The 12 Best Headless CMS You May Not Have Heard of…
If you’re looking for the best headless CMS for your website, you need to know that there are around 100 of them on the market. Sure, you can opt for the most popular ones, though, these used less frequently are also worth taking a look at. In this article, we present you key features, pros and cons of selected headless content management systems.
To mark their online presence, companies have to find solutions to publish their content. One common approach is using a Content Management System (CMS), which may also serve as an integral part of the Jamstack approach to web development. The latest research shows the dynamic growth of this technology, as there are already 50% more Jamstack websites in 2021 than there were in 2020.
Benefits of Using Less Popular Headless CMS platforms
Choosing the right headless CMS might be challenging. Should your business choose the most popular tools, or rather benefit from using niche ones? Let’s take a look at this topic with a deeper perspective to check out which options are best for different business models.
More attractive price
As some tools are getting popular, usually their rates go higher. Moreover, their trial plans are typically less generous than the ones offered by less-known tools.
While it is true that more experienced companies tend to provide better customer care, there’s still the risk of low engagement in their customer queries. The headless architecture industry has been growing very fast and, therefore, the more popular companies didn’t have much time to prepare for the increased number of users.
While this is not a rule, there’s a chance their response to your queries might be unsatisfactory. Not-so-popular headless CMS tend to cherish each cooperation with their users more and therefore might be much more willing to help, not to mention potentially quicker reaction times.
Ideal for non-standard projects
Most popular headless CMS provide a lot of freedom and allow you to achieve a wide variety of results. However, sometimes you will want a much more customized solution when, due to business needs, the necessity to use a niche technology or the desire to provide a really distinctive user experience is critical. This is where less popular headless CMS come to the rescue.
Openness to feedback
Last but not least, the lesser known companies are much more open to any feedback you give them. Their goal is, in the end, reaching the popularity of competition, and the best way to achieve it is the customer satisfaction rate.
Main Factors to Consider When Choosing a TOP Less Popular Headless CMS solutions
When choosing a headless CMS solution, it's important to consider its ability to adapt and grow with your business needs. A scalable CMS ensures that you can easily add new functionalities and features as your requirements evolve, allowing your website or application to remain flexible and responsive to changing market demands, even during traffic peaks. With the right CMS, you can seamlessly scale your digital presence without compromising performance or user experience.
With headless architectures, the separation of the front end and the back end allows for better security by default. By decoupling the presentation layer from the CMS back end, potential attack vectors are reduced, enhancing the overall security posture. Additionally, reputable headless CMS platforms employ robust security measures such as role-based access control, data encryption, and regular updates, ensuring the safety of your content and user data.
You'll want a CMS that provides a comprehensive set of features and capabilities to meet your content management needs. From content modeling and versioning to workflow management and media handling, a properly-chosen headless CMS empowers you to create, organize, and publish content efficiently. By leveraging its functionalities, you can streamline your content management processes and drive better results for your business.
Integration capabilities are vital for seamless content management. And also less popular headless CMS solutions offer flexibility in integrating with third-party services and tools, allowing you to leverage existing technologies and enhance your digital ecosystem. Whether it's integrating with e-commerce platforms, marketing automation tools, or analytics systems, a compatible CMS enables you to extend the functionality of your digital properties and create more integrated and cohesive experiences for your users.
While price shouldn't be the sole determining factor, it's essential to evaluate the pricing structure and ensure it aligns with your budget and business goals. Look for a CMS that offers transparent pricing, considering factors such as licensing, hosting, and ongoing support. Finding a CMS that provides a balance between affordability and value for your specific requirements will contribute to the long-term success of your project.
12 Best Headless CMS That Aren’t Always Mentioned on Similar Lists
Now that you know what a headless CMS is and why it might be beneficial to choose less popular ones, let’s take a deeper look at what are the advantages and disadvantages of several options on the following list.
Storyblok is the world's first interface-free headless CMS that works for developers and business users. On their site, we can find that over 68,000 developers and marketers use Storyblok's CMS to deliver content experiences on any platform: corporate websites, e-commerce sites, mobile applications and screens.
