Roger Jin


Headless CMS vs Traditional CMS

If you’ve worked with content management systems in the past, you’ve likely worked with a traditional CMS like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla.

Headless CMS’s like ButterCMS provide a UI and back-end for managing content, along with an API for integrating that dynamic content into your website.

So why should you consider a headless CMS instead of the trusty-old traditional CMS you’ve been using for years?

In a gist, headless CMS’s offer all the same editing capabilities of traditional CMS’s, but are significantly easier for developer to setup and maintain. This means spending less time and money working on implementing your CMS, and more time focusing on things important to your business.

Here’s a break down of the differences for developers:


With traditional CMS’s, websites must be built “on top” of the CMS, requiring you to learn and (re-)build your website based on CMS rules and processes. With a headless CMS, you can incrementally sprinkle CMS functionality where needed with just a couple lines of code.


Traditional CMS’s require a database and server hosting. Headless CMS’s require no hosting (although there are self-hosted options).

Code Complexity

With traditional CMS’s, content, CMS code, and website code coexist and intertwine to create complexity and less maintainable codebases. When using a headless CMS, content exists separately and is rendered within website codebase via simple API calls.


With traditional CMS’s, websites must be built in a specific programming language or framework. Headless CMS’s integrate with any codebase so you can use your preferred language and framework to build your website.


Traditional CMS’s require frequent security upgrades and other maintenance like server monitoring and database backups. Forgetting to stay on top of security upgrades can be catastrophic. SaaS headless CMS’s take care of security and maintenance for you so you can focus on more important things.

Wrap Up

Ask most developers and they’ll tell you that working on content management ranks low on their list of interesting work. Headless CMS’s eliminate many of the pains of CMS’s so development teams can get the job done and move onto more important projects.

If you’re interested in trying the headless approach, be sure to check out ButterCMS, a headless CMS that lets you build CMS-powered apps using any programming language including Ruby, Rails, Node.js.NET, Python, Phoenix, Django, Flask, React, Angular, Go, PHP, Laravel, Elixir, and Meteor.

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