Top headless CMS for jamstack in 2023
Picking the "right" Headless CMS for your web project isn't easy. There are many factors to consider when choosing one, and with all of the options available right now –there are A LOT of them, it can be very daunting to choose one.
For example, should you choose Contentful, Agility CMS, or maybe Sanity? Or is it Dato?
But what about Prismic and Kontent?
I only mentioned a few, and it's already too much, isn’t it?
So, how can you choose the right one for your unique use case if the current Headless CMS market is so saturated?
Luckily for you, we’ve tested most of the Jamstack headless CMS platforms in the market and can list the pros and cons of each one. So we know what works, what doesn't, and, most importantly, what works for you.
To help you in your search, we’ve curated a list of five enterprise-grade headless content management systems.
Below you can find a list of the best Headless content management system to use for Jamstack in 2023. Tested and proven by Ikius in real-world projects.
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Hygraph is a solid CMS option for complex projects where you need flexibility and power. The platform makes it easy to set up content schemas, edit markdown files, and handle different content types. Also, Hygraph comes with a native GraphQL playground to help you visualize the structure of your schemas. However, despite being technically advanced, it doesn’t hang content editors out to dry, giving them easy-to-use tools to edit schemas and content models.
However, it’s worth noting that Hygraph doesn’t allow you to add custom fields and data types in the Hygraph dashboard. Also, it makes it hard to convert one object into another, so you have to create generic content blocks for different content types manually – Also, Hygraph, if you’re listening, could you implement a dark mode option?
Good for: Complex web apps where flexibility is a must
Price range: $0-$799 and up/month. Scales by usage
Goes well with: Vercel, Next.js, and React
We are Hygraph implementation partners.
💡 Hygraph offers robust native localization capabilities. You can use its native localization plugin to create content in different languages and present it to visitors depending on their location. Still, despite being one of the most technically advanced options on the list, developers and businesses are a bit daunted by its price, which can be expensive compared to other options.
But if we can say something about Hygraph, it excels at providing a great developer experience. If you have a strong team of developers who know their way around the Jamstack ecosystem and GraphQL APIs, there’s nothing you can’t build with Hygraph.
Why choose Hygraph as your Headless CMS?
Robust SEO capabilities
Responsive support team
Easy-to-use content schemas
Support for GraphQL and REST APIs
Can be used by technical and non-technical teams
If you're planning on migrating from WordPress to a Jamstack CMS, Agility CMS is a no-brainer. Agility is best suited for larger enterprise websites with a lot of content that requires a robust content editor.
Due to Agility CMS' "agility," it's very easy to migrate old content from WordPress, headless WordPress, or Drupal –any traditional CMS, really– and preserve your sitemap, asset URLs, all with a minimal negative impact on your website’s SEO and user experience when migrating.
Good for: Larger web applications and enterprise single web applications. Great when migrating from WordPress since Agility offers easy data import
Price range: $900-1800 and up / month.
💡 Editing your sitemap in Agility CMS: Changing URL structure in Agility CMS is as easy as dragging and dropping your content and assets into the CMS.
Agility CMS is probably the only notable Jamstack Headless content platforms with built-in sitemap management (see the above video) – this is a huge pro because you can compose pages any way you like, which is essential if you're actively maintaining and updating content for SEO reasons.
Having a sitemap manager built-in is also immensely beneficial for developers since they don't have to worry about generating hard-coded page paths; in contrast, this allows content editors to compose pages in the sitemap wherever they like.
Agility is the only content platform in this list that offers all SEO fields built-in (kind of like Yoast with WordPress), which is great if you’re a content editor, content creator, or marketer. Surprisingly, other Headless CMS don't have SEO fields built-in. Combine this with sitemap and page management and the ability to add structured content to your Jamstack website, and you're well set for SEO just by using one of the Jamstack Next.js starters Agility CMS provides.
Agility allows you to work faster and automatically makes your content operations 100% more organized than any other Headless CMS. Frankly, it just makes sense.
