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Why go headless with a hybrid CMS?

Choosing Enonic as your hybrid CMS instead of a pure headless vendor can yield some great advantages for your organisation.

It is a fact that the digital experiences of today are fragmented: content is now consumed in devices ranging from desktop computers and mobile phones to wearables and IoT, as well as channels ranging from websites and apps to APIs and social media.

Content is no longer closely linked to the way it is presented. You do not necessarily know how your content will look for the end user—who may digest it using a standard computer screen, a fitness tracker, a kitchen appliance, or as part of a third party website.

Due to this general trend, most CMS vendors have shifted or are in the process of shifting their offerings to be able to run in headless mode. But the pure headless vendors are also making a shift of their own.

Tony Byrne from Real Story Group writes: “I believe larger enterprises in particular will want flexibility, and this is why traditional CMS vendors are (sometimes slowly) finding their way to "hybrid" options.”

In other words, every content management system will end up as a hybrid CMS sooner og later. But not all vendors are alike. Enonic can for instance offer 20 years of experience mixed with new and agile technology in our approach to hybrid CMS, as well as being content driven to the core.

Let us delve deeper into the advantages of our hybrid solution.

See how Enonic fits your current architecture and skill set:

Spec sheet: How Enonic fits your requirements

More possibilities with hybrid

But what is a hybrid CMS really? A hybrid CMS combines a traditional CMS with a headless CMS, which means you can have your cake and eat it too.

A traditional CMS maintains a close connection between content and presentation—giving editors full content preview, landing page editing, URL management, access control, and a media repository. At the same time, developers can code, test, and deploy content and end user functionality bundled together. Needless to say, this traditional approach is challenging in an omnichannel world.

A headless CMS is targeting precisely this omnichannel challenge. Being essentially a database with structured content, a headless CMS then distributes the content via APIs to any required client—apps, browsers, devices—and handles the responsibility of presentation to each one. Headless may simplify scaling, monitoring, and backups, but at the cost of flexibility and control.

A hybrid CMS combines the omnichannel distribution of structured content by headless CMS with the URL management, previewing, and landing page editing of the traditional CMS. While a traditional CMS makes perfect sense if your organisation only needs a standard website, a headless CMS similarly makes sense if you only need an app. If you have greater requirements, a hybrid CMS like Enonic XP should be your cup of tea.

headless hybrid traditional cms flow chart

Learn more: Hybrid or headless CMS – what to choose?

More flexibility to customise APIs

A pure headless CMS is often only available as a cloud service, and not as a software. Among other things, this means that the framework is set in stone, with only a fixed API delivered by the vendor for you to manage.

Enonic XP, on the other hand, is an open source platform where you can add custom code. In addition to this, Enonic features a comprehensive GraphQL API. The API is automatically generated and can be customised using server-side JavaScript, which gives developers full flexibility and freedom to build the solution you want.


Content preview is a natural deficiency in a headless CMS. In Enonic XP, however, previewing is available out of the box in the embedded CMS and GUI Content Studio.

But, due to the nature of omnichannel delivery, previews can be complicated. A preview in Content Studio might show you different screen sizes for your website through the included Emulator widget, but this will probably not account for all apps, wearables, and IoT.

In cases like this, it is important to remember that the Enonic preview will not necessarily be exactly how your content will look in any given channel. But Enonic can give you a general preview—to get the gist of how the content looks and feels.

See also: 6 reasons to choose Enonic as your hybrid CMS »


One of the disadvantages with headless CMS is the simple nature of it being more or less a database. Organising content or getting a tidy overview may become difficult in larger projects based on such a standard database viewing.

With Enonic you get content tree navigation, familiar from browsing in operating systems. Content items are placed in a logical hierarchy, structured in a classical family tree with parents, siblings, and children. Furthermore, content types are easily recognisable by iconography.

headless cms content studio flexible

Run anywhere

While Enonic does offer a fully managed experience cloud, we also offer software. This allows for more control if there are special requirements to your projects—pertaining to matters of e.g. legal or corporate natures.

In addition, it is possible to run Enonic XP on premise or in any public cloud—whatever suits your organisation. Finally, Enonic is open source, which lets your developers test and modify the software according to the GPLv3 license.

Learn more: This is what customers say about Enonic »

Content hub

The red line running throughout Enonic is content. Our Content Studio is the one place to rule them all: every item is defined as a content type, which enables a powerful usage of structured content to be reused across channels.

Content Studio also features responsive design, user-friendly UX, integrations with third-party best of breed marketing tools, as well as a strong suite of innate tools—like the image editor, landing page editor, publishing wizard, dependency widget, and issues management.

As a final note, by being a content hub Enonic is especially suited for modern ContentOps principles, which are making headway into the world of digital experiences as we speak. Featuring a strong suite of qualities, Enonic unites your content professionals, editorial processes, and editing and distribution technology in one place—allowing for a seamless orchestration of content production to fit neatly between your organisation’s strategy and delivery.


Enonic is a hybrid CMS, offering the best of both worlds with headless delivery to any channel and traditional content authoring for still important tasks such as maintaining your website, perform previewing, handle URLs, edit landing pages, and keeping a tidy content structure.

A hybrid CMS fulfills more scenarios than both headless and traditional systems can do on their own, and Enonic is especially flexible with a platform to add your custom code, a powerful GraphQL API, and the ability to run on premise or in any cloud.

Spec sheet: How Enonic fits your requirements

hybrid cms
headless cms
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Enonic XP