Last updated: September 14, 2023
Content Management Systems (CMS) have been the foundation of digital content strategy, evolving continuously to meet the demands of an increasingly complex online world. As we navigate through this complex landscape, we come across three main types of CMS platforms: traditional CMS like WordPress, headless CMS, and the increasingly influential visual headless CMS.
This article dives into the details of visual headless CMS, exploring its unique features and capabilities, and why it's poised to redefine the way we think about content management.
To make sense of how CMS has changed over time, from traditional to visual headless, let's consider an analogy about rooms and furniture:
A traditional CMS is like buying pre-made furniture sets to fill the interiors of your rooms. It's convenient and often looks good, but it might not fit perfectly in every space, and customization options are limited. This is similar to traditional CMS platforms that offer a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, making it easy to create content but often limiting in terms of design flexibility.
A Headless CMS is like bringing in custom materials to craft your furniture for the house. You measure every room and, with those materials, craft furniture that complements each space. It requires more effort, but the end result is tailored to your needs. Similarly, a headless CMS allows developers to fetch content and display it however they want, offering more flexibility in design and structure.
A Visual CMS is like having a custom furniture workshop with a 3D visualization tool. Not only can you design your furniture, but you can also drag and drop to see how it looks and fits in each room in real-time.
The collaboration between you, the designers, and the craftsmen becomes seamless. You can experiment with different designs, materials, and placements without waiting for the entire piece to be crafted. This mirrors the capabilities of a visual CMS, where designers, developers, and content creators can design, edit, and preview content in real-time, ensuring the best fit for the user experience.
In web development, as in home design, the right tools make all the difference. Craft your content as you would your home.
A visual headless CMS is an advanced form of a headless CMS that incorporates a user-friendly, visual interface for content creation and management. It retains the API-driven architecture of a headless CMS, allowing for multi-platform content delivery, while adding a layer of real-time, visual editing capabilities. This bridges the gap between those who create the content and those who code it, making the process more collaborative and efficient.
Talking about a visual editor is one thing, seeing it in action is another. Here's a quick 10-second clip to show you what it's like to drag and drop and work with a visual editor.
A visual headless CMS elevates the digital experience by providing seamless multi-platform content delivery along with real-time visual editing. Let's take a look at the practical benefits that make a visual headless CMS not just a technological advancement, but a paradigm shift for all stakeholders.
A visual headless CMS operates through a straightforward yet powerful process:
With a visual headless CMS, the overall structure is the same as any other headless CMS — content is fetched as JSON and rendered within your stack.
The key difference with a visual headless CMS, is you get first-class integrations for your choice of framework that let you reduce code clutter and embrace a more component-driven flow as below:
Ultimately, this helps developers avoid hard-coding layouts and component compositions — the CMS handles that while developers focus on components.
Drag and drop capabilities
Visual building with Next.js
Visual editing with CMS
At Builder.io, we offer a powerful combination of user-friendly visual tools, collaboration-friendly features, and efficient publishing capabilities. We have a Google Chrome extension to easily help you with content editing within the web browser, along with a Figma plugin to make a smoother transition from design to web page. You can incrementally adopt our Visual Headless CMS or rebuild your frontend from scratch.