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Should You Use Contentful CMS over Traditional CMS? A Complete Guide to Getting Started with Contentful Headless CMS and if it's the CMS You Need!
Contentful as a CMS began its journey in 2013 intending to enable teams with a CMS to manage content separately. Contentful is a cloud-based headless CMS solution that is flexible, scalable, and adaptive.
It follows an architecture where the backend is decoupled from the presentation layer. What this brings to users is the freedom to edit content and manage it across multiple channels without having to worry about the design and development operations.
Thus, offering a composable, headless-native CMS to build captivating experiences that stand out. Contentful helps content team(s), marketers, designers, and developers to optimize their workflow and deliver stunning visual experiences.
Let's dive deeper and understand if Contentful is the CMS you need.
Contentful is a leading headless Content Management System that is emerging as one of the top choices for modern and progressive web development. Unlike traditional CMS, it offers a modular and flexible API-based architecture, enabling brands, e-commerce team(s), and businesses to drive collaboration, creativity, and productivity.
This leads to lower cost of ownership, reduced development costs, increase in conversions, generating more traffic, etc. Contentful drives content to be easily managed separately from the presentation layer and deliver omnichannel experiences.
Cloud-based - Contentful comes as a cloud-native SaaS platform, which can be accessed with a web app and APIs. This makes collaboration and creation synchronous and efficient. Also, reduces cost as it does not require any additional hosting. Moreover, Contentful allows developers to choose their choice of frameworks and code languages.
Content Platform Integrations - Contentful API lets you deliver content in a configurable way to display information across multiple digital touchpoints like apps, websites, etc. Contentful also supports and provides SDKs for various languages and frameworks.
Omnichannel Content Delivery - Authors get the freedom and flexibility to seamlessly publish content across multiple platforms like web, mobile, wearables, digital signage, etc.
Scalable - Contentful is built with scalability at its roots. Thus, organizations of all sizes can effectively use it to scale and manage their content operations. Its digital architecture can handle high traffic volumes while ensuring smooth, spectacular, and efficient performance.
Contentful lets brands and organizations achieve agility and scalability while lowering the Cost of Ownership (TCO). Thus, making it a compelling choice for modern organizations who wish to create stunning omnichannel experiences.
Contentful gives a multitude of features that enable content teams, marketers, designers, etc. to manage and scale digital operations intuitively. Let’s explore why brands, e-commerce teams, and businesses should adopt Contentful vs using traditional CMS systems:
Flexibility and Freedom
The headless architecture is designed to give brands, e-commerce teams, and businesses flexibility and freedom in taking their choice of tech stack. As Contentful also provides controls to manage the content side, developers have full control over choosing frameworks, new frontends, integrations, etc. without being limited by the backend.
Contentful is a composable information management system that enables rapid experimentation and the building of new experiences. Quick edits and changes are possible to the frontend presentation without the need to alter the backend content repositories. This increases innovation, faster iteration(s), and reduces the Time to Market (TTM).
Omnichannel Digital Experience
One of the biggest advantages of Contentful is its ability to deliver omnichannel content delivery. Brands, e-commerce teams, and businesses can publish content to different digital touchpoints like web, mobile, wearables, digital signage, etc. all from a single platform.
Lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)
It offers the latest technology and trumps traditional monolithic CMS platforms in terms of flexibility, management, and performance. Headless CMS like Contentful incur a lower cost of ownership compared to monoliths, owing to easier maintenance, no hosting costs, productivity improvements, real-time collaboration capabilities, etc.
It offers the ability to model and structure content per the diverse needs of content/marketing teams. This enables them to create personalized visual experiences that ensure consistency, increased brand presence, and higher conversions.
These are the basic building structures when creating and curating content with Contentful. These can be used to define specific content kinds like a blog post, product, page, article, etc. Teams can work with Contentful to create content types as per their project requirements.
Each content type comes with various fields that hold actual content. This can include text, numbers, images, references, and more. Field types can be common primitives like text and boolean, or complex objects like assets and JSON.
Contentful teams can model ‘relationship(s)’ between different content types. For example, a ‘blog post’ can be related to an ‘author’, or a ‘product’ can be related to `review(s)`. Thus, enabling a powerful and intuitive content relationship and structuring.
Contentful opens the opportunity for borderless commerce with fields that support multiple locales for localizing information across different languages/regions. Teams can also create content variants based on locale/region.
Contentful supports extensive options for organizing content, with reusable content types, and flexible field schemas. Brands, e-commerce teams, and businesses get complete control over their digital avenue, which is tailored to their unique needs, with their choice of technologies.
Contentful fully embraces a MACH architecture, that involves API-first development principles, providing robust APIs for interacting with content:
Content Delivery API
This API retrieves and displays content from Contentful to different digital touchpoints like apps, websites, wearables, digital signage, etc. It provides filter and query capabilities to fetch exactly what’s required.