It offers a free trial that is relatively generous
It is an SaaS service that comes with advantages specific to this type of product (accessibility, convenient management, scalability, increased security)
Very accessible prices for their plans
It needs some development when it comes to customization
Butter CMS charms both web developers and content creators with its ease of use. The software developers have taken care not to overload the headless CMS with functions, which is why it acts relatively quickly.
In addition, Butter CMS comes with more useful functions. For example, support for search engine optimization (SEO) is part of the scope of delivery. Butter CMS is only available in a cloud version and thus under an SaaS model. A free version is offered, but this may only be used for non-commercial projects. It's also an example of API-driven headless CMS.
Complex & professional support for SEO
Its interface is administration-targeted
It is an SaaS headless CMS that comes with advantages specific to this type of product (accessibility, convenient management, scalability, increased security)
Quick setting up & integration
Easy to use
The free plan isn’t very generous and might be reduced further in the future
Programmed in Java, this headless Content Management System focuses on scalability. In general, however, Magnolia is aimed at large companies that want to realize an extensive web presence. The headless CMS is therefore only one of the solutions offered. An open-source version is available, but its range of functions is severely limited compared to the paid version. On their official website, we can find that 400+ market leaders have already built their digital experiences with Magnolia.
Allows you to publish content without being tied to a specific visual template or frontend structure
Offers backend content management capabilities through advanced visual editing tools, for a simplified content management and editing process, as well as a better creation experience
Allows scalability & extensibility, which is much appreciated by the users
It is an SaaS headless CMS that comes with advantages specific to this type of product (accessibility, convenient management, scalability, increased security)
It’s an advanced tool that can seem complicated to use at times. Therefore, it demands an experienced team of developers
As a result of its extensity, there are some concerns about how the price might increase in the future
Directus is one of particularly simpler Content Management Systems. Due to the intuitive interface, beginners can work well with this system. This open-source tool scores particularly well with its comment and note function, which prove to be very useful. In addition, files can be uploaded and managed via Directus. Users do not have to worry about data loss either, as the tool tracks all activities, with rollbacks possible at any time. On their official website, we can read that more than 4,600 users are now among their community.
User-defined SQL databases in connection with a dynamic API (Application Programming Interface)
Open-source & free self-hosting or, alternatively, its own on-demand cloud service
Comment & note function (very intuitive, according to developers)
File upload & management
Not many other CMS allow uploading and managing files
Free community cloud service; no artificial limitations or paywalls (e.g. Standard Cloud starts at $25 a month with no quotas, and there's a completely free Cloud Tier available)
No risk of losing data, as Directus always track all activities
Some issues with the pre-uploading of big video files
5. Gather Content
GatherContent CMS is designed for large teams that produce a lot of content for web projects. Thousands of design agencies and large internal development teams use it worldwide. On their website, we can find that over 100,000 websites launched with the use of these services.
Access Controls and Permissions
Designed to be an easy & intuitive tool for companies working with a huge amount of content
As it’s fairly new to the market, its pricing is very accessible
Not suitable for teams that don’t manage big amount of projects
Because of the little experience this company has, the customer care might be a little sloppy sometimes
Pimcore is the leading open-source digital experience management platform used more than 80,000 times by leading companies around the world (Pimcore, 2022). It is a consolidated platform of content, community and commerce applications across every customer interaction.
It integrates Product Information Management (PIM)/Master Data Management (MDM), Digital Asset Management (DAM), Web Content Management System (CMS) and e-commerce capabilities into a single open-source suite. It’s not a CMS at its core, however it can be transformed into one with developers’ work.
Content library with cataloging and categorization
Data quality control
Many options for managing content
The possibility to choose a free plan
It has quite a big community of users, which can share useful knowledge and support on some issues
Pimcore is appreciated for its quick and reliable customer care
It’s quite pricey for a solution that is not popular yet, however you can modify your plan
Statamic is a flat-file CMS powered by Laravel. Contrary to its most direct competitor, October, Statamic seems to be more accomplished as a full product. What’s most interesting, however, is that even though Statamic is a three-person team, there are nearly 30,000 registered Statamic developers (Statamic, 2022).
