The Headless CMS
We look at the difference between a traditional and a headless CMS, how a headless CMS slots into web development, and discuss some of the advantages of using a headless CMS for your web project.
A headless CMS is used only for data capture, storage, and delivery, making it frontend agnostic. Its data can be displayed using any frontend technology, whether in a browser, mobile application, syndication, or elsewhere.
A traditional CMS deals with data collection, delivery, and display. WordPress, for example, has a backend where users can enter data. This data is stored in a MySQL database, retrieved from the database using PHP, and then displayed in the browser using the theme system.
A headless CMS decouples the theme system, allowing you to replace it with the frontend technologies of your choice. What’s left is the data storage method and web application for authors and editors, while the data is delivered to the frontend using an API.
Decoupling content management from frontend display
Fast, interactive experiences
One content management system, multiple frontends
With a traditional, monolithic CMS, data is simply displayed by the CMS itself. Data stored in a headless CMS is available for display in any context. You may want to use it for a website now, but later you may decide to use the same data for a desktop or touch screen application. The stored data is always available via the API.
Multi-service content pipelines
![a diagram showing WordPress as a translation layer in a larger content authoring platform](images/larger content authoring.png)
A headless CMS can be used to store all of the data for one site or application, or it can just be one element of a larger application that retrieves and aggregates data. This means that data can be integrated into existing workflows as just one layer. For example, it could be used just as a layer for translating content which is then pushed to another CMS.