About This Constellation ShortList™

A headless CMS is a content development, aggregation, storage, and management solution that is fully disconnected from any specific presentation layer. Instead, via RESTful API and content services, a headless CMS connects content from a back-end system to pull content into any number of front-end delivery layers. This enables content—along with the workflows, processes, and controls associated with that asset—to be created regardless of programming, development, or the environment language of the end delivery platform or device.

This separation serves several important purposes, chief among them freeing content creators from the confines of delivery destination limitations while also freeing front-end presentation developers from the inefficiency of developing for single-use applications. Because front-end and back-end systems are separated, developers, creators, and builders can update any underlying system as needed and independently of one another. Headless CMS depends on developer resources, so marketing teams should take note that there is no WYSIWYG editor in a headless CMS.

There is a broad market for content management solutions, ranging from traditional website-based systems to decoupled, serverless or hybrid solutions and enterprise-wide content solutions. While this category has been building steam for years, adjacent platforms in web and content are providing builders and creators with more options across web operations and enterprise content. These options are bridging gaps between the different stakeholders involved in digital engagement and will continue to put pressure on purely headless offerings to innovate for the expanding stakeholder audience. This ShortList narrows the view to headless solutions. The other types of solutions are not inferior to headless solutions…but they are different, and Constellation Research assesses them separately.

Threshold Criteria

Constellation considers the following criteria for these solutions:

  • Distinct headless architecture (microservices)
  • RESTful API
  • Workflows
  • Rule- and role-based permissions
  • Flexible content modeling, including content taxonomy, sorting, and validations
  • Localization capabilities for global deployment
  • Security and compliance (access controls and authentication measures)
  • Editor interface for creating, editing, and previewing
  • Support services to aid with development and deployment
  • Community and user support
  • Best practices, especially for channel-specific presentation support and innovation
  • API connections for collecting data for use in personalization and contextual content push
  • Global CDN
  • AI/ML powered contextual search, smart tagging, image/content recognition, and smart recommendations for content implementation

The Constellation ShortList™

Constellation evaluates more than 40 solutions categorized in this market. This Constellation ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, customer references, vendor selection projects, market share, and internal research.

  • Adobe Experience Manager
  • ButterCMS
  • Brightspot
  • Contentful
  • Contentstack
  • CraftCMS
  • GraphCMS
  • Kontent
  • MagnoliaCMS
  • Storyblok

Frequency of Evaluation

Each Constellation ShortList will be updated at least once per year. There could be an update after six months, should the analyst deem it necessary.

Evaluation Services

Constellation clients may work with the analyst and research team to conduct a more thorough discussion, vendor selection and contract negotiation.

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