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12 Best Free & Paid Headless CMS Of 2021

  Mar 08, 2021   ReactJS Amit Khirale

Headless cms


The world of business is changing as the digital era ushers in. The internet has been content-driven than it ever was, having a profound influence on online visitors/customers. It is evident that you need to create and publish high-quality content that helps businesses grow and connect with new people, and give them an outstanding digital experience. However, it is no less a fact that delivering poor content can even potentially prevent you and your customers from having a smooth digital journey. It is highly crucial to be at the top of the digital realm, for a better online experience. The right usage of the tools to deliver quality content is a top priority for all businesses that want to hold onto their position. 

Publishing high content quality was made easier with the advent of Headless Content Management Systems. Unfortunately, the traditional CMS (Content Management System) tools were not able to address the underlying user needs in numerous ways, like providing the required flexibility, integrating new delivery formats, or delivering the content to an existing channel. Hereafter the era of IoT (Internet of Things) makes a move towards the human world, escalating the need for headless CMS that can pose challenges in traditional CMS. Let’s learn about What does a headless CMS means.

What is a Headless CMS and how does it work?

To characterize what a headless CMS is, we need to comprehend the distinction between a headless CMS and a traditional (or conventional) CMS.

Headless CMS is like decoupled CMS. Decoupled basically implies that the backend and the frontend management of a site are partitioned into two separate frameworks. In a decoupled framework, when content is made and altered in the backend of a site, it is sent through an application programming interface (API) and afterward distributed in the frontend of the site. 

Decoupled frameworks furnish programmers with maximum asset management flexibility while allowing advertisers to utilize a program that isn't very specialized. It's usually viewed as the best of both worlds. 

A headless CMS does not have a proper front-end delivery layered content authoring interface, which is why it functions more like a live content repository equipped with APIs. These APIs themselves connect with front-end delivery systems, helping brands to publish across multiple channels. This means that the data can be transferred to any part of the web post retrieving from a central content repository using APIs which creates an advantage for publishing across channels.

Headless CMS solutions are the most common among the CMS leaders like WordPress, Drupal, and many more. 

Top 12 Most Popular Headless CMS of 2021

The year 2020 has witnessed an advance in technology and more accessibility towards building content APIs for a new era of headless CMS solutions. A CMS or content management is a tool that helps users to create, manage and edit the content on a website without the need to have specialized technical knowledge. It is evident that the coming years would see an acceleration in this trend creating new choices and customization options for individuals and enterprises, big or small. 

The post covid era will see a significant rise in the use of headless CMS. As the year 2020 adjusted to better support 100% remote work, the trend is most likely to continue in 2021. The way human interactions will take place will rapidly grow, hereafter, expanding the audiences that will access the content and will become a lot multi-layered. As per Forbes, by 2025, the market for smart home devices is bound to reach  $174 billion. 

As of now, it looks like the headless CMS solutions are here to stay. The advent of so many headless CMS in the market has made it hard to pin down a reliable solution equipped enough to fuel your unique and specific digital presence for the near future. Hence we thought of putting up the top 12 headless cms of 2021 that will be pretty influential for the year. 

Contentful

Contentful is one of the top headless CMS and an API-driven platform that was founded in 2013. The developer tool has a headquarter in Berlin with workplaces in San Francisco. The content infrastructure provides the RESTful API to manage, integrate, and deliver content and have full programmatic control of their digital assets. External CDN integration and the caching technique assist the stage with conveying API payloads that are beneath the 100ms territory. Contentful can show JSON scraps and a rich-word processor. 

Contentful itself isn’t a CMS but it is a content infrastructure or CDN used for delivering content. It permits you to make your own content models and characterize your own constructions to be displayed however you’d like. Contentful sees itself as platform-agnostic (pure headless), which is beneficial for the developer’s team as teams can disseminate or reuse content across any channel. 

Features: 

  • RESTful API with compact JSON to control. 
  • Language and framework are agnostic.
  • Advanced caching techniques to optimize for speed.
  • Microservices architecture to ensure a fault-tolerant content platform.
  • Optimized mobile performance and support for offline persistence.
  • Open-source libraries to customize your editorial interface.

Pricing:

Basic- Free (Ideal for individual developers)

Pro- $489; custom plans available for enterprises. 

Companies using Contentful:

  • Hims & Hers, PubNub, Samsara.

Strapi

Strapi is the leading 100% Javascript, fully customizable open-source headless CMS, that looks into all the content management and API needs for developers.  It is built with React for delivering a large amount of dynamic content. With several React development company in the market, it becomes convenient for Organizations of all sizes to utilize Strapi for production. 

In minutes, you have a working API and can focus on creating programming without the issue of CMS intricacies. All your information is made accessible through a 100% adaptable API to be an ideal met for your requirements. They deal with the backend for you so you don't need to.  

