We're recognized by the industry, trusted by partners, and valued by customers Read more
blog Content Management

Typical Scenarios for Kentico Cloud as a Headless CMS

By Petr Palas Dec 15, 2016

We get many questions from customers who want to know what types of projects are the best fit for Kentico Cloud. The short answer is you can use it for any website or mobile app that benefits from a headless CMS approach. However, there's more you should know, and that's why we wrote more detailed guidelines.

Below, you can find a reference list of various scenarios. The stars represent how Kentico Cloud fits the given scenario. We also provide a comparison with Kentico EMS, our traditional CMS. As Kentico Cloud continues to mature, we will update these guidelines.

Common Website Scenarios

Content-oriented microsite or brochure website 

Kentico Cloud provides content management functionality and a super-fast API that can be used to display the content on any website. You can take your static HTML prototype and convert it into a dynamic website step by step by simply removing static parts with dynamic content retrieved from the headless CMS. Moreover, Kentico Cloud is provided as a cloud service, so no CMS installation is required, and you can use any technology stack to run the website.

Kentico EMS provides all the functionality you need to build a microsite or brochure website. You can install it on-premise or in the cloud, but you need to take care of the CMS. The presentation is coupled with the CMS, so you need to use .NET.

Single page application with heavy use of JavaScript frameworks that requires a high level of control over HTML code 

Kentico Cloud allows you to retrieve content using its super-fast REST API in your JavaScript code and display it as you need. Since it's a headless CMS, you have absolute control over your HTML and JavaScript code.

Kentico EMS allows you to build single page applications using its REST API. However, it misses the flexibility and ease of deployment provided by Kentico Cloud, and you may not be able to benefit from its advanced functionality.

Website with a complex content governance process 

Kentico Cloud provides a basic collaborative workflow with version history (revisions). A role-based access control will be introduced during January 2017. The workflow functionality will evolve for more complex scenarios in the future.

Kentico EMS comes with a powerful workflow functionality including a drag-and-drop visual workflow designer, complex conditions, and custom steps that enable an easy integration with external services, such as translation management solutions. It also provides highly customizable access control.

Website in multiple languages 

Updated in October 2017.

Kentico Cloud provides you with Content Localization for translating content and managing it in multiple languages. Flexible fallback rules allow you to choose which language variant should be displayed if the required one isn't available.

Kentico EMS allows you to manage content in any number of languages, edit it side-by-side and use a fallback mechanism to display content in a default language if the content is not translated. You can also export the content into XLIFF format, send it for translation through a translation management service, and import it back.


Kentico Cloud allows you to create a blog site with a completely custom look and feel. Since it's provided as a cloud service, you don't have to install the CMS, and you only take care of your blog code.

Kentico EMS provides everything you need to run a blog site. However, it may be overkill for simple blog sites.

Static websites with content managed by a CMS 

Static websites are regaining popularity due to the growing use of front-end development frameworks as well as performance and security needs. 

You can use Kentico Cloud to manage the content and then generate static pages using a custom script. Or you can enhance static pages with content provided dynamically through Kentico Cloud API, using simple JavaScript code. You can also track customer engagement on static websites.

While Kentico EMS allows you to build static websites, you won't be able to leverage most of its advanced functionality as it's tightly connected to its presentation layer.

Websites and applications on any platform 

Kentico Cloud was built as an API-first service which means it can be used on any platform.

While you can publish Kentico EMS content using its REST API on any platform, you may not be able to leverage all its capabilities outside the .NET website.

Empowering Marketers

Websites managed by marketers with very limited developer assistance 

Kentico Cloud uses a headless approach, which means the presentation is fully driven by the code. Unlike Kentico EMS, Kentico Cloud doesn't provide the concept of web parts or widgets that could be managed by marketers. You can emulate some of this behavior by using modular content in Kentico Cloud that enables some level of flexibility in the composition of content from multiple content entries e.g. to define the content of a side column. However, there's no drag-and-drop interface or configurable widgets. While this approach supports best practices around content reuse and multichannel publishing, we realize it may be limiting for a traditional page-oriented approach, and we plan to address that during 2017.

