Umbraco Headless

In this post, we will take an in-depth look at what Umbraco Headless is and how it works and differs from ‘normal’ Umbraco.

By Martin Collier, 31 July 2018

Umbraco Headless

In this post, we will take an in-depth look at what Umbraco Headless is and how it works and differs from ‘normal’ Umbraco. We’ll also look at the general benefits for developers and users, as well as specific uses and benefits, skimming over chatbots and applications and any disadvantages.

What is Umbraco Headless and how is it different to ‘normal’ Umbraco?

Umbraco is an open source Content Management System (CMS) platform used for publishing content on the internet or intranets. Written in C# and deployed on Microsoft based infrastructure, it is a very popular CMS for many businesses. In short, the Umbraco CMS is a software application that allows its users to manage both the ‘front end’ and the ‘back end’ of a website. The ‘front end’ of a website is the part that users see and interact with which is a combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript whereas the ‘back end’ of a website consists of a server, an application, and a database.

If we imagine that the ‘front end’ is a head (hair, eyes, teeth) and the ‘back end’ is the body (arms, chest, legs) then Umbraco Headless is a system with the head chopped off; giving its users the ability to update only the content.

In order to be a ‘true’ Headless CMS, the application has to built that way from the ground up. Done any other way, you usually find that the system is given another name such as ‘decoupled’ or ‘hybrid’.

The Benefits of Umbraco Headless

Now we know the difference between a normal CMS and a headless CMS we can look at the benefits of using Umbraco Headless.

It’s safe to say that with an Umbraco Headless project the dependency between the front end and back end has been removed which allows for utilisation of innovative technology which isn’t always possible with a classic CMS setup.

Umbraco Headless also makes it incredibly easy to inform, convince and attract audiences across platforms. Being able to focus on the body means you can pay closer attention to the text, image, and video that you’re sharing with your audience. The system is built with content editors in mind which means you get an improved experience on the normal Umbraco CMS and, in turn, more recently updated content.

The way Umbraco Headless has been developed means that content on any or all of your channels can be made instantly editable. For example, the CMS gives you the ability to edit a product-description in the one place but can allow for this information to be updated across all your channels such as your shop, website, campaign pages and even on chatbots. Umbraco Headless truly built for omnichannel. 

You may have seen chatbots being used by businesses that you are familiar with in order to help their customers with questions, support and even with particular aspects like finalising a sale. Since they are quickly becoming more and more common, companies are looking for the best way to be able to update the content that the chatbots are using and Umbraco Headless gives that ability so that companies don’t leave their customer exiting a conversation because they were tired of waiting. The same idea goes for any applications – you’ll be able to update your content on them as well.


The only real disadvantage of Umbraco Headless we can think of is that it’s not a replacement for traditional Umbraco CMS. This in itself isn’t a disadvantage and there are other solutions on offer such as Umbraco Cloud that you can use. Umbraco Headless is actually a fantastic solution for Single Page Applications (a website that behaves more like an application for user experience purposes).


For forward-thinking companies that really want to take advantage of an omnichannel CMS  that allows marketing teams to focus on what is important to them, Umbraco Headless is a fantastic solution. 

The Zen Agency have supplied some of the most well-known brands with websites and other solutions that use the Umbraco CMS. If you have an interest in the solution or a project that would benefit from using Umbraco then please get in touch with us on 01412291333. 

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