A Complete List of Elements you'll need when using a Headless CMS

Will Elliott photoWill Elliott
Writing a blog post

Let's say you are a front-end developer.

And you've been tasked with creating the UI portion of a blog that is powered by a headless CMS like Contentful, Sanity, Prismic, Strapi (or even Wordpress).

There are dozens of elements / components you need to account for. The first time I had to do this, I missed many of them and they popped up in production, completely unstyled 😳

This post is going to be an exhaustive list to make sure you've got all of your bases covered. For a TLDR, scroll to the bottom!

Components that live outside of your content body

1. Breadcrumbs

This is usually one of the first things you'll see on a page, though it's usually less conspicuous since the primary intent is to let search engines know about your site structure and hierarchy.

Breadcrumb structure on Sanity.io
Breadcrumb structure on Sanity.io

To see our Breadcrumb component, go here.

2. The Hero

The "Hero" is your intro to the blog post or article and usually contains four or five pieces:

  • Title

  • Cover image

  • Date published or updated

  • Author info

  • Categories / Tags

Here is a well designed hero from SIG. They also include an intro snippet which gives a brief overview of the content:

Hero intro with title, cover photo, author, and date published
Hero intro with title, cover photo, author, and date published

Check out the docs for our Hero component here.

3. Categories

Categories also known as "gags" are not a necessity but often a good way to bucket your content. You may not even notice them most of the time.

That's because they, like breadcrumbs, are more to please Google in once again understanding the hierarchy of your site's content.

Tags from a Strapi article
Tags from a Strapi article

4. Table of Contents

A table of contents is useful in giving readers a preview of what's to come, and allowing them to jump from section to section.

Once again, and you may be noticing a trend here - this is super helpful in allowing search engines to understand your page's content structure. They can ultimately end up helping your click-through rate on the search pages if you get what are know as jump-to links:

Zen Brief gets jump-to links which improve click-through rate
Zen Brief gets jump-to links which improve click-through rate

See how the first result has extra links below it? This might not seem important but it increases the amount of room your result takes up on the page and statistically improves your click-through rate.

Check out the docs for our Table of Contents component here.

5. Socials

Who knows if anyone actually still clicks these in today's world, but nevertheless we typically want to include either links to our social media pages or shareable links that allow you to share the pages to your social channels.

Socials links from moderntreasury.com
Socials links from moderntreasury.com

Check out the docs for our social media component here.

6. Author Bio

The author bio often comes at the end of the article. As we mentioned before, you can also include some info on your author in the hero. Having a little bit more about the author at the end never hurts, especially when linking to an author bio page.

Keep in mind, the whole goal is to improve that EAT (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness).

Author bio from tsh.io
Author bio from tsh.io

Check out the docs for our author bio component here

7. Sources & Citations

Less rarely needed are the sources and citations section. These are really only necessary for educational material or niches like healthcare and science. We do not yet have a component for this, but will be releasing one in the future.

Sources from healthline.com
Sources from healthline.com

Pretty self explanatory. Another important element for promoting your material and pointing Google to other pages on your site. Remember, interlinking is very important to helping search engines traverse your site.

Related articles from the Github blog
Related articles from the Github blog

This component is coming soon from Headless Templates.

Content Body Elements

These are mostly native HTML elements that live within your content, but also include some custom React components (e.g. video embeds and enlargeable images).

Let's start with the basic HTML elements that require some design love. (Our PostBody component handles the styling for all of the following cases):

9. Headers

We account for H1, H2, H3 and H4.

10. Lists

This is an example of an unordered list. Headless templates is great because...

  • It saves you dozens of hours of dev time

  • It optimizes for SEO

  • It takes into account accessibility

  • It looks good out-of-the-box

11. Paragraphs

We asked ChatGPT why one should use a headless CMS as a demo paragraph. Here's what it said:

A headless CMS can provide greater flexibility, scalability, and security for your content management needs. It can also make it easier to integrate your content with other systems and applications, allowing you to create a seamless user experience across multiple platforms.

12. Quotations

Here is a preview of our styled blockquote:

Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.

- Coco Chanel

This is going to link to our twitter account as an example.

14. Text: Bold, Italic & Underlined:

Bold, italic and underlined text

15. Inlined Code

Here is some inlined code: console.log('meow')

16. Horizontal Rules

Here is an example of how our horizontal rule (hr) looks out-of-the-box:

Lives in the content body, but is a component

Next we have our components that live within the content that are extensions of native HTML elements.

17. Images

Sure, images are native elements. But we often want them to be more than just static images. For example, our Image component does two things:

  • Allows you to click on it in order to open within a modal-like view and see an enlarged version of the image.

  • Shows a caption below it that displays the alt tag.

You can see many examples of this component above.

18. Code Blocks

Like images, there is a native way to display code blocks using markup. For inlined code, we just use a code tag but for blocks of code, the proper approach is to use the pre tag.

With that said, we often want to spice things up and give our code proper highlighting based on the language used, and also allow for the user to easily copy the code with the click of a button.

This is why we created the CodeBlock component.

Here is an example:

1// This is for cases where the heading might be partially underlined and have two child nodes
2// so you can't just get the text (.value) from the first one in the array
3function getPlainTextFromHeader(contentNode) {
4  return contentNode.reduce((acc, current) => {
5    return acc + current.value
6  }, '')
9function getHeadersFromRichText(richText) {
10  const headers = (content) => content.nodeType === BLOCKS.HEADING_2
12  return richText.content.filter(headers).map((heading) => {
13    const plainText = getPlainTextFromHeader(heading.content)
15    return {
16      text: plainText,
17      href: `#${slugify(plainText)}`,
18    }
19  })
22// Results in something like:
23// [{ text: 'Heading one', slug: 'heading-one' }] 

Grabbing plain text value from the header

19. Video Embeds

Video embeds are always tricky.

There are many different services you might want to embed from like Youtube, Vimeo, Wistia (and many others).

You want the video to maintain a proper aspect ratio across a broad array of devices.

You probably want the videos to lazy-load in the background so they don't affect your page load time.

You might want to control the videos (stop, start, pause) programmatically.

For this reason, we've created a component that wraps a reliable and well-known library that handles all of these cases called React Player.

20. Call-outs

Call-outs are pieces of content that are tangentially related to your main content. Oftentimes it will be a piece of meta commentary or perhaps a call to action. We handcrafted a call-out component specifically for this.

Here is an example:

21. Table

Here is a summary of all the elements and components discussed in this article, using our table styling:

Element / Component type

Location on page


Outside of content body


Outside of content body


Outside of content body

Table of Contents

Outside of content body

Social Media Links

Outside of content body

Author Bio

Outside of content body

Calls to Action

Outside of content body

Sources & Citations

Outside of content body

Video Embeds

Content body

Code Blocks

Content body


Content body

Lists (ordered and unordered)

Content body


Content body


Content body

Calls to Action / Callouts

Content body


Content body


Content body


Content body

Text: Bold, Italic, Underlined

Content body