With other Headless CMS, you'll constantly be doing tedious manual labor for sitemap management, API queries, and much more. With Agility CMS, all this comes out of the box. This is mostly because Agility's been around for so long that it's undoubtedly the most mature Headless CMS.
Why choose Agility as your headless platform?
Built-in sitemap management
Most SEO fields are built-in; no need to manually define fields for everything
Generates SEO data automatically from page data (kind of like you can with Yoast for WordPress)
Allows you to build a website using a static site generator
It just makes sense since it's been around for so long
Compared to other Headless CMS platforms, it can really cut your web development time in half since many features that others lack are built-in Agility
Great support, community, and very quick response times on Slack
Real-time previews work out of the box when using Agility's Next.js starters – a big plus for content editors
Dato is an excellent choice for smaller projects where you need a high level of modularity while still having many features built-in. Like Agility, Dato provides some SEO fields built-in but not as extensively (You can only configure basic SEO + Open Graph data out of the box).
Dato doesn't have a built-in sitemap and doesn’t allow for structured content, so it's up to you how you'll output your content and which presentation layer you use. It's simple enough to iterate quickly but lets you build more complex layouts thanks to its modularity.
Good for: Small to medium static sites where you need a high level of modularity and solid customer experience
Price range: $0-300
💡 Dato is great for marketing sites that need something a bit more. The platform is user-friendly and easy for non-technical users like a content editor, but don't let the simple UI fool you. Under the hood, Dato is a powerful Jamstack CMS. You can build pretty complex and modular sites with it.
Based on our experience Dato is excellent for smaller marketing sites that require dynamic content. Thanks to Dato's highly configurable block library and modular structure, you can basically build any layout you can imagine with ease.
Dato is very user-friendly, so it's not as intimidating as a heavy-duty enterprise Headless CMS like Sitecore – this is a pro if you're primarily building for non-technical content editors. Also, you can configure Dato's colors and add your preferred logo to Dato in case you're handing over the site to a client. Or why not have your own logo there?
On the technical side of things, Dato CMS fits the Jamstack architecture and ecosystem well, making it a great alternative if you’re building a Jamstack site. Connecting to Vercel is as simple as clicking a button. There's a lot more that's configurable out of the box, and it's worth considering over other providers if you're not a fan of configuring things manually.
Why choose DatoCMS?
Great for iterating, getting up and running quickly
Great for building a static site
Solid developer experience
Highly customizable with modular blocks and settings if you choose to use them
Not intimidating for non-technical users and easy for content editors
Good for small to medium marketing sites
Not as expensive as other providers with similar features
While Uniform is a digital experience platform rather than a CMS, it’s a solid pick for enterprise companies, medium-sized businesses, and online stores looking to create omnichannel digital experiences.
Uniform is an advanced platform that works as a connective tissue that orchestrates the creation of commerce experiences and Jamstack apps using APIs. It provides developers with all the developer-facing tools and UI components to create breathtaking digital experiences. Uniform also provides non-technical users with a host of business-facing no-code UI to manage and create content.
Good for: Enterprise companies, multisite eCommerce stores, and technologically mature businesses that require advanced integrations
Price range: 0 - $2,500 and up
💡 Flexibility is one of Uniform’s main selling points. The platform isn’t tied to a specific headless CMS or commerce engine, making it a great alternative for those who want to build a 100% custom tech stack. However, that flexibility comes at the expense of less technical-minded users, who might find Uniform too much to chew.
If you’re a non-techie who wants to reap the benefits of headless without too many added complexities, Uniform isn’t the tool for you. While you can surely spin up a Uniform-based Jamstack project on the quick, you would only scratch the surface of what the platform is capable of.
However, if you need a solid enterprise-grade platform to create Jamstack projects, Uniform is the best pick. It provides a superb developer experience, superior content delivery capabilities, and a commerce layer for eCommerce stores to build cutting-edge, composable shopping experiences.
