7 Best Headless CMS Platforms – Top 2023 Software

Choosing the right headless CMS platform is crucial for your digital strategy in 2023.

This guide reviews 7 leading headless CMS platforms, followed by my top 4 recommendations. Following this guide, you can confidently select the CMS that best suits your business requirements.

Best Overall & SEO



Complete control over content operations and experience, with standout SEO features.

Read review
Best for Small Business


sanity logo

Treats content as building blocks with endless reusability – Actionable and scalable across your business.

Read review
Best for Growth


contentful logo

Build experiences that drive your business forward with the scalable, composable content.

Read review
Best Open Source


strapi logo2

Strapi is the leading open-source headless CMS. It’s 100% JavaScript and fully customizable.

Read review

Headless content management systems started to gain traction in the mid-2010s with early pioneers like Contentful and revolutionized traditional content management systems and user engagement across diverse channels.

Yet, businesses wrestle with their complexity. Many remain unsatisfied with their CMS capabilities and encounter steep learning curves due to intricate tech stacks. A 2021 Content Management & Strategy Survey from the Content Marketing Institute reported that only 25% of respondents have the right technology to manage their content across their enterprise.

Additionally, integrating these platforms with existing tools ranks is the top challenge for B2B marketers, as captured by 56% of the respondents.

In this guide, we’ll demystify each headless CMS platform, spotlighting its pros and cons and guiding you through the bustling landscape of headless CMS.

What is the Best Headless CMS?

When evaluating headless CMS platforms, I considered scalability, ease of use, development speed, and the specific features valuable to certain market segments and purposes like: Ecommerce platforms, small business, blogging, and media files and SEO.

After testing tons of Headless CMS systems and scouring the four corners of the internet and tech forums for other user experiences, here are my picks for the Best Headless CMS this year:


Best Headless CMS for SEO

Kontent.ai headless CMC logo

My Take

Kontent is a data-driven, user-focused CMS, offering exceptional SEO benefits for mid-tier to large businesses. Boosting website performance and SEO rankings with features like structured data management, it integrates with tools like SEMrush. Loved by Vogue and Starbucks, its superior support and payment flexibility justify the premium pricing.

4.8 out of 5
Best ForBest Overall / Best SEO
PromotionFree Trial

Kontent is an exceptional content management platform meticulously crafted to cater to its users. Its data-driven approach provides unbeatable SEO support and seamless integration with powerful tools like SEMrush.

It has impressive features that enhance website performance, manage structured content and data, and significantly improve visibility, user experience, and search engine ranking.

Here’s why it’s the best headless CMS for SEO:

  • User-First Content: Kontent focuses on user-centric content to improve website ranking and improve bounce rate and social shares.

  • Data-Driven Planning: Kontent’s content strategies rely on data, including keyword research and user context, to ensure relevance to the audience.

  • SEO Tools Integration: Kontent integrates with SEO tools such as SEMrush, enhancing SEO efforts through in-app keyword insights.

  • Technical SEO Support: Kontent provides comprehensive SEO support, handling URL structure, metadata, heading tags, sitemap.xml, alt text, canonical tags, and indexing.

  • Speed and Responsiveness: Kontent uses a static site generator for speedy websites and supports responsive design for enhanced user experience across devices.

  • SEO Enhancements: Kontent improves website performance and SEO with features like breadcrumbs, CSS/JS/HTML minification, compression, and caching.

  • Structured Data Management: Kontent allows straightforward implementation of structured data, boosting SERP visibility and improving SEO without additional content-type fields.

Key Features

But beyond these SEO-enhancing elements, Kontent’s headless CMS is feature rich and boasts:

  • Cloud-based SaaS & Scalability: Ensures a global reach, high availability, and enterprise-level scalability.

  • Security & Data Governance: Provides robust security and enables localized control over content creation and translation.

  • Multichannel Support: Structures content to fit any channel or device for effective content reuse.

  • Real-Time Collaboration & Workflow Management: Facilitates real-time collaboration and offers custom workflows and role-based approvals for rapid, error-free content delivery.

  • Modular Content & Collections: Reflects team structure and centralizes control over operations through content grouping.