Content publishing options
Very accessible pricing
Easy installation and integration with other tools
A sleek, modern interface
The communication style of this company is sometimes questionable: not every team will like it
Functionalities could still be developed and improved
8. Dato CMS
This is an open-source web content management for businesses and professionals. This software package is commonly used by small and medium-sized businesses, as well as by companies in the Services and Tertiary sectors.
Online assistance, e.g. forum, tutorials
Technical support via phone, mail and chat
The DatoCMS software comes with a private cloud and custom SLAs
Easy and efficient access to support and customer care
The interface could be more user-friendly
Amplience is an API driven headless CMS for B2C and B2B businesses. It allows creating dynamic content and experience at scale without developer intervention. Amplience serves over 350 of the world's leading brands including Crate & Barrel, Tumi, Traeger Grills, Argos, OTTO Group, Primark and Very Group (Amplience, 2022).
Convenient access Controls/Permissions
Electronic forms & customizable templates
Version, workflow & document management
Many accessible content publishing options
Allows the planning, creation and delivery of content from one place with previews across multiple contexts and channels.
No need to have experienced developers in the team to manage content
It’s mostly suited for bigger projects, and the plan rates indicate that as well
Not suitable for projects that are not primarily focused on B2C or B2B cooperation
Being a slightly different product on this list, Plasmic allows developers to build websites with easy to grasp, visual tools and methods.
Has an optimization section that helps with the growth of the website
No need to work with experienced developers, as Plasmic is very intuitive and allows for projects to be created via an easy & visual toolset
Greatly helps with improving optimization and page visibility
It’s unique and therefore not every team will like it, as it’s a very visual tool that is less focused on the extensive functionality of a website
Enonic is a modern content platform and headless CMS navigating the high wire between developer freedom and editorial power usage. With Enonic, there are many ways to reach Rome. Use it as a digital experience platform with templates and landing pages, use it as a purely headless CMS to create, curate, and distribute structured content to any channel, or use it as a mixture wholly dependent on your requirements.
Due to its decoupled nature, developers can use Enonic with their favorite front-end frameworks and tools – like the Next.js integration that showcases server-side rendering with React. On the other side, content editors can work in a familiar and efficient environment, complete with tree structure, visual page editing, and in-context previews.
Can be hosted by Enonic, in any cloud or on premise
Flexible schema system
User friendly editorial environment
Use any front-end
SDK and CLI get developers started quickly
The Enonic platform does not offer any out-of-the-box functionality for eCommerce, AB testing, or personalization – instead encouraging integration with “best of breed” vendors
There is no free alternative in the Enonic Cloud (beside a trial)
Sanity is an open-source headless CMS used by over 100,000 of people around the world. It’s a common, frequent choice of companies that want to benefit especially from data driven content solutions and, thus, creation of dynamic, interactive and highly customizable websites, platforms and apps.
Sanity is used by Nike, Figma, Remarkable, Cloudflare or Sonos.
A tool designed to be highly flexible and extensible
Highly customizable either by using plugins or by writing your own React components
Content treated structurally, as data
WYSIWYG rich text editor
Real-time collaboration for content teams
The Sanity Studio is an open source React app
Ultra-friendly for users
The workflow is nice and steady
Great documentation and data model
Easy to integrate with
Gives great freedom for developers
Schemas are easy to write and they’re included in the code
Not very great for developers working simultaneously (independent work on code isn’t time-efficient)
Requires advanced skillset to organize the CMS
The priority to use GROQ, a Sanity-specific language, instead of industry standard GraphQL (can be seen as an advantage, though)
Expert Insights on Choosing the Best Headless CMS for your e-commerce business
Whichever headless CMS you choose, do it thoroughly and comprehensively - it will pay off.
The above list isn't exhaustive - you're free to choose from over 100 headless content management systems present on the market. At Naturaily, we happily make things easier for you by doing an analysis of your business needs and requirements. On this basis, we present you with recommended options, tailored to the goals you determined or pain points you'd like to tackle.
Just drop us a line and we'll do the magic!
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