The Uncomplicated Headless CMS

Headless CMS are complicated. There is simply no getting away from that fact. However, as this blog outlines Contento is working hard at ensuring that it is the easiest Headless CMS to use. Read on to find out what we are doing to achieve this.

Alan Gleeson - CMO Contento

Alan Gleeson

Co-Founder / CEO

March 15, 2024

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7mins read

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The Easy to Use Headless CMS

As Headless CMS continues to grow in popularity, an increasing number of junior and mid-level developers are being exposed to the methodology for the first time. Despite the developer-centric nature of the approach, marketing departments have gone into overdrive extolling the virtues of their easy-to-use Headless CMS.

But for the most part, they are taking liberties with the truth.

In reality, most Headless CMS-backed websites are challenging, to say the least, and many the agency has been burned with a "first-time build".

In this short article, we explore the reasons for the complications, and how Headless CMS vendors like Contento are endeavouring to offer a truly easy-to-use solution. But first, we have to go back in time a little.

The Headless CMS Feature Race

One of the primary drivers behind some of the usability challenges with Headless is related to the industry context. Many of the leading vendors have raised significant amounts of VC cash. As they seek to occupy the category leadership position they've invested heavily in the product. Enjoying feature parity initially and then going further results in feature and website bloat. Larger sales teams help to accelerate the list of features needed to "help close the deal". Add in the omnichannel-centric nature of Headless catering for a diverse range of use cases and before you know it, 5 years down the line the feature set starts resembling WordPress. Lots of features, equates to lots of decisions needing to be made, often by those not technical enough to make a decision with confidence.

Picking on WordPress again?

Well yes, I am.

Having used WordPress for many years, especially the "mature site" version of it, with lots of Plugins in situ is every marketer's nightmare. The cognitive overload is significant and in many instances, it is a junior marketing person who is entrusted with managing and maintaining the website, despite being patently unqualified for the task at hand.

And herein, lies a key point.

One of the big issues with most CMS (and Headless CMS in particular), is that the buyer and the user are not the same.

Most CMS purchase decisions are made by a technology lead (often in parallel with a web development agency).

The main users (often those in the marketing or content team) tend to be neglected.

One need only visit some of the websites of the leading Headless CMS to note the references to data lakes, webhooks, Git hub repos and content repositories.

This is not the language of marketing and content people.

Go a step further and look at the admin panel (or content management interface) and you'll find it is patently unsuitable for a non-technical user.

Once a site is live and handed over, ongoing management and maintenance tend to fall on the shoulders of the marketing team. This is usually a resource-constrained function with a wide range of tasks to be managed. Landing into a complicated user interface is the last thing they need.

So not only are they not involved in the selection process, but the entire application is biased towards technical users, and yet they are then the ones responsible for ongoing management and maintenance.

In any other line of work, this context would lead to significant push-back, especially when it relates to an application with enterprise-wide significance.

Going Upstream - Enterprise Usage

Linked to all of these points, is the increasing emphasis on enterprise grade clients.

Many of the VC backed market leaders in the Headless CMS space tend to move upstream so they can command a bigger share of the pie (increased wallet share).

One need only look at the pricing pages of the market leaders to be struck by some of the tactics being used to appeal to enterprise and to disincentivise the middle and below.

  • More limited free plans than was once the case

  • Evidence of price gouging (10X increases between tiers) which are triggered via various seemingly innocuous trigger points

  • An ever expanding tick list of features, the majority of which are not clear to non-technical users

  • New features being limited to enterprise tiers only

In short, the sector is suffering from a number of challenges right now that is making Headless CMS more challenging than it needs to be.

1- Pricing that is increasingly beyond the scope of many organisations

2- Feature bloat which serves to steepen the learning curve

3- Features that you pay for but don't ever use

4- A direction of travel that is heading upstream at a rate of knots with no obvious Headless CMS filling the void.

In short, it is ripe for disruption, and like many disruptions it often starts towards the bottom, with a more competitively priced option focused on 'must have' features.

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Finally a CMS Marketing will Love

So how is Contento different?

  1. Firstly, Contento is a Headless CMS that makes a major assumption upfront. You'll be primarily using it to manage a website. By making this simple assumption it makes it a lot easier to have a tighter feature set that aligns around one specific use case, rather than being a "blank box" like pretty much every other Headless CMS. And this position makes a world of difference.

  2. From Day 1, we have championed the cause of marketing (or the content function), as we strongly believe it has been neglected by most Headless vendors (as we describe above). Hence, we've worked hard on ensuring the user interface/ admin panel is intuitive and easy to use for non-technical developers. A case in point is the non-technical author for this blog, crafting it within Contento itself.

  3. We've also stripped back the UI/UX and offer multiple on-off toggles so developers can align with the marketing function as to which features will appear in the dashboard. Again using my own situation as a case in point I have access to the SEO module, but not the site-wide settings nor the content types. Less is definitely more.

  4. We want to encourage more junior devs to work with Headless CMS and thus we include dedicated features including starter kits, and templates they can use out of the gate to get going quickly and easily. We rally against feature bloat and think long and hard about adding new features, knowing full well that many of the mature Headless offerings are full of features that rarely get used.

  5. We are also mindful of costings, and avoid the 10X price ratchets between tiers so common with the market leaders where the ratchet is almost unavoidable for any growing website. Entry-level pricing quickly becomes eye-watering pricing.


We could have called this blog the Easy to Use Headless CMS, but that phrase has been bandied about too liberally for almost every SaaS application.

No Headless CMS is 'easy to use' - they do require some level of technological knowledge, as they are after all a "best of breed" alternative to an "all-in-one". However, too many circumstances (as described above) have coalesced to the point where complexity and pricing represent major barriers to adoption. Similarly we believe the primary user has been neglected for too long, and we are one of the few that take the content editor's user experience seriously.

By being uncomplicated we still deliver on all the primary advantages of Headless without trying to cover every edge case with yet another feature.

Alan Gleeson - CMO Contento
Alan Gleeson

Co-Founder / CEO

Alan Gleeson has 15+ years extensive B2B SaaS experience working with several VC backed Startups & Scaleups in the UK, US & Ireland.

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