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Headless CMS

Learn what a Headless CMS is, how it differs from traditional content management systems, and why you might choose a headless CMS for your project.

What is a Headless CMS?

A headless content management system or headless CMS, is a CMS in which the content is separated from its presentation. Content management systems such as WordPress and Drupal store content in a database, and use a collection of HTML-based template files to manage how that content gets presented to visitors.

Headless content management systems, on the other hand, return structured data from an API. Rather than merging templates and content to create HTML, a headless CMS returns JSON or unstyled XML. Content creators still use an editing interface to add content to a headless CMS, but the backend management of the site’s content is decoupled from the frontend that displays it.

When your content is available as structured data, it’s available to any client or application that can consume that data whether a JAMStack application, or a mobile device. You can use a headless CMS to provide JSON content source for your Gatsby site and your other content channels.

With plugins, Gatsby supports several headless CMS services, including Contentful, Ghost and Prismic. If you use WordPress, there’s no need to switch. You can use WordPress’ REST API as a headless CMS, so that your content team can continue to use the editing tools with which they’re familiar.

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