The right foundations changes everything
The Digital Renaissance

The Best Headless Content Management Systems

Over the last few years the digital customer experience has changed quite a lot – as well as the technology that facilitates it.

Consumers today have more options to choose from than ever before when it comes to where they read, when they read, and the frequency of what they read. Today we browse through our smartphones or tablets, and we can get alerts and notifications on our watches.

There are 6 billion smartphone subscriptions across the world, while mobile plays a major role in how we consume content. The multichannel landscape means that brands and retailers ought to utilize the right tech to deal with changes and keep pace.

Headless CMS

A content management system is headless when it separates the front-end presentation face from the back-end storage body.

The front-end delivers content to any number of devices through APIs while the back-end manages the content and digital experience. And so it is through the APIs that the front- and back-end are connected.

Traditional, or legacy, content management systems tend to lack the flexibility that is required for brands and retailers to operate in today’s multichannel landscape. 

The API-first approach makes it better able to give businesses the capabilities to meet their customers’ ever-increasing demands.

So we’re now going to take a look at a handful of leading headless content management systems. In fact, this is a list of headless CMSs that have all been recommended by the analyst firms Forrester, Gartner, and G2.


Based out of Berlin, the API-first platform Contentful was built to create and elevate digital experiences. It has the tools to make omnichannel experiences, and the ability to edit content from a single source. Marketers are given a user-friendly interface to add content and publish, while developers get to use GraphQL and RESTful APIs to manage the delivery.


Based out of New York, Optimizely is recognized as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for digital experience platforms. Through the platform users can create and optimize digital experiences that are open and extensible.

Adobe Experience Manager

As part of the broad Adobe suite of products, Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is one of the leaders in the Forrester Wave for Agile content management systems. The platform enables brands to personalize digital experiences, as well as the ability to use content and reuse it across devices and channels.


One of the three San Fran-based platforms on this list, Sitecore was ranked as a “strong performer” in Forrester’s Wave for Agile content management systems. Unpacking Sitecore reveals a suite of solutions (such as Experience Platform, Content Hub, Experience Commerce) that help to centralize content assets and deliver quality digital experiences across all channels.


The third headless platform out of San Francisco is Contentstack, which was founded in 2007. The cloud-based platform allows both devs and creatives to work faster and build better digital experiences. It was also made for enterprise companies, and supports scaling and simple integrations with other technologies.

Whether it’s Contentful’s personalizable charm or AEM’s close Adobe contacts, ultimately each business brings with it its own needs and strategies to forge ahead in the digital environment, and so which content management system, or whether it should even be headless, is a discussion for the internal team to have first before exploring options.