Headless CMS vs No-code Site builder

Headless CMS or Site Builder: Which is Better?

Creating and managing web content should be straightforward and enjoyable. However, the tools we use significantly impact this process, and selecting the wrong platform can lead to frustration

Currently, two primary types of website creation tools have emerged: headless CMS and site builders. Each has its advantages. Headless CMS offers greater control, pleasing developers, while site builders cater to content editors, but are not suitable for corporate websites.

But what if there's a third solution that makes everyone happy?

Enter headless CMS with visual editing. Enter headless CMS with visual editing. But before we delve into this new type of CMS, let's first explore headless CMSs and page builders. This will help us understand how the new paradigm bridges the gap between them, combining the best of both worlds.

Headless CMS: The flexible content distributor

What is a Headless CMS?

Unlike a traditional CMS, a headless Content Management System (CMS) separates the content repository from the presentation layer.

Headless architecture allows content to be stored, managed, and delivered to any platform or device via an API, without being tied to a specific front-end framework or technology.

Advantages of headless CMS

  • Flexibility: Developers are free to use any front-end technology, ensuring the use of the best tools for the project.
  • Omnichannel publishing: Content can be consistently delivered across different platforms and devices from a centralized location.
  • Scalability: Independent optimization of front and back ends enhances performance and development efficiency.
  • Structured data: A content model serves as a blueprint for content creation in a headless CMS. It defines the different content types and their respective fields, determining how content is structured.

Challenges with headless CMS

  • Technical expertise: Developers are required to build and manage the front-end presentation layer and set up the data structure.
  • Complex editing interface: The editing interface resembles that of a database, with abstract entities, relationships, and gray forms. Editors may find it difficult to determine which entity to modify in order to change the content of a website page.
  • Initial setup: Decoupling leads to a more complex and time-consuming initial setup.
  • Ongoing maintenance: whenever the marketing team needs a new piece of content, developers must add fields to the headless CMS, fetch them, and render them on the frontend.

When choose you choose a headless CMS?

  • You need to deliver content to multiple channels, such as websites, mobile apps, and IoT devices.
  • You want to use the latest front-end technologies to create a custom user experience.
  • You need a highly scalable CMS that can handle a large audience.
  • You need a CMS platform that can be easily integrated with other systems and applications.

Site builder: The editor-friendly website creator

What is a site builder or page builder?

Website builders offer a user-friendly interface for creating, designing, and managing web pages without manual coding.

Typically, a website builder offers drag-and-drop functionality, pre-designed templates, and widgets. This enables users to visualize the end result while they are creating it.

Advantages of page builders

  • Ease of use: Intuitive interfaces make it accessible to users without technical expertise. Real-time visual feedback lets users design precisely and confidently.
  • Quick setup: Pre-designed templates and widgets enable rapid website creation and deployment.

Challenges with page builders

  • Limited flexibility: Customization options are limited to the available templates. Consider for example Wix, where you choose a pre-made template instead of creating your own pixel-perfect corporate design.
  • Excessive Flexibility: Some tools, such as WebFlow, allow content editors to adjust the design using controls that correspond to CSS properties. In this scenario, the content editor could potentially compromise the corporate design.
  • Performance: Some page builders may add bloat to the code, potentially affecting website performance. In any case, you cannot use your preferred development framework, such as Next.js or Remix, due to the platform's closed nature.
  • Hosting: Typically, website builders host the frontend website on their platform, which can limit your deployment options.

When should you choose a page builder?

  • You are creating your first website and have no coding experience or developers available.
  • You need to create a website quickly and easily.
  • Your budget is limited.
  • Your website requires basic features such as about pages, contact information, and a small blog.
  • You need a website that is easy to update and maintain.

Headless CMS vs page builder: which one to choose?

Consider your team’s expertise

  • Technical teams: A headless CMS might be a better fit for teams with technical expertise, especially if they need flexibility with front-end technologies.
  • Non-technical teams: Page builders work well for marketers, small business owners, and individuals who want to create a website without learning to code.

Consider your project requirements

  • Ongoing development: If your project is likely to evolve and require continuous development, a headless CMS's flexibility might be beneficial.
  • Content-focused management: If the project is more focused on content updates and minor tweaks, a page builder could be more user-friendly for ongoing management.

Our vision about visual content management

Why we like visual editing

Visual editing is about making tasks simpler. Editors can work independently without needing developer assistance. This saves time as they can focus on writing rather than navigating a complex tool.

Moreover, if the tool is enjoyable and easy to use, editors are likely to update content more frequently, as they won't be struggling with complexities.

Freedom to design: good or bad?

Page builders like WebFlow let you create and change stuff on your website with lots of freedom. They let editors play around with both content and design, in a single place. But this freedom has its drawbacks.

While the ability to alter design is great for the marketing team, it can also be risky. Content editors and marketing teams often lack the design expertise of a professional designer. So, giving editors unrestricted control over design can lead to design inconsistencies and a compromised corporate image.

Headless CMS: keeping things in order, but a bit stiff?

Then there’s headless CMS, which keeps content and design in separate boxes. This means the look of your platform stays consistent because editors can’t accidentally change the design: they can just enter text into gray forms.

But this strict setup has its own problems. If an editor wants to add something new, like a paragraph, a developer needs to be involved to update the CMS structure and make sure it shows up right on the website.

And using a headless CMS can be a bit dull for editors because of its plain, gray user interface. While some headless CMSs offer a visual preview feature to enhance user-friendliness, it still feels like editing a Word document in a sidebar with gray forms and wait for the preview to appear on the page after a second - not the most enjoyable experience!

Our solution: React Bricks.

React Bricks combines the advantages of a headless CMS and a page builder.

It is based on the concept of “Lego bricks” of content. Developers create these bricks using React components, and Content editors use them to compose pages. With Lego bricks, you can construct anything without altering the design of individual bricks. Similarly, React Bricks allows editors to create without disrupting the design of the atomic React components.

Inline visual editing is enabled by the React Bricks visual components that developers can use in the React JSX code.

Unlike Lego bricks, developers can allow editors to change some properties of content blocks, using code-defined sidebar controls. So it is not like WebFlow, where editors can change anything. In React Bricks only the controls defined by the developers are available, with only the values defined in code. For instance, for a hero unit, developers can specify that editors can only change the background color to either white or light gray.

React Bricks is also an enterprise-grade headless CMS that features: Digital Asset Manager, Localization, Collaboration, Scheduled publishing, Advanced SEO, Approval workflow, Multiple environments, SSO, Scheduled backup, Self-hosted backend.

Wrapping it up: what’s the best choice?

The choice between a website builder and a headless CMS depends on your needs and challenges. Website builders offer a lot of freedom and ease of use, while a headless CMS ensures consistency in design and organized data.

Visual site builders are best for small projects or temporary content that require quick setup. However, they are usually not suitable for corporate websites, as they are not flexible enough, with pre-made templates, or too flexible, letting the editors take design choices.

React Bricks combines the benefits of a headless CMS and a no-code site builder, offering a smooth and efficient platform, great for both developers and content editors.

For developers, the focus is on crafting content blocks using React components within their usual code editor. The platform adds the visual editing magic. It is compatible with any React and CSS framework, providing starters for Next.js, Remix, and Gatsby to build highly performant websites.

For content editors, the platform offers an intuitive, click-and-edit interface, simplifying the content creation process. Creators can directly edit text and images with a single click, similar to using Word or Pages, and adjust properties like the background color within the limits set by developers and designers.

This approach allows creators ample freedom within useful constraints, offering a guided, user-friendly experience that is more engaging than navigating through standard forms.

Ready to start building?