Why choose Uniform as your DXP?
No vendor lock-in
Easy to use once configured
Easy to conduct personalization testing
Sanity is a unique Headless CMS and one of the most customizable options. I'd call it a blank canvas or an API-based CMS to describe it briefly.
Sanity doesn't provide any boilerplate fields by default, so you'll have to define everything in code. This is great, but this means you'll have to define your requirements in great detail – if you have an in-house Jamstack developer, this is not a huge deal. On the other hand, Sanity Studio allows you to configure anything just the way you need it - the downside is you'll have to create absolutely everything from scratch, which is time-consuming and might cost you $$$ if you're not hiring a Jamstack development agency.
Good for: For small to enterprise companies that need granular and high-level customizability and have access to frontend developers
Price range: $0-949 and up / month. Scales by usage so you can start small and pay as you scale
Goes well with: Next.js and Vercel
💡 Sanity is fast and powerful with some drawbacks: Sanity feels super responsive and snappy. Technically and architecturally speaking, it's powerful, and you can model any content you can imagine. However, as a drawback, you can't edit the CMS interface without a developer after it's set up. For example, you can't modify the allowed length for a field without configuring it in code, which makes it an unwieldy option for a content editor or marketing team.
Sanity is the most technologically advanced CMS we have used. It's also quick to set up and use if you're a developer or have access to developers. However, there's little that can be done without any developer input. However, this creates a platform where you can build anything imaginable just for you and you only. So, for example, in addition to reading data, you can write data and structured content into Sanity's database. Using this setup, creating a commenting engine with Sanity is easy, for example, where you can store and view user-submitted data straight on Sanity Studio.
With Sanity, real-time previews are a thing, albeit you'll need to do a manual configuration to achieve this.
Why choose Sanity as your Headless CMS?
You need a true Headless CMS where even the interface is optional; however, Sanity offers a standard interface, "Sanity Studio," which is essentially just a highly customizable React app hooked to Sanity's reusable API.
You need a Jamstack website with a super high level of customizability and low-level integrations - this is a double-edged sword; you'll have to create absolutely everything from scratch.
You have enough developer resources when setting up the CMS – it can run independently when set up.
You know what you're doing – you've defined your requirements in great detail in advance. However, as Sanity is a blank canvas, creating a messy CMS structure is easy if you don't have precise requirements for your project.
Too many choices?
We can help you choose
the right headless CMS
Trusted partners: We're partners with most of the platforms on the list and can provide you with top-notch, pre-vetted support.
Team augmentation: Work with a team of solid Nordic developers.
Technology consulting: Besides CMS selection, we help you design the best tech stack for your project.
Contentful is a Headless CMS giant that's mainly focused on larger web projects for enterprise needs. A good choice when you need a high level of reliability for larger projects and guaranteed SLAs or high-quality documentation.
Price range: $0- $1995 and up / month.
Good for: Enterprise web applications that need to integrate with a content delivery network and DevOps processes
Goes well with: Gatsby and Netlify CMS
💡 Contentful is a "standard" CMS: Contentful might be the most comfortable option if you're coming from WordPress; however, it can become quite a mess content-wise if configured incorrectly.
There's really nothing special about Contentful – it's just good and very "standard," if that makes sense. It lacks some features that many other Headless CMS for Jamstack provide, such as easy data import and modular components. It can become quite messy if you're trying to create modular, composable pages with Contentful.
Since Contentful is a huge company, you can expect premium-level support, service, and features if you pay the premium price. Otherwise, I can't recommend Contentful over Agility; it's just too rigid and lacking for the price you pay.
Why choose Contentful as your Headless CMS?
Solid user experience
Powerful media management
Easy to use WYSIWYG editor
7. Kentico Kontent (now Kontent.ai)
Kontent.ai is one of the most user-friendly headless platforms in the market. It’s very flexible and equally solid for both Jamstack developers and non-technical users. In addition, Kontent’s authoring experience allows for quicker content production, modular content reuse, and real-time collaboration between teams.
