How To Choose Between ACMS Headless vs Drag and Drop Builder

How to choose a frontend framework

Choosing a frontend framework for your web development project can be a crucial decision that impacts your project's scalability, performance, and maintainability.

A question to ask yourself is:

Who will maintain the website long term?

Will a development team maintain the website or will marketers who need site building capabilities be maintaining your site long term?

Acquia CMS provides three starterkits so you can choose how to maintain your frontend moving forward, decoupled(headless), low code enterprise and community.  Acquia Content Management System (Acquia CMS) is an open source, composable CMS for managing digital content and experiences. It is powered by Drupal and optimized for the Acquia platform.

  • Starter kits manage an initialization process, not a code distribution.
  • Starter kits do not use a custom profile.
  • Dependencies are decoupled from distribution.
  • Starter kit output is 100% customer owned and customizable.
  • Starter kits do not have an upgrade path.

Key features of a starter kit

  • Starting Point
    • Composable and replaceable templates to start with
  • Extendable
    • Once instantiated you will continue to sub-theme your theme but your starter kit is no longer tied at runtime.
  • Composable
    • Your distribution can have multiple starter kits. Instead of one monolithic install profile your distribution can follow micro service principles. 
  • Decoupled and Upgradeable  
    • Backwards compatibility for  themes were not possible before starter kits. Upgrades to Starter kit will not affect your production themes.
  • Command line tools for creation
    • Starter kits provide a CLI command for generating new sites using a starter kit


Site Studio is a Drupal add-on service available for Acquia subscribers that empowers non-developers to make layout and design changes inside the CMS.

Designers with little coding knowledge can create within the CMS 




The low-code enterprise solution is ideal for marketers and companies seeking a simplified coding approach.


What is headless?

Headless is a loose term that refers to decoupling frontend UX from the backend systems that provide, manage and control data.



Why is Headless so Popular


By separating the frontend from the backend, you can use any technology stack for the frontend, such as React or Next.JS. 

This allows developers to choose the best tools for their specific project needs.

API-First Approach:

 Drupal's API-first approach ensures that data is accessible via web services (typically REST or JSON:API) right out of the box. 

This is crucial for modern web applications and mobile apps that rely on data APIs.

Composable Architecture:

  Components of a the application are designed to be modular and easily interchangeable

Key Features:

  • Single Unified Editorial Experience
  • Omni-channel delivery of content 
  • Composable architecture 
  • Content Service
  • API First 



Headless required design component

“Components are the reusable building blocks of our design system. Each component meets a specific interaction or UI need, and has been specifically created to work together  to create patterns and intuitive user experiences.”




Target customers

Marketing Team or small development team looking to make dynamic page changes to a production site fast

All in one service for frontend and backend. All component content is in JSON. 

Pain points

Requires a site redesign by taking over the frontend architecture and styling is now apart of the Drupal Config system

Makes working with Drupal in headless projects easier
for content managers and frontend developers.

Complementing products

Drupal Cloud, Acquia Site Factory, DAM. Code Studio, VWO. Monidso

Drupal Cloud, Node.js


All in one service for frontend and backend. All component content is in JSON. 

Headless CMS has fewer requirements for integrations making it incompatible with many of our products: Search, Personalization, CDP, etc.

What are my needs?

Low Code

  • Low code
  • Configurable
  • Simpler architecture
  • Tried and true
  • Web pages


  • High code
  • Developer freedom
  • Flexible architecture
  • Cutting edge
  • Apps and IoT

When it comes down to it, it is a business decision and who is maintaining your site. Choosing the path of lease resistance for what makes sense for your company and and future of your web application.