  • Interactive Authoring Experience: Features visual feedback with Web Spotlight, an adaptive authoring interface, and a built-in library for asset management.

  • Customizability & Granular Permissions: Delivers custom content models, UI elements, user roles, and detailed user action permissions.

  • Omnichannel Delivery & Integration: Supports content delivery across all devices and channels for consistent experiences and allows seamless integration with other tools.

User Resources

Kontent provides a robust library of user documents and tutorials to set up and use the headless CMS system.

Kontent's user resources include setup, import, composition, integration and much more.

The Kontent.ai community offers a supportive platform for users to exchange ideas and gain knowledge. With an array of resources like GitHub, Stack Overflow, tutorials, documentation, social media, and blogs, there’s something for everyone.

Kontent's community is a place to exchange ideas and best practices.

Pricing Structure

Kontent.ai offers three pricing tiers, including a Free plan that provides access to all APIs and SDKs for popular frameworks.

Unfortunately, pricing is unpublished and is determined by client fit to the Scale or Enterprise plans. My research indicates pricing for the non-free version starts at around $2500/month.

Credit card payment is accepted during the free trial period or after it expires, and you can prepay with check or wire transfer for the paid plans.

5fda7c4f e89c 4e90 87c8 c24942aad5b5

What I Like and Dislike About Kontent


  • Free one-on-one demos with product experts

  • Trusted and used by global brands like Vogue, Starbucks, and Santander.

  • Top-notch 24 x 7 customer support.

  • Permits unlimited collections in the Scale and Enterprise plans.

  • Flexible payment options.

  • They provide free product events, webinars, and tons of learning documents.

  • Supports over 70 languages.


  • Non-transparent pricing.

  • A bit pricier than the other headless cms platforms, targeting mid to high-tier companies.

  • Limited editability of content columns (can’t combine/merge or configure).

  • Need to rely on developers for basic changes for features that would be out of the box for other CMS solutions.

  • Some website management functionality can only be ‘unlocked’ with the add-on Web Spotlight tool.

My Take

Kontent is your go-to CMS for unbeatable SEO for mid-tier and high-tier (large) companies who want to efficiently manage content.

User-focused? Absolutely. Data-driven? You bet.

Kontent’s features are designed to boost your website’s performance, manage structured data, and skyrocket your SEO rankings. It seamlessly integrates with power tools like SEMrush and has got you covered with techy SEO stuff.

Big names like Vogue and Starbucks love it, and even though it’s a bit on the pricey side, the round-the-clock support and flexible payment options make it worth it.



Best for Small Businesses and Best for Next.js Framework


My Take

Sanity is a robust, flexible headless CMS, favored by small businesses and developers, particularly those using Next.js. Though challenging for beginners, its affordability, comprehensive resources, and supportive community make it a commendable choice in the headless CMS domain.

4.6 out of 5
Best ForSmall Business
PriceStarts at $99/month
PromotionFree with Pay as you Go

Sanity is a popular headless CMS that offers a customizable and developer-friendly platform. It has been praised for its flexibility with popular developer frameworks and its ease of use.

Nike, Figma, and National Geographic use Sanity for its flexible and highly customizable, platform for managing content across multiple channels, but Sanity is a great fit for small businesses.

Key Features

  • Free product demo showing customizable real-time editing.

  • Loads of APIs for reading, writing, and patching.

  • Interfaces with 18 of your favorite frameworks like React, Vue, Next.js, Remix, and Angular.

  • Real-time cloud-managed content data lake.

  • Precise content querying with GROQ (Graph-Relational Object Queries) treats content as data.

User Resources

A good amount of documentation and resources for users to understand core content, set up, configuration and how to get the most out of Sanity Studio.

Sanity Studio Guides.

Here are some of the developer tools, templates, documentation and frameworks:

Sanity learning resources.

Pricing Structure

Sanity’s pricing is transparent and flexible. They have unlimited free admin users, and pay-as-you-go for non-admin usage, except in the Enterprise Plan.

Sanity CMS Free Plan
Sanity CMS Paid Plans

What I Like and Dislike About Sanity


  • Tons of video and documentation available for building and customizing the platform.