On the flip side, Kontent is a strong pick for Jamstack developers who need a flexible platform capable of integrating best-of-breed technologies, composable architecture, AI, and the modern frameworks of their choice using APIs to deliver digital experiences to static websites, web apps, and IoT devices.
Price range: $0- $1995 and up / month.
Good for: Single page applications and dynamic content for enterprise companies
Goes well with: Gatsby and Netlify CMS
💡 Kontent understands the struggles of managing content in large organizations. Unlike other CMSs focusing on just one communication channel, Kontent puts content at the center of everything.
Why choose Kontent?
Clean content API
Easy to deploy as part of a CI/CD pipeline
Flexible for both marketers and developers
Prismic is a straightforward Jamstack CMS for smaller website projects. While it's possible to create anything with Prismic, it does not excel in content-heavy digital experiences since it lacks a lot of basic features others provide.
However, this is sometimes a good thing because it's easy to iterate quickly, and small, simple marketing sites are quick to set up with Prismic.
Price range: $0- 500 and everything in between. Scales well with usage.
Good for: Small and quick sites which don't have heavy requirements for content management.
💡 Prismic CMS has a nice minimalistic UI: One of the reasons we love Prismic is its simple and minimalistic UI. It's quick to start and easy to use without deep technical knowledge.
Prismic is OK if you're looking to build a simple Jamstack website with a small budget – if you're building something content-heavy, I would not turn to Prismic and instead invest in something more resilient.
Why choose Prismic as your Headless CMS?
Extremely easy-to-use platform
Strong multilanguage capabilities
No hassle approach to content management
Storyblok is a great headless option for companies that need a marketer-oriented visual editor. Storyblok empowers marketers and content editors to build performant digital experiences, and its API-first architecture ensures that developers have a blank slate to work with. Plus, the ability to drag, drop, and reuse content blocks is a huge time-saver for everyone.
Good for: Non-technical users
Price range: $0-$2,999 and up/month
Goes well with: Vercel, Next.js, and React
💡 However, we feel like there isn’t enough support to build websites and apps using specific frameworks like Next.js as the setup isn’t well documented, which makes things a bit confusing. Also, its visual editor, while great for marketers, can be a pain for developers sometimes, but if you’re already working with developers who want more flexibility and fewer visual features, Storyblok might not be the best solution.
All in all, Storyblok is a very robust CMS for non-technical people. Its visual editor gives novice developers and marketers a solid set of tools they can use to build digital experiences. However, its price makes it prohibitive for budding startups and small eCommerce stores, and its documentation is not up to par with other CMS on this list like Sanity. However, if you want a no-nonsense headless CMS, Storyblok is a great option for you.
Why choose Storyblok as your Headless CMS?
Easy to use starters and support for frontend frameworks
TL;DR and closing words - the best Headless CMS
The best Jamstack CMS for you largely depends on your project requirements, specific needs, and budget.
The Jamstack approach allows for a ton of flexibility, which is why there are many Headless CMS options for many situations. Ultimately, the best Headless CMS for Jamstack depends on your unique use case and needs
For bigger and more serious projects such as enterprise websites, I would go with Agility, but be prepared to pay a premium price. On the other hand, if you have a smaller budget and want to build a Jamstack marketing website, go with something such as Dato or Prismic.
There's no single Headless CMS over the others. Pick your poison. Our insights are based on our experience on real-world projects where we have learned by trial and error what works and what doesn't, so you don't have to!
Too many Headless CMS to choose from?
If you're overwhelmed by the number of options available - we feel you. We provide Headless CMS selection consulting to help you narrow down the best options for your use case based on our research and experience with similar projects.
We help you in 1-to-1 consultations to narrow down the selection to 1-3 options
We've worked with many, if not all, of the available Headless CMS and can help you choose the right one for your use-case