Content Management API
Enables technical access to create, edit, manage, and organize content. All core functions like content manipulations, assets management, and localization can be done via the API.
With webhooks, apps can subscribe to receive real-time notifications when content is changed or updated within Contentful. This enables taking action based on content changes. Creating a memorable and addictive user experience, increasing CSAT (Customer Satisfaction), and CX (Customer Experience).
Together, these integration capabilities allow developers to integrate Contentful into their stack, and build custom frontends and experiences as per the needs of the project.
Contentful provides robust features for collaborating across teams, and managing publishing workflows, while enabling development operations:
Roles and permissions – User roles and permissions can be allocated as per their requirements and can be managed to the granular level. This enables a smooth workflow and smart system access control.
Versioning – Authors can create, store, and track multiple versions of the same content. Thus, teams can revert to older versions without any hassle.
Workflow – Automation of publishing processes can be easily achieved by modeling editorial workflows. For example, drafting, reviewing, proofreading, approval, scheduling, etc.
Previews – Drafted content can be viewed in real-time without affecting the published content, which is publicly visible.
Multi-environment – Separate environments like dev, staging, and production for easier development lifecycles.
Auditing – A full audit trail provides visibility into content changes, publishing activity, and system access.
These collaboration aspects allow teams to synchronously produce content and smoothly manage it across its lifecycle. These workflows can be tailored to meet the diverse needs and requirements of brands, e-commerce teams, and businesses!
Headless CMS is often given double thoughts when it comes to scalability and performance, but Contentful is designed to excel in these aspects:
Horizontally and Vertically Scalable - Contentful can scale seamlessly to adapt to growing traffic volume by adding more computing resources.
Globally distributed - Content is served via CDN for low latency delivery and high availability.
Incremental builds - Only changed content needs to be refreshed instead of full rebuilds, which reduces publishing times.
Caching - Multiple caching layers are used to greatly improve response times for content delivery.
Media optimization - Images and files are automatically optimized and converted to efficiently load across devices.
Purging - Content, media, or caches can be programmatically purged whenever needed.
Together, these allow Contentful to easily scale up to the demands of large global enterprises with millions of content objects and high traffic volumes. Moreover, a headless CMS opens room for numerous other performance optimizations to ensure spectacular scalability and performance.
Contentful is an excellent out-of-the-box experience, it offers options for deep customization:
Contentful can integrate with other systems like:
- E-commerce platforms
- Marketing and analytics tools
- DAM systems for media management
- CRMs and sales platforms
This is done by leveraging webhooks and the REST APIs to connect disparate systems.
There are hundreds of apps built by Contentful's developer community on GitHub. These extend the platform's capabilities - for example, apps for translation, SEO optimization, automation, etc.
For extensive custom needs, companies can build their apps with Contentful's app framework and API. These have full access to content and the web app UIs.
The App SDK provides helpers for building application extensions that plug into Contentful using React components.
The UI can be customized by attaching new UI Extensions that add functionality or alter the default experience. With these options, Contentful allows limitless customization to meet a company's unique needs.
Contentful as a headless CMS offers a versatile platform and a plethora of features and functionalities for brands, e-commerce teams, and businesses who:
- Require omnichannel content delivery
- Need to integrate many diverse systems
- Want greater developer flexibility
- Have complex or changing content models
- Need to create and scale content across global regions
- Plan to leverage modern web/mobile tech stacks
Contentful is well-suited, especially for e-commerce, broadcasting, publishing, and other content-heavy applications.
- Atlassian: Scales its external support capabilities with the help of Contentful.
- ASICS: Make marathon racing more engaging with Contentful.
- Mailchamp: Evolves its knowledge base and frees its teams with Contentful.
- SAS: Launched a successful digital transformation during the global pandemic with Contentful.
- Bang & Olufsen: Makes ecommerce gains selling audio products with Contentful.
- Notion: Expands educational content and marketing efforts to help even more customers stay organized.
- Danone: Unifies and scales health food offerings by extending a long-loved content platform.
- Costa Coffee: Wakes up new markets with localized content via Contentful
- BMW: Digitizes showroom sophistication with Contentful
In closing, Contentful provides a feature-rich headless CMS optimized for the demands of multichannel content delivery. Its flexible APIs, extensive customization options, enterprise-grade scalability, and intuitive interface give companies the capabilities required to build great digital experiences.
If you are looking to adopt a platform that separates content from presentation, facilitates omnichannel distribution, and provides the freedom to use any frontend tech stack - Contentful CMS is an excellent choice. It powers content management for leading global brands across industries.
Contentful is a headless content platform that offers CMS users a channel to create diverse content for a truly modern and multi-platform experience.