  • One of the most affordable headless CMS solutions on the market.

  • Flexibility to shape and type of content/data.

  • Strong community ecosystem (on places like Slack) with lots of experienced users.


  • Difficult to use for a beginner without experienced developer intervention.

  • Some gaps in documentation and tutorials require outside searches (to the Slack community) for certain nuggets of information.

My Take

And there you have it, folks – my deep dive into Sanity. It’s a robust, flexible headless CMS, carving out a niche for itself, especially in the realm of small businesses and developers passionate about frameworks like Next.js.

Despite a steeper learning curve for beginners, once you scale that initial hurdle, its affordability, a rich library of resources, and a supportive community ecosystem make it a worthy contender in the headless CMS space.



Best High Growth and Large Scale Headless CMS

contentful logo 1

My Take

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Phasellus malesuada cursus turpis, eget tempor nulla. Suspendisse quis pellentesque nisi. Donec nisl dolor, varius quis interdum eget, gravida vitae ante. Maecenas efficitur lobortis elit a pellentesque.

4.5 out of 5
Best ForHigh Growth and Large Scale
PriceStarts at $300/month
PromotionFree Starter w/Intro Space

Contentful is among the best for businesses looking for a flexible, scalable solution to manage and distribute content across multiple digital channels.

It excels in supporting complex, large-scale projects due to its robust API-first architecture, easy integration with modern technology stacks, and superior localization capabilities.

Key Features

  • One of the oldest, if not the oldest (I could not find one older) modern headless CMS.

  • As the oldest, it has an industry-leading ecosystem of apps, agencies, solution implementation experts, partners and professional services.

  • Provides an App Framework for integration and building capabilities with custom apps.

  • Highly scalable and currently supporting over 700 billion API calls per month.

  • Robust security and data infrastructure.

  • API-first architecture, enabling orchestration of content from multiple sources and publishing it to any digital channel.

  • Supports content reusability.

User Resources

Resources include e-books, videos, case studies, blog articles, meet-up events and even a short film! Contentful takes the user experience very seriously and has stopped short of nothing to provide the best user and community resources.

Contentful user and community resources

Pricing Structure

Contentful has pricing plans for every project, with options to customize and expand for additional space for users, APIs bandwidth and storage.

Contentful pricing tiers include free, basic and premium levels.

Each client falls under the Free, Basic or Premium plan, which comes with a free Intro space. You can upgrade to a medium or large space to accommodate growth.

Contentful pricing for intro, medium and large spaces.

What I Like and Dislike About Contentful Headless CMS


  • Intuitive interface, flexible and highly scalable for growth.

  • Ability to leverage a generous number of standard templates to avoid the need for advanced development.

  • Highly reliable APIs with almost no disconnects.


  • The platform’s environments are limited. Users can only create copies of an existing environment and there’s no way to merge the content back​.

  • High priced and the free version has limited features.

  • Challenging for beginners to learn the platform, and it also has limitations on accessing content from others who want to use it​.

My Take

Contentful stands out with its robust features, scalability, and comprehensive user resources. Its intuitive interface and reliable APIs make it a powerhouse for large-scale projects.

However, it’s not without drawbacks, with limited environment flexibility, a steep learning curve for beginners, and a high price tag.

Yet, it’s clear that Contentful offers a compelling package for businesses seeking a flexible, scalable CMS solution.

Try Contentful.com



Best Open Source Headless CMS

strapi logo

My Take

Strapi is an open-source, versatile headless CMS with excellent customization options. Despite minor limitations such as a learning curve and lack of a free cloud plan, its robust features, community support, and reasonable pricing make it a top contender in the headless CMS market.

4.4 out of 5
Best ForBest Open Source Community
PriceStarts at $99/month (Cloud)
DiscountCall for Enterprise Discounts
PromotionFree Self-hosted Service

Strapi is the leading open-source headless CMS, known for its 100% JavaScript, fully customizable, and developer-first approach. Companies like Walmart, eBay, Toyota, and IBM use it.

The beauty of this open data platform lies in its community-driven approach, with over 700 contributors actively maintaining the codebase on GitHub. Seeing so many coming together to make this project a success is inspiring.

