Definition

headless CMS (headless content management system)

A headless content management system (CMS) delivers back-end capabilities for editing, organizing and storing all types of digital information, without regard to how that content is published, displayed or used.

Compared to a conventional WCM system, a headless CMS can more easily support omnichannel delivery -- including native mobile apps, mobile web apps, PC-powered webpages, speech and audio interfaces, and other digital experiences. But flexibility and extensibility come at a cost -- some programming is required.

A headless CMS includes a set of RESTful APIs to separate back-end content management from front-end presentation. Application developers must sort through various technical options to deliver front-end experiences that delight their target audiences and meet business needs. They need to have the insights and expertise to understand the various tradeoffs, and make the appropriate design decisions.

This was last updated in April 2017

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