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Contentful vs. DatoCMS: The Differences You Should Know About Before Commitment

The right CMS should help enterprises become more agile and adapt to their current and future content demands. Contentful and DatoCMS are frontrunners in the headless conversation. Here’s how they compare to each other.

Date IconJan 26th, 20224 minutes

Eric Izazaga

Marketing Coordinator

Contentful vs. DatoCMS: The Differences You Should Know About Before Commitment - Blog Post

Choosing a Headless CMS for your organization can be a tough decision. The right CMS should help enterprises become agile, grow, and adapt to their current and future needs.

While there are 90+ Headless CMSs alternatives, Contentful and DatoCMS are frontrunners in the headless conversation. But, how exactly do they compare to each other?

Whose UI is easier to navigate?

Contentful and DatoCMS are great options when it comes to UI. Apart from a well-designed and easy-to-use UI, they allow you to add customized features that are huge selling points for businesses who’ve adopted the platforms. 

A Fresh UI Every Time with Contentful

Contentful is constantly improving the user experience with new features and documentation to help users navigate the app with confidence. Users can customize the editor experience by changing fields to tailor the UI to fit the needs of both developers and content editors.  

Customize Your UI with DatoCMS

DatoCMS has a much friendlier interface making it easier to filter and search for content. In addition to the navigation bar being customizable, there is a white-labeled admin interface system to let you customize the interface.

Another great feature is the collaborative editing mode, displaying a presence indicator that locates where and on what content your collaborators are working on.

The Developer Experience for Each Headless CMS

Contentful and DatoCMS follow an API-first approach. Each headless CMS provides a platform that comprises several APIs to work with the content. Depending on your use case, each API serves a different purpose. 

The Contentful API Structure

The Contentful API structure comprises REST and GraphQL APIs for working with your content. There are 4 REST APIs and a GraphQL Content API. 

  • Content Delivery API: A read-only API for delivering content from Contentful to users in apps, websites, and other channels.

  • Content Management API: A read-write API for managing content by programmatically creating content items.

  • Content Preview API: Used to preview unpublished content before delivering it to users.

  • Images API: This API lets you retrieve and apply transformations to images stored inside Contentful.

  • GraphQL Content API: If you want to use GraphQL to query your content, the GraphQL Content API provides a fully functional equivalent to the REST implementation of Content Delivery and Content Preview APIs.

The DatoCMS API structure

DatoCMS provides strong support for many frameworks, including React, Vue/Nust.js, Next.js, and Gatsby. The primary DatoCMS APIs include the following:

  • Content Delivery API: A read-only API written in GraphQL used to retrieve content from projects and serve it to users over a content delivery network (CDN).

  • Real-time Updates API: This allows users to have real-time interactions with your website. The client listens to content changes using a stable connection that streams events as they occur.

  • Content Management API: A read-write that lets you programmatically create, modify, or delete content and run test scripts in sandbox environments. 

  • Import and Export Content: This API lets you import data from an external source and perform powerful queries on some data.

Pricing for Contentful and DatoCMS

Contentful and DataCMS both offer free plans that will suffice your needs if you’re just getting started. The problem arises when you want to scale your business. 

Contentful pricing increases from the community tier to the team tier. DatoCMS offers lower pricing, but their free tier has quite limited features.

Contentful Pricing

With its free tier, you get a fully-featured headless CMS that is language and framework agnostic, decoupled microservices architecture that evolves with your project, and an open platform with SDKs, App Framework, and design system.

The team tier offers expanded authoring roles, locales, and technical support. They also have a custom enterprise tier that is helpful if you want to scale up a content platform to power hundreds of digital experiences.

  • Community - Free

  • Team - $489

  • Enterprise - Custom

DatoCMS Pricing

DatoCMS’s free developer tier suits small projects with low traffic. With growing needs, you’ll need to switch to the professional tier as it offers more flexibility. The good news is that it’s more affordable than Contentful.

  • Developer - $0

  • Professional - $227 

  • Scale - $341 

Community Support for Both Headless Solutions

Contentful, undoubtedly, is ahead in technical support for enterprises. On the other hand, because DatoCMS is less enterprise-focused, it is highly receptive to support requests.

Contentful: A Community of Developers, Content creators at an Enterprise Level

Contentful’s documentation and user guides are well-written to answer most user queries. Both the team and enterprise tiers allow users to log detailed issues and get technical support instantly. 

The German-based company also offers a marketplace with a rich library of Contentful apps and a pool of plugins for the presentation layer of an application. Using these, you can build better workflows and integrate third-party services without the grunt work of a custom build.

DatoCMS: Gives Users What They Need

DatoCMS also has a marketplace with a collection of plugins to extend web app services, offering enterprise apps to keep data secure with centralized user management and asset storage. 

Like Contentful, there’s a collection of community plugins that give users the power to extend the functionality of a web app and starter projects to get started on DatoCMS. For hosting, there exist hostings and CI integrations for server, serverless, and static stacks.

Who is using Contentful and DatoCMS?

Contentful has been serving enterprises for a long time, while DatoCMS is not near an enterprise level. As of now, Contentful serves more than 2,000 businesses, including Atlassian, ServiceTitan, and Calendly.

Currently, DatoCMS serves over 25,000 active projects and has more than 1,500 paying customers. Shopmonkey, Vercel, and Dropbox are using DatoCMS.

Why High-Growth Companies Are Going Headless in 2022

A study predicts that the market for Headless CMS Software is projected to experience substantial growth with a CAGR of 22.6% in the next decade. Before committing to a content management system, you should know what differentiates them apart.

Headless CMS allows enterprises to fully concentrate on planning and creating content while offloading the underlying infrastructure concerns. Managing content from a single point and publishing it to multiple channels is why high-growth companies are becoming more interested in headless architectures.

The Verdict

For a company that has high growth potential and is looking for a CMS that can handle complex workflows, Contentful offers a lot of value.

However, users must plan accordingly as importing, migrating, and merging large chunks of data between spaces requires a lot of work. DatoCMS offers more programmatic control of content and structure, but the free plan is quite limiting for many projects.

Both headless solutions have a great community to help users in the beginning stages, making both headless solutions good options for an organization's content demands.

If you'd like to learn more about migrating to a headless CMS, download our free implementation checklist.

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