Kentico EMS allows marketers to drag and drop widgets in zones on the page defined by a developer and configure them for advanced scenarios, such as personalization. It empowers marketers to achieve more without depending on developers.

Website with advanced online marketing functionality 

While Kentico Cloud provides basic behavior and profile tracking and allows you to personalize content based on this data, you need to use third-party products for more complex scenarios, such as marketing automation, lead scoring, or email marketing.

Kentico EMS provides an advanced Online Marketing feature set fully integrated with its WCM and E-commerce offering.

Tracking customer behavior and personalization of the customer experience 

Kentico Cloud provides tracking capabilities for websites running on any platform. The collected data can be used to personalize the customer experience. It currently misses some advanced features, but it will evolve in the upcoming months.

Kentico EMS provides advanced tracking and personalization capabilities for Kentico-based websites that can be managed by marketers.

Multichannel Publishing

Native mobile application or a combination of website and mobile application 

Kentico Cloud allows you to manage content in a structured format that can be used across any channels via its API.

Kentico EMS allows you to provide content to native mobile applications using its REST API. However, its content model and some content management functionality are primarily built with web pages in mind.

Complex multichannel content delivery 

Besides web and mobile, there are many other channels through which customers are engaging with brands. Use cases spanning from in-store kiosks, through smart watch apps displaying the latest updates based on geofencing data provided by the device, to product descriptions displayed while using your augmented reality app or headset while walking through the market. These are all real-world use cases that require CMS solutions to provide a reliable and fast content delivery. Additional channels include print, email, social, content aggregators, or virtual reality.

The API-first nature of Kentico Cloud makes it an ideal solution for these cases.

While Kentico EMS provides a REST API that makes it possible to deliver content to channels other than web or mobile, it requires a certain level of custom development to build additional layers of Web APIs on top of the REST API to provide the necessary level of abstraction and control over the output.

Scenarios beyond content management and publishing

E-commerce sites 

Kentico Cloud doesn't provide any e-commerce functionality out of the box. You can only use it to manage the product catalog content. Still, you can enhance it with custom code for an online store or integrate a 3third-party e-commerce solution if needed. From a different perspective, you can use Kentico Cloud to manage content for your e-commerce site if your e-commerce solution doesn't provide a strong content management story.

Kentico EMS combines WCM, E-commerce, and Online Marketing solutions in a single fully-integrated product.

Portals and membership sites 

This scenario includes intranets, partner portals, client portals, communities, association member sites, etc.

Kentico Cloud currently doesn't support member-only access to content, so any published content is available to anybody through its API. This makes it unsuitable for intranet/portal scenarios.

Kentico EMS comes with a built-in intranet solution and supports membership-only sites with advanced user management functionality.

Other specialized scenarios

Content production independent of the CMS 

You can use Kentico Cloud to produce structured content and then import it into a CMS or other system of your choice.

Kentico EMS can be used for such a scenario, but it wasn't built for that.

Centralized management of all your marketing content in one place 

You can use Kentico Cloud to manage any content in the cloud and then distribute it to any channel or other tools, such as CMS, E-commerce, PIM, etc.

Kentico EMS can be used for such a scenario, but it wasn't built for that.

Conducting a content audit during a website redesign 

You can use Kentico Cloud to review the content and collaborate with others. Then, you can import the content to any CMS or publish it directly through the Delivery API.

While Kentico EMS can be used for such a scenario, it wasn't built for that purpose, and it misses the convenience of content collaboration provided by Kentico Cloud.

If you haven't found a scenario you're interested in or need more details, please contact us.

And as an added bonus, if you need to present these scenarios to any colleagues or anyone that might be interested, you can check out this presentation we put together for you to use.

Subscribe to Kentico Kontent Newsletter

Stay in the loop. Get the hottest updates while they’re fresh!


We are Kentico.