Uniform blog/Content management: past, present, and future
lars birkholm petersen
Lars Birkholm Petersen
Posted on Jan 8, 2024

4 min read

Content management: past, present, and future

From open-source software to enterprise-level heavyweights, there are hundreds of content management systems (CMSs) catering to different business needs, markets, and price points. Since their beginnings, CMSs have continued to evolve and tailor their offerings to help businesses distribute valuable digital content. 
However, brands are discovering that CMSs alone are ill-equipped to handle the full range of tools and integrations needed for modern experiences. The visual workspace represents the next step in omnichannel experience management, enabling brands to streamline content management workflows and deliver experiences at the speed of demand. 
Let’s dive into a brief history of the CMS, how we got here, and why visual tools are key to successful content management. 

The early days—HTML files and static webpages  

Back in 1996 B.C. (i.e., before the CMS), local businesses created simple websites by referencing books on HTML and hand-coding webpages based on flat, static text files. Tools of the trade were either simple HTML editors like HomeSite or more user-friendly editors such as FrontPage and Dreamweaver, the latter of which is still used today.
In the pre-CMS era, content management processes were manual, rudimentary, and, above all, slow. Workflows consisted of calling, emailing, or faxing changes to developers who handled page creation, design updates, and other coding tasks. 

Enterprise CMSs get their time in the limelight

The early 2000s signaled the rise of the enterprise CMS, as well as the automation and streamlining of content management processes. Suddenly, brands could purchase professional systems with sleek interfaces and easy tooling for dynamic content delivery. 
Over time, CMSs became more sophisticated with built-in capabilities, including content authoring, role-based access, and search. Moreover, marketing teams were able to produce desktop websites using pre-built templates that displayed Web 2.0 functionality such as user-generated content, visitor comments, and RSS feeds.  

The rise of digital experience platforms

As mobile adoption grew, so did the need to deliver responsive content that could be read on any screen or device. Thus began the transformation of CMSs into digital experience platforms (DXPs), bringing personalization, analytics, and other new web capabilities. 
While the vision of DXPs promised personalized experiences that delighted and engaged audiences, they were hard to maintain and upgrade, and imposed constraints on many aspects of experience creation.   

Headless CMSs gain popularity 

In 2018, Google introduced page speed as a ranking factor in mobile searches, prompting another shift—this time toward headless technology. 
Unlike DXPs, these lightweight CMSs separate content creation from presentation, allowing developers to play with their preferred frameworks and brands to accelerate, scale, and personalize experiences for individual users. 
Headless CMSs offer improved speed and performance, however, their complexity comes at a cost to marketers. Without built-in presentation functionality, digital teams lack visual tools or an intuitive interface where they can easily edit, preview, and publish campaigns. 

Marketers face content management challenges in an omnichannel world 

As the architects of omnichannel experiences, marketers excel in hands-on mediums that facilitate creativity, experimentation, and autonomy. Yet, the market is flooded with CMSs that too often compromise creator-centric tools for performance. 
Despite advancements in content management stacks, many digital teams still struggle to push omnichannel experiences at the speed of demand: 
  • Slow content management workflows. Brands must choose between rigid, decade-old CMS platforms or developer-preferred solutions that leave marketers with little control and visibility in the content production lifecycle. 
  • Disconnected systems and siloed content and data. Without unified access and visibility to enterprise-wide content, marketers waste time looking for the files they need to launch experiences. Studies show over one-third of marketers spend more than three weeks a year searching for digital assets.
  • Insufficient tools. Many solutions boast experience management capabilities but lack visual tools that enable digital teams to adapt to changing customer needs and market demands. 
Companies are waking up to the reality that their website architectures limit rather than enable their creative teams. In practice, website technology that’s best for marketers may not be ideal for developers—and vice versa. 

CMS functionality that’s built for marketers 

The visual workspace solves this dilemma by providing content management capabilities in a single, no-code environment that empowers marketers and frees development resources. 
Within the visual workspace, marketers can build campaigns using content from any CMS (e.g., legacy, DXP, or headless)–regardless of where it's stored–in tandem with commerce, personalization, generative AI, or other enterprise systems. 
Though the battle still rages between DXP and headless, brands no longer have to choose between CMS options that sacrifice marketing speed to delivery for cutting-edge capabilities. The visual workspace gives digital teams both, arming them with the tools and technologies to work faster and deliver winning experiences that convert leads and retain customers.   

Leverage content management workflows into high-speed experiences

Getting your omnichannel strategy off the ground means sourcing content from multiple places—tools and technologies that likely exist outside a traditional CMS. With the Uniform Visual Workspace, you have access to core content management capabilities combined with the power of marketing-first functionality. 
Schedule a demo to learn how you can launch exceptional omnichannel experiences with a visual workspace made for marketers.