix material. Also, API-delivered content is the best for integrating, altering, and disseminating, helping to speed up the creation of content-driven sites and apps.
  • Developer-approved: Developers can leverage the newest tools and frameworks to create content experiences on any modern platform without being limited by a proprietary language or traditional CMS. Since your developers will utilize APIs to get content, they don't require a CMS-specific template or ineffective frameworks. 
  • Enhanced Flexibility and Scalability: Using a headless CMS allows you to create a front-end framework that is appropriate for your project. Also, the separation of the back and front-ends enables easy scaling. A headless CMS also eliminates downtime during maintenance. Furthermore, the material given via APIs is easier to maintain and distribute without interfering with the functionality of your website. 
  • Better Security: Relying on APIs gives your site a security boost because it can hide behind one or more layers of code. Because the publishing platform can't be accessed via the database, the headless CMS reduces DDoS attacks. Also, access is restricted to the organization, and content can be encrypted and/or decrypted. 

It all sounds great doesn’t it! So where is the trap?

What are the limits of a Headless CMS?

While headless CMS is popular for many reasons, it might not be the solution for every business. 

  • More Labor intensive: The flexibility that makes headless cms great can also be a disadvantage for some businesses. A front-end developer is needed to design your platforms across the different channels you will be using. For small businesses, headless might not make sense. Headless makes more sense for more complex business. 
  • No preview for Marketers: A pure headless CMS lacks the option to preview the content you are creating. This is a big turn off for most, if not all marketers. Not having that presentation layer means going in blind when it comes to publishing content. This is one of the major issues with pure headless. 
  • More advantageous for complex architectures:Some businesses just don’t need headless. Whether you are a small business or just operate in one country, via one channel, having headless will just mean more resources and cost without taking advantage of all its benefits. 

What is a Hybrid CMS?

Yes, the ingenious brains we talked about before brought us the best of both worlds: The Hybrid CMS, the better, more perfected version of headless. 

A hybrid CMS is a headless CMS with back-end customization. You can add preview options to your content, you can integrate 3rd party services for extra features and you can create a marketers/ content editor user-friendly environment. 

With hybrid CMS, developers and marketers are finally on the same page. The freedom and flexibility of headless is also translated into an easy to use, editable and versatile platform that supports scaling content management across multiple brands, languages, and countries.

Hybrid CMS explained in video

What are the advantages of a Hybrid CMS?

A hybrid content management system (CMS) combines the best features of both traditional website builders and full-featured content management systems.

  • Flexibility of a website builder with the power of a CMS:A hybrid content management system allows users to add pages and posts to their site without having to know any coding knowledge. It offers both a visual editor and a drag-and-drop interface hybrid is your answer. You are able to customize your site's look and feel right from the beginning.
  • WYSIWYG authoring: On top of the Headless content management, Hybrid cms also offers all the content authoring the marketers love: 
    • Preview capabilities 
    • Template management, 
    • Website navigation, 
    • Multisite management, 
    • SEO,
    • Drag and drop features,
    • Version management.
  • API-first system: Both pure headless and hybrid CMS are API-driven offering you the ease of integration with all 3rd party platforms.
  • Developers and Marketers collaborate: hybrid content management system (CMS) that unites both marketing-powered experiences and developer-driven innovation.    


Hybrid content management software bridges the gap between developers and marketers. It offer the benefits and flexibility of headless but with the preview option and content capabilities marketers love.

You can learn more about Headless CMS by downloading the guide below 👇

      Ecommerce business guide

How to Choose a CMS: The Ultimate Guide (With Bonus Checklist To Ask Your Vendor)

The definitive guide to choosing the right CMS for your business plus bonus questions and checklist to ask your CMS vendor.

Core dna team
Core dna team

Articles written by various members of our team.

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