An introduction to headless CMS

Headless CMSs are content management systems without a front-end. Instead, a super intelligent back-end repository communicates with any number of devices or channels through its use of an open API layer. In this blog, we’ll introduce you to the technology and explain why it’s a must for brands in today’s world.

Where has Headless CMS come from?


Headless CMS has been known within digital circles for a couple of years, but it’s only now that we are really starting to see the technology come into its own. Why now? Because of changing customer demands.

Digital technologies have been ubiquitous since the 1990s. However, what we don’t usually talk about is how this has affected customer expectations. For instance, people born in the 1990s have only ever known life in the digital world, so naturally, they have higher digital standards than many businesses realise.

How does this link to headless CMS? By removing the front-end from the back-end, headless CMS is purpose-built to take advantage of this increase in customer expectations. Below we’ll show you the key benefits of how headless does this.

Enhanced flexibility for creative UX

Increased customer expectations are characterised by the ever-growing multi-channel. Customers today demand consistent User Experiences across all a business’ touchpoints, whether that be a website, a mobile app, a chatbot, a wearable and so on.

The traditional style of CMS – where the front-end and back-end are tied together – is now ill-equipped to handle this ever-growing multi-channel, because its architecture makes it difficult to replicate the format of the content on the different front-end applications.

But in a headless CMS, the decoupling of the front-end from the back-end means that the content isn’t tied into any code, as seen in fig. 1. Headless CMS, therefore, empowers designers and UX specialists to be innovative and agile with their designs to meet the changing demands of this increased multi-channel. You can learn more about the difference between front-end and back-end in our blog.

Figure 1: Comparison of Monolithic and Headless architectures. A Monolithic CMS is self-contained and inflexible, whereas a Headless Architecture allows you to use whichever parts of your digital estate are relevant to any given application, and to improve or add new functionality and applications more easily.

Freedom to scale your business the way you want

Headless CMS is easier to scale, which is particularly beneficial for less digitally mature businesses. The removal of a hardcoded front-end means you can bolt on a variety of different options to your headless CMS, and you can do so at a pace that suits you.

For less digitally mature businesses, this might start with consistent content that appears on your website and your app. Then once your business is ready, you can start to add more components to your digital estate like personalisation, search, loyalty, digital asset management or marketing automation.

Peace of mind with content secured on the cloud

If your business wants to survive in the modern world, your content and assets need to be secure. Headless CMS guarantees this security with its cloud-native structure. All pieces of your brands content, whether that be webpages, blogs, videos and so on are safely stored on the cloud.

Most importantly, this means your assets are less vulnerable to attack. But it also means that your assets are accessible to a wide range of internal and external stakeholders and enables your teams to edit and manage the content without risking the distortion of any front-end designs.

A faster to market solution that delivers while you build

It’s no secret that if you want your business to thrive, your business needs to be in tune digitally. However, for too long the problem has been the cost of digital transformation and proving that the investment is worthwhile.

In the past, most businesses have achieved this through a big bang digital transformation, in which they do everything at once. This type of transformation is extremely costly and isn’t always the most effective route to success, as seen in figure 2 below.

Figure 2: Timelines for the delivery of Monolithic and Headless projects. This shows that a Monolithic approach can typically take between one and two years to start returning value, compared to 6-8 months for a Headless approach.


The headless approach delivers faster time-to-value by flipping this problem on its head and enabling businesses to deliver insight driven digital transformation iteratively. Implementing headless iteratively proves its worth and delivers the returns you need faster while also allowing for a steady extinction of legacy digital assets at the same time.

For a more detailed rundown of the benefits of headless, either visit our headless hub, or read our other free resources including this whitepaper introduction to headless CMS.

Profound works with leading brands to improve their digital experiences. Our expertise helps clients understand how to prioritise their user experience goals to deliver the most valuable improvements in the fastest turnaround. Contact us today to learn how we can help you make the most of headless CMS.