Strapi endeavors to empower developers to focus on composing reusable application rationale as opposed to investing in energy building framework. The platform was intended for building Node.js applications in a matter of hours instead of weeks and is fabricated totally with Javascript, as well. There are modules that permit the platform to be expanded.  Strapi empowers content-rich experiences to be made, with general availability to some other service and full customization possibilities, while giving its client outright control over their information. 

Features:

  • Multi-databases support a varied range of choices to pick from.
  • Customizable API to edit your code as per your needs.
  • Auto-generated documentation with one-click integration. 
  • 100% JavaScript usage from front to back.
  • Simple and intuitive interface to build your content types.
  • GraphQL or RESTful API for mobile apps.

Pricing:

Basic: Free forever

Pro: $29/mo - $299 /mo

Companies using Strapi:

  • Beshak, AllDadsTalk, Hackdoor

Read More:Top Mobile App Development Frameworks In 2021

Storyblok

Storyblok is a headless CMS that includes a visual editor for non-technical users for a better user experience of a page builder. Storyblok is based in Austria and was established in 2017. Apart from that the purely headless Content management system, generates APIs of content they will need, for consuming applications websites, and more. It’s no wonder that it has widely grown in popularity. 

Storyblok encourages your group to recount your story and oversee content for each use-case: corporate sites, online business, helpdesks, mobile applications, and screen displays. Storyblok is a Headless CMS with a Visual Editor for developers, advertisers, and content editors. The problem is that managing computerized content with a open source headless CMS can be a troublesome task. Without a visual see, editors are frequently lost and need guidance in any event, for basic changes. This can be resolved as Storyblok has the client experience of a page builder with an advanced headless architecture behind. This gives the developer opportunity and the manager a self-clarifying natural interface. 

Features:

  • Nestable content blocks to make content management easier.
  • Custom Field Types to edit interface with your own plugins.
  • Content staging workflow to test your content before it goes live.
  • Image resizing to transform your images for fast websites and apps.
  • Intuitive activity log to track changes at any point.

Pricing:

Basic: $0-$7/mo

Pro: $12/mo- $21/mo

Companies using Storyblok: 

  • Roomle, sales expert, Filestar, smec

Sanity.io

Sanity is a content platform and an industry-driving headless CMS that is trusted by giant corporations like Nike, National Geographic, Sonos, Cloudflare, Netlify, Eurostar, and Invision. has customization at its center, offers top tier cooperation, and gives a pathway to constant scaling on secure and consistent cloud foundation. Engage groups of all sizes with constant cooperation: full form control with tracking and rollback, live preview, multiplayer features, and that's only the tip of the iceberg. 

Adaptability and flexibility are the core structures of Sanity. Developers can redo the editing environment using JavaScript and React, and effectively coordinate the backend with ground-breaking APIs and rich information displaying capacities. It comes with constant cooperation and support scaling with your organization's requirements on a secure and agreeable cloud framework. Sanity.io includes a WYSIWYG rich content manager which permits you to install editable information in running text and defer markup to deliver time. It additionally accompanies a Sweet Query API that empowers you to reserve various questions on a single request. 

Pricing:

  • upto $199 per month per project

Companies using Sanity:

  • National Geographic, Sonos, Nike, Cloudflare, Eurostar, Netlify. 

Kentico Kontent

Kentico Kontent is a headless CMS that works on content creation for advertisers so they can focus on making great content without requiring a developer. This liberates developers to concentrate on what they excel at building engaging online experiences that look amazing in each channel. This has been an intriguing few years for Kentico as they've developed from a traditional CMS to moving their framework to the cloud with Kentico Cloud, and are currently rebranding their content as-a-administration offering to Kentico Kontent. 

The new Kentico Kontent guarantees a Content Delivery API that makes your organized content consumable on any device. A portion of the features that the stage incorporates is a content management API that takes into account content utilization, webhooks, and custom components that power integrations to other third-party software. 

Kentico also offers a group of different instruments, for example, an AI chatbot. A few customers that utilize Kentico are Leo Express, Luminary, Little Dot Studios, and others. It provides enterprises all the headless CMS benefits while engaging advertisers simultaneously because of its rich substance operations highlights.

Pricing:

  • From $999/month - $1,999/month; custom enterprise plans available.

Companies using Kontent -

  • Vogue, Discover Ireland, Leo Express

Agility CMS

Agility CMS is a Content-First Headless CMS, that exposes content via APIs, allowing you to choose any programming language so developers can build whatever application or website they’d like as per your preference. This helps them in getting the flexibility, speed, and power coming from lightweight APIs. With Agility CMS, Content Managers can really have a full force and command over their substance. The Freedom to Build What You Want, How You Want It. With Agility, engineers can convey substance to any front end utilizing any coding language by means of RESTful APIs, our opensource SDKs, and JAMstack advances. With all the features of a headless CMS and the recognizable authoring devices that advertisers know and love, Agility will satisfy everybody in your group. 

