The Versatility of a Headless CMS

Headless CMS is synonymous with enterprise websites. However, this short blog aims to dispel the myth they are just for big brands and outlines how Headless CMS-backed websites can be effectively utilized in a range of different use cases.

Alan Gleeson - CMO Contento

Alan Gleeson

Co-Founder / CEO

February 20, 2024

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5 mins read

Headless CMS Versatility

Headless CMS Versatility - An Introduction

Headless CMS-backed websites have exploded in recent years, and the list of brands that have embraced Headless reads like a Fortune 500 list of companies.

There has also been a distinct e-commerce feel to some of the early adopters, who have recognized the immense power of omnichannel delivery from a content repository that can feed multiple heads via API. As we explore in this article the use of Headless has expanded beyond this narrow enterprise segment and we are noticing increased adoption further down the chain.

Headless CMS - Synonymous with Major Brands

Analyzing the logos proudly lined up on the leading Headless CMS homepages offers a window into the extent that Headless has been embraced by major brands. Those listed as already using a Headless CMS-backed solution include Spotify, Netflix, McDonalds, The New York Times, The Financial Times, Sonos, Nike, adidas, and Pizza Hut. Add tech companies to the list and you can add the likes of Buffer, Netlify, Figma, Stripe, and Teamwork.

The attractions of Headless for these lie in some of the resultant benefits that help differentiate the category from traditional legacy CMS like WordPress.

These benefits include:

  • Site speeds that are hard to match on a traditional infrastructure

  • A category that offers an improved security architecture compared to WordPress

  • A CMS built for scaling and with the flexibility to support large content production

  • The omnichannel capability where content is accessible via APIs

  • The ability to create beautiful bespoke designs 

Marrying these advantages and known issues with WordPress (especially for mature scaling websites) it is evident why Headless appeals so much.

Some of the drawbacks include the more technical setup (which requires senior developers) working on the site, and resultant cost premiums are minor for these categories of users with deep pockets and adequate in-house technical resources.

However, as this article will argue, the versatility of Headless married to recent developments means it can be considered a credible option for those businesses earlier on their journey (and subject to greater resource constraints).

Finally, as I described elsewhere - running multiple CMS is increasingly the norm for those looking to avail of best-of-breed solutions to manage their websites.

Versatility of a Headless CMS

A Headless CMS-backed website is arguably of most value to high-traffic websites where marginal gains make a big difference. This is especially the case for traditional monolithic CMS-backed websites like WordPress where website bloat is a common occurrence after a few years.

Headless CMS are also often introduced as part of a website migration where a company looks to upgrade its site (often baking in a visual identity refresh/ brand uplift) as part of a wider overhaul.

However, as we’ve learned with Contento an increasing number of clients are interested in the benefits of a Headless CMS-backed site for specific use cases as I’ll outline below.

There is also a growing cohort of users who have experience with the limitations of page-builders as a company scales. They want to avoid the downstream pain of a site migration off WordPress to a more modern CMS like Headless while also baking in a content-first approach from the get-go.

The following represent some recent examples of Headless CMS-backed deployments that help to illustrate the versatility of the platform.

Startup Websites

The Contento website is an example of a starter site built on top of the Contento CMS. The resultant benefits to us are significant and include:

  • A blazingly quick site

  • A bespoke design that is not constrained by a template

  • An ability to drive organic traffic via an infrastructure optimized for SEO

Another example of a starter site is Skillsvista - also powered by Contento. Skillsvista got a significant upgrade on their WordPress site and now has solid foundations on which to build. 

The landscape for startup websites has changed in recent years. Without prioritizing content production from Day 1 you’ll struggle to appear on Google without paid acquisition. You are better off building on an SEO-friendly scalable platform to begin with.

Josh Angell, CTO of Contento

What Josh is alluding to here, is that Contento bakes in an SEO section specifically designed to support your SEO efforts. The typical speeds achievable on a Headless install will usually trump a page builder (and speed is a key ranking factor for Google) and thus you are set up for success (and will also not need to undertake a traditional CMS to Headless CMS migration downstream) so you are future-proofing your tech stack.

Landing Pages

A landing page is a page with a specific purpose - usually to convert a visitor into a lead. The aim of these pages tends to be to attract Ideal Customer Personas (ICPs) often via paid acquisition (like Google Ads) and to tempt them to download a whitepaper or to schedule a discovery call or demo.

Of course, these can be created in traditional CMS like WordPress (although the design of in-house landing pages tends to be pretty poor) or using a specific landing page solution like Unbounce.

However, it is also possible to create a landing page in a Headless CMS like Contento. The advantages of choosing this option include:

  • Easy ability to duplicate the page and to change words

  • Access library components to facilitate a quick build

  • Modern future-proof tech stack that offers all the advantages of Headless (including performance)

  • An easy-to-use intuitive interface that the marketing team can use to manage the content

Knowledge Base

Knowledge bases have increased in popularity in recent years - in part as an attempt to reduce the need for in-person support. Afterall, a knowledge base is primarily about self service problem solving. 

While the more advanced versions will have a tight integration with a ticketing system, it is also possible to use a knowledge base alongside a form submission if the volume of submissions are low.

By using a Headless CMS like Contento to power a knowledge base you gain additional benefits incl SEO optimization, and the fact the content is accessible via API and thus can feed an in-app knowledge base simultaneously.

API Documentation and Guides

Another use case is to use Headless to power the API documentation and guides portion of your site (where you have one). Again there are a whole raft of tailor-made options for API document management to choose from.

However, if the team is already on a Headless CMS like Contento, you could power the marketing website, landing pages, and API docs and guides from the one back-end.

Like all decisions, it is important to weigh up the feature set. Using a CMS like Contento will bring many of the core features into play, but it won’t ever offer the full suite of features a bespoke solution does. Of course, some people prefer this as they don’t want to have to learn a solution packed with features dealing with every possible edge case and just want it to do a really good job of managing documents. API Docs - A Case Study represents a good example of a leading SaaS company keen to ensure they are ahead of the curve when it comes to adapting the latest cutting-edge technologies. They had 3 different document sites aligned with distinct offerings, and the design of these was a little jaded. Page load time was also an issue and they were keen to simplify the usability of the API references and documents. Moving to a Headless architecture very much aligns with their approach to availing of the latest technologies to support their growth objectives.


While Headless is synonymous with enterprise-grade websites (bespoke design and high performance) its versatility means the use cases are beginning to extend into microsites and specific uses. While these various categories have dedicated offerings most of these are closer to the traditional CMS side of the fence and thus suffer the same issues that are driving increasing numbers of scaling businesses to move to Headless. As this article has illustrated, a Headless deployment can operate effectively across a range of use cases. Perhaps your main marketing site, landing pages, and API docs may all live on the one CMS in the not-too-distant future.

Finally, as the Global Director of Content Management at Optimizely, Deane Barker wrote (all the way back in 2016) when describing use cases for Headless: 

Editorial segmentation, where a subset of editors do a very specific, limited thing, and whom you don’t want to let into the core CMS. Perhaps they just publish blog posts into a larger website, and for this, you don’t need to train them specifically or customize for any specific need they have.

He goes on to add:

Not every editor is created equal, and you might not want to incur the training costs or changes necessary to make your uber-CMS work for absolutely everyone. This is a way to put a subset of editors in a simplified interface and never expose them to all sorts of edge features they’ll never use.

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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