It offers a full digital experience platform with unique advantage by supporting RESTful and GraphQL API consumption. This allows users to use the platform for various clients, including React, Vue, and Angular, as well as web and mobile applications, apps and IoT devices.

Strapi provides hosting flexibility, with options to use their fully managed Strapi Cloud platform and deploy on-premises, on a public cloud, or a PaaS of your choice – ensuring you’re always in control with no lock-in.

Key Features

  • Intuitive and user-friendly, making it easy to build your content types without a steep learning curve.

  • Content-Type structure is adaptable and can be flexed, offering a variety of fields and mix-and-match possibilities.

  • Supports multiple databases, including SQLite, MySQL, Postgres, and MariaDB.

  • API can be consumed using REST or GraphQL, whether the client is a mobile app, web app, or IoT device.

  • Supports multilingual websites or apps, allowing you to translate and adapt the page’s structure to different versions.

User Resources

Strapi’s community is diverse and thriving with a community Discord, meet-ups, a forum and loads of documentation.

Strapi community resources

Pricing Structure

Strapi has four pricing schemes, two for self-hosting and two for cloud hosting. Only the self-hosting scheme has a free trial. The cloud hosted options are priced quite reasonably at $99 or $499 for Pro and Team versions. You can start each with a Free 14-day trial.

Here is the self hosted pricing:

Strapi self-hosted pricing tiers.

…and here are the cloud-hosted pricing tiers:

Strapi cloud-hosted pricing tiers.

What I Like and Dislike About Strapi


  • Recorded videos and live demos are available.

  • You can make changes to the API or your data structure using any code editor, so very customizable.

  • Built-in SEO optimization capabilities, including metadata management, custom filenames, and media asset optimization.

  • Integrates with dozens of third-party providers with an easy on-boarding process for new ones.


  • No free tier for the cloud plan.

  • Editor is a bit basic which limits certain formatting.

My Take

With Strapi, you’re embracing an open-source headless CMS that’s packed with flexibility, customization, and versatility. Sure, there’s a learning curve and a few limitations, like the lack of a free cloud plan and a basic editor.

But the robust features, community support, and reasonable pricing far outweigh these minor hurdles. Bottom line? If you’re on the hunt for the best headless CMS, Strapi is well worth considering.



storyblok logo

My Take

Storyblok, a modern, robust headless CMS, offers impressive features like an API-first approach and advanced asset management. Though it’s best suited for tech-savvy teams and could improve its support, its scalability, functionality, and flexibility make it a strong choice for advanced users in the CMS market.

4.4 out of 5
Best ForEditing and Scaling
PriceStarts at $99/month
PromotionFree Community Account

Storyblok, recognized as “#1 Customer’s Choice” in Gartner’s Voice of Customer Report for Web CMS, is a modern, headless CMS trusted by over 160,000 users. Teams can create and manage content seamlessly with unlimited scalability and best-in-class security.

Its standout features include a visual editor for real-time content creation and a built-in Digital Asset Manager. Moreover, it integrates with any technology, offering the flexibility to suit your project’s needs.

Storyblok isn’t just a CMS. It’s a comprehensive content experience platform.

Storyblok headless CMS front page

Key Features

  • API-first architecture, so developers can build on any tech stack and publish on any platform.

  • Comprehensive visual editor for intuitive, collaborative content creation and live preview of changes.

  • Advanced digital asset management that enables organized storage and efficient management of content.

  • Loads of collaboration tools for efficient workflow management, including discussions, comments, and custom workflows.

  • Composable components, turning rigid templates into dynamic, repurposable content elements for any digital platform.

  • Enhanced project performance with built-in image service and global CDN for optimum image caching and delivery.

  • ISO 270001-certified security ensures the highest level of data protection and security.

User Resources

Storyblok’s learning hub contains developers guides, editor guides and instructions to integrate with technologies like Next.js, Vue, React and dozens of others. Editors can refer to Storyblok’s video editor guide to set-up, configure and navigate the features.

Like many of the other CMS, Storyblok has a diverse community on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Discord to leverage real time information and discussions to resolve problems.

Storyblok user and community resources.