Pricing:

Basic: Free upto 5 users.

Pro: $47/mo- $579/mo; Enterprise plans from $2500/mo.

Companies using Agility:

  • Oxford, VisitOrlando, SCENE

Prismic

Launched in 2013, Prismic has grown to become one of the most widely popular headless CMS and a go-to option for many well-known giants, Google, Deliveroo, and Netflix. The reason for this is that the tools that Prismic uses cater to your needs, and allows you to choose your preferred technology, framework, language to manage your content in an easy and streamlined process. 

To make it even better, it supports local integrations with such notable eCommerce hefty hitter frameworks as Magneto and Shopify. Since you can use various frameworks with Prismic, arranging your task with this tool is vital to progress. Each structure has its own properties and favorable circumstances, quick delivering, SEO, simplicity of arrangement, or progressive enhancement. 

Pricing:

  • $15 per month per project

Companies using Prismic:

  • Clubhouse, Yousign, SocialDog, Blair, asencis, Nutmeg

Mura

Mura, an imaginative and flexible content management system has taken the CMS market by storm. Due to its appealing and natural administration panel, the no-code arrangement, it offers the simple to deploy UI, Mura may simply have the high ground with respect to different CMS. The actual framework was born out of a desire for a Swiffer digital experience, with its makers resolving to put relentless in product and administration progressions. 

Companies using Mura:

  • Adventure Cycling Association, Didaxo, Scientific American

Magnolia

Magnolia is one of the oldest and the best headless content management systems. It is even older than Prismic and was founded back in 1997. This CMS has great features to offer like creation, management, and delivering content across many known channels. One of the strongest points of Magnolia is its personalization and in-context editing. It is a professional headless CMS that is known to be a smart investment for serious business because it lets editors and authors streamline their work without an intervention by the developers to change the content. This headless CMS solution lets the developers mingle around with other front-end platforms like Vue, Angular, or React for an even more profound user experience. 

Pricing:

  • $10000 per year. Free trial available

Companies using Magnolia:

  • Adyen, Signify, AEDAS Homes, AIL, Air Europa

Netlify

Another open-source headless CMS, Netlify can be effectively utilized with any static generator for a more charming and quicker web project. Developed as a single-page React application, when you use Nelify, your content is put away in your Git store alongside the code that will assist you with multi-channel distributing, forming, and direct Git-based content updates.  The editor-friendly UI, the instinctive idea of the framework, and the capacity to get to it immediately without enlisting on GitHub beforehand will make Netlify one of the top headless frameworks in 2021 without a doubt. 

Pricing

Basic: Free 

Pro: $19-$99 per month; Customizable enterprise plans available.

Companies using Netlify:

  • Flexport, Google, TriNet, LiveChat

Directus

Directus is a potential headless CMS-mostly used for modified data set projects. The actual stage is composed of backbone.js, and REST is liable for the API. To finish it off, it's fueled by PHP. what’s more? It's a free piece of open-source programming with no sort of limits, licenses, premium versions, or trials. 

This headless framework stores all framework information independently. This empowers clients to have complete power over the whole mapping and can oversee existing data sets freely. On either hand, Information tracking and potential rollbacks, help prevent and loss of information. Directus additionally sports a programmed interface that is convenient and simple to utilize. 

Pricing:

Basic: 0$- $29 per month

Pro: $99 per month- $249 per month

Companies using Directus:

  • Localazy, Swipestyle, mutor GmbH.

Butter CMS

Butter CMS is one of the top headless CMS that enables easy data transfer from the traditional CMS. This headless CMS makes use of adaptable content modeling, exhaustive modification histories, planning, and a whole lot more. 

The actual framework comes in four unique plans. You can either select a blog for $40 every month, a startup plan for $99/month, or a private venture plan for $208 per month. Finally, there's additionally an exceptional arrangement for organizations and endeavors. In case you're anticipating non-business personal use, there is a free developer plan for you. 

Pricing:

Basic:  From $49 /mo

Pro: $124 /mo- $249 /mo; Customizable enterprise plans available

Companies using Butter CMS: 

  • Innofactor, Tutormapper, Techfugees, Urbanity

Conclusion

It is evident that you need to stay afloat in the digital realm and create, manage, push and deliver quality content. If you create a paramount significance in the digital sphere you will need to start using the right CMS that can make that entire process a cakewalk. It is crucial to use a platform that aligns most with your preferences and requirements. The above-mentioned top 12 headless CMS have been dominating the market for the past few years they will be most certainly going strong in 2021 as well. 

Read More: Flutter vs React Native – What to Choose in 2021?

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