Is a Headless CMS Just for Large Enterprises?

Take a look around the websites of most of the leading Headless CMS sites and the feel is very much enterprise-grade, married to a very developer-centric view of the world. However, as this blog argues not all Headless CMS providers share the same view that Headless is not for small or medium-sized businesses.

Alan Gleeson - CMO Contento

Alan Gleeson

Co-Founder / CEO

July 3, 2024

Grey Ellipse Icon

5 mins read

Group of people at work looking at tablet


Visit any of the leading Headless CMS websites and the feel is very much designed to appeal to large enterprises. Everything from the messaging, to the logo suggestions, to the feature set point to ‘large enterprises’. Words like DXP, data lakes and omnichannel are not terms that regularly feature at the SMB level.

In part this positioning makes sense.

  1. Enterprises have deeper pockets and thus vendors can target higher average contract value (ACVs). Price points quickly ratchet between tiers rendering the entry-level options redundant in many instances within a matter of months as companies add more content (or once ‘object limits’ are hit as some vendors argue).

  2. Many of the resultant benefits from Headless align with high-traffic sites where marginal gains can make a significant difference or where bespoke design or enhanced security are key parts of any decision-making process.

  3. As the feature set evolves new features are of most appeal to power users. 

  4. Headless is geared up towards a team of users and the reliance on the developer team is a key part (unlike smaller websites where maintenance is often solely the preserve of the marketing team). 

This is very much the VC playbook. Increase switching costs, and add features that increase the ACV.

The developer-centric nature of the messaging also recognises who the main player in town is. The purchase decision will invariably be the tech lead, whereas the marketing (or content functions) will often be the main users. This is of course in stark contrast to smaller or medium-sized businesses, where the buyer may in fact be the marketing lead.

Most of the main leaders have taken on heavy investment and in attempts to recoup some of the investment the trend is very much one of ‘moving up market’. 

But what of fast-growing scale-ups that have outgrown Webflow, WordPress or Squarespace? 

Many of the companies stuck in this bucket will find the jump to Headless daunting. 

After all, they’ll most likely need to bake in a website migration to the upgrade process.

Can they not also enjoy the benefits of Headless despite these leading vendors not targeting them?

Race to the Middle

In some ways, the picture I’ve painted here is playing out behind the scenes. Leading CMS critics and commentators like Deane Barker and Preston So are already flagging some issues with the current gap between the traditional monolithic approach (synonymous with WordPress) and pure Headless offerings like Sanity. They describe how the next stage is the race to the middle.

As Barker argues:

If you look on the two ends of the spectrum, traditional web content management systems on one end of the spectrum that just generates HTML, then you have headless CMSs on the other end of the spectrum that just generates JSON, and we’re both racing to the middle. 

And then on the other side, you have headless vendors that just manage content are now baking in web content management systems on top of their headless systems. And this is what I call the race to the middle. And in five years, the concept between a traditional CMS and headless CMS will disappear. I mean, any CMS that wants to stay in the market will do both.

— Source: Deane Barker in conversation with Larry Swanson (2022)

The benefits of Headless are compelling, but the drawbacks can be significant with plenty of botched deployments and budget overruns occurring in the formative years of Headless. Despite its growing maturity as an approach many web development agencies are new to the concept, and thus early projects can be sticky as the learning curve is particularly steep.

Contento - a Headless CMS for Small and Medium Businesses?

One of the primary motivations for us starting Contento was the fact we felt Headless had ignored those that sat outside of the enterprise bucket (the majority of businesses). 

Key issues we identified included:

  • Feature sets were overwhelming

  • The learning curves were very steep

  • Price gouging was evident

  • The reliance on senior developers was significant

  • The overall cost of a new site was too high (when set against the benefits)

  • The content editing experience was awful (and I’m being polite here)

So what if we’d prioritize the needs of this much larger segment by tackling the issues that turned so many off Headless?

  • Price points that were reasonable and didn’t have 10X ratchets between tiers

  • A UI/ UX that did not overwhelm the marketing function

  • Starter kits and libraries to reduce the build time for common tasks

  • A feature set that was designed around the dominant use case - marketing websites

  • Baking in key features like SEO, visual previews and content management workflows.

And that is what we’ve done.

Our growing set of customers ranges from early-stage startups to mid-sized businesses.

All enjoying the benefits of being headless. 

Bespoke-designed, blazingly quick websites that are SEO optimized and easy to use and maintain.

Join our newsletter

Get updates about Contento features and the latest from the blog.

By subscribing to our newsletter you accept our GDPR terms and Privacy Policy


While Headless is synonymous with enterprise clients, this is primarily due to the ability of vendors to extract a much greater share of wallet compared to the more mass-market entry-level solutions available. Once you have access to a front-end developer (in-house, freelance or agency) a headless offering like that from Contento offers all the advantages of Headless without the pain that comes with a market leading solution.

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.

Recommended Reading

Woman looking frustrated at desk

Like many new CMS cycles over the years, some early adopters have paid a price for poor deployments. However, as the category has matured there are still some issues to be aware of. This short guide shines a light on some of these helping you to mitigate the risk when transitioning to a headless-backed website.

Alan GleesonGrey Ellipse Icon

16 May 2024

Grey Ellipse Icon

5 mins read

Man looking at complex paperwork on wall

Like many SaaS categories that have attracted significant amounts of investment, the Headless CMS category is facing some challenges. In part, it is due to the feature bloat that has led to some of the leading applications becoming practically unusable. However, there is another way as this short blog outlines.

Alan GleesonGrey Ellipse Icon

27 March 2024

Grey Ellipse Icon

7 mins read

Admin Panel - Dashboard

When it comes to a new website the focus is often on the new design, and site performance. However, for those responsible for ongoing site management and maintenance looking under the hood is of critical importance. The admin panel or content management interface plays an important yet underappreciated role.

Alan GleesonGrey Ellipse Icon

7 March 2024

Grey Ellipse Icon

5 mins read

Newsletter Icon

Join our Newsletter

Learn how to build and manage a great website by subscribing to our newsletter to keep up to date with our products and services.

By subscribing to our newsletter you accept our GDPR terms and Privacy Policy