Storyblok also takes their support on the road in Webinars and industry events. They speak or present at about 30 such events each year.

Pricing Structure

Storyblok has a free community version for freelancers and developers.

Storyblok free community version.

If you need the features and power of business or enterprise versions, Storyblock offers monthly and annual pricing.

Storyblok business and enterprise pricing.

What I Like and Dislike About Storyblok


  • Modular approach to content blocks allows you to create reusable components for other projects.

  • Friendly and intuitive user interface

  • Page speed for blog posts (easy to create by the way on Storyblok) is top notch


  • Lacks flexibility to configure options and diversity of capabilities seen in some of the other CMS platforms reviewed here.

  • Although the user community is vast and broad, some customers express frustration with the number of bugs that pop up and with Storyblok technical support’s lack of responsiveness to handle them

  • Requires storng front-end development experience – definitely not a beginner’s CMS.

  • Limited template options compared to the other CMS platforms reviewed.

My Take

To wrap up, Storyblok is a modern, robust headless CMS with impressive features like an API-first approach, visual editor, and advanced digital asset management.

It’s a powerful tool for tech-savvy teams but demands a solid grasp of front-end development, and its technical support could be improved.

Despite this, its scalability, functionality, and flexibility make it a strong choice, especially for advanced users. While the perfect CMS doesn’t exist, Storyblok is a serious contender in the market, with a future-focused solution that could be the right fit for your projects.


WordPress in Headless Mode

Best Headless CMS for Blogs

wordpress logo

My Take

Headless WordPress provides bloggers with flexibility, speed, and data portability, outweighing potential setup costs and the need to manage two platforms. The advantages could significantly outweigh these challenges.

4.2 out of 5
Best ForBlogs

Well, what the heck is WordPress in headless mode? Did you know you can configure WordPress in headless mode? I didn’t know it at first but you can.

You can use WordPress as a headless content management system by creating a blank theme (the hard way) or by using a plugin (the easy way). There are two excellent plugins to convert WordPress to a headless content management systems mode:

Headless CMS WordPress plugin.
Headless Mode CMS WordPress plugin.

These plugins disable the front end of a WordPress site, allowing it to be used as a content management system and accessed via API on a more modern front-end technology like React, Vue.js, or Angular.

This hosting provider published a great article on configuring WordPress as a headless CMS.

Key Features

  • Free and basic alternative to traditional CMS – a great option for bloggers.

  • Headless WordPress is typically faster than a regular WordPress site.

  • Good integration with social platforms and mobile apps.

  • Makes your WordPress data portable, enabling you to take it anywhere.

User Resources

Support for the headless plugins is limited, and you may have to hire a developer for configuration and setup.

Pricing Structure

The WordPress headless plugins are free but you’ll probably need to pay a developer to configure and setup, not to mention the development of a custom front-end.

What I Like and Dislike About WordPress in Headless Mode



  • Cost uncertainty depends on the customer front-end development required.

  • Possible incompatibilities with other WordPress plugins.

  • The need to maintain two separate platforms – a front end and a back end.

My Take

In a nutshell, going headless with WordPress offers bloggers flexibility, speed, and data portability.

Yes, there may be costs for setup and custom front-end development, and you’ll need to juggle two platforms. But the gains could be well worth it.



Best Open Data Headless CMS

directus logo

My Take

Directus, an innovative headless CMS, transforms SQL databases into an API and no-code app. Despite minor drawbacks like occasional bugs and a developing community, its robust features, generous pricing, and undeniable potential make it worth considering.

4.2 out of 5
Best ForOpen Data/APIs
PriceStarts at $99/month (Cloud)
PromotionFree Self-hosted Service

Directus prides itself on being the first open data platform for instantly turning any SQL database into an API and beautiful no-code app.

This is pretty interesting…

So, Directus can take any SQL database — no matter how big or complex — and instantly turn it into an API! This is like converting a library of books written in a foreign language into your native language, making it easily accessible and understandable.

They can do this while providing a no-code app. The result? A much more flexible and efficient way to create and manage digital content.

This is particularly useful for businesses that want to build various digital experiences (like on multiple websites, apps, or other digital platforms) using the same content and for individuals who wish to develop their own digital projects without needing a deep coding knowledge.

Directus headless CMS home page.

Key Features

  • Innovative approach to turn any SQL database into an API and a no-code app.

  • Installs on top of any existing SQL database without requiring data migration to a proprietary model.

  • Developers can design and build production-grade REST+GraphQL API in minutes.

  • Facilitates quick creation of back-office apps and admin panels for business intelligence.

  • Many team members at Directus start off as contributors, ensuring they are already familiar with the codebase and engaged in open-source.

User Resources

Their Learn-Explore-Build-Connect approach to resources is second to none. It’s loaded with documentation, build repositories and a 9,300-strong Discord community.

Directus user resources.

Pricing Structure

Directus has a generous pricing plan for cloud and self-hosted options. Their self-hosted service is completely free to individuals and small businesses.

Directus cloud starts at $99/month and balloons to several thousand dollars per month depending on the scale of your enterprise.

Directus self-hosted pricing.
Directus cloud pricing.

What I Like and Dislike About Directus


  • Iterative app design permits quick prototyping, testing, and deployment.

  • Highly extensible and customizable.

  • Project setup is relatively quick and easy.

  • Intuitive back office.


  • New features sometimes pushed too quickly into release can be buggy.
  • The open source community is still growing with a comparatively small reach of developers and documentation that needs more detail, often leaving developers stranded to figure it out.

My Take

In a nutshell, Directus impresses as an innovative headless CMS, transforming any SQL database into an API and no-code app. Its key features are robust, and its pricing is generous.

While it has minor drawbacks like occasional bugs and a growing open-source community that still needs more documentation, the platform’s potential is undeniable. I recommend giving Directus a shot – your insights could help shape its future.


What is a Headless Content Management System?

A headless Content Management System (CMS) is a back-end-only content management system built as a content repository that makes content accessible via a RESTful API for display on any device.

Unlike the traditional CMS, a headless CMS doesn’t concern itself with the presentation layer or the “head” – hence the term “headless.”

Traditional CMS vs. Headless CMS

In a traditional CMS, the content management back-end and the front-end delivery layer are tightly coupled. This means the content is stored and managed in the back end and served to the front end to be formatted and displayed on the website.

Think of the front end as a mannequin at a clothing store that shows off the new fashion line.

However, while effective for standalone websites, this design needs to be revised when it comes to getting the content on to multiple devices and platforms, such as mobile apps, a smartwatch, or other digital devices.

A headless CMS decouples the content creation from the content presentation.

It allows for storing and delivering this content, agnostic of the channel or medium where it will be consumed. It’s like the fashion designer who creates clothes without worrying about how they will look on the mannequin.

This is made possible by serving the content through an API, typically in a JSON or XML format, which can be consumed and displayed by any front-end system.

Developers can use any language or framework for the front end to customize the presentation layer. Using the latest technologies like React, Vue.js, or Angular is also advantageous.

A headless CMS lets content creators manage and publish content all from one location without worrying about presentation.

In terms of performance, headless CMSs typically offer better speed and scalability. Since the front end is decoupled, the back end can be scaled independently, offering better performance.

Also, since the content is delivered via APIs, it can be cached more efficiently at the edge locations of a content delivery network (CDN), reducing the latency for end-users.

To summarize, a headless CMS is a modern solution that provides flexibility, scalability, and performance for managing and delivering content across multiple platforms.

In addition, it separates the content layer from the presentation layer, allowing developers to build with their preferred tools and enabling content creators to focus on creating quality content without constraints.

Wrap up

Well, there you have it – my review of headless CMS platforms, each with qualities and features tailored to specific use cases.

Dig deep into these platforms before making a choice. Take advantage of the free in-person and video demos where available and ask lots of questions.

Decide if you’d like to use cloud hosting or host yourself.

Finally, engage the robust communities associated with each of the platforms to find out what the pain points are and what support you’ll get if you run into similar challenges.

Good luck picking the best option for you!

Disclosure: I may receive affiliate compensation for some of the links above at no cost to you if you decide to purchase a plan. You can read my full affiliate disclosure here.

Similar Posts