What is Contentful?
Contentful is a cloud-based headless CMS that originated in Germany in 2013. The headless architecture is designed to provide users with an intuitive experience to help businesses customize their digital presence.
The purpose of Contentful’s headless architecture is to make it easier for developers, content editors, and content managers to organize content and distribute it to any platform. In addition to its multi-channel structure, Contentful provides users the freedom to build custom content models that fit their needs.
Why go headless?
Contentful allows developers to choose the frameworks and code languages they prefer to build a custom frontend. The backend and APIs are handled by Contentful and customized according to the website’s needs. A headless content management system is the back-end of any project, separated from the frontend or the presentation layer.
Contentful is a front-end agnostic, backend platform that saves the developers the hassle of building their backend and managing content. It gives you the freedom to design the frontend of your website using the framework of your choice.
From robust contentful APIs to fully managed backend services, Contentful provides the developers with a complete package to build excellent digital experiences.
What is Contentful used for?
Contentful has revolutionized the world of content management by offering solutions that help you update the content on your websites, mobiles apps, and other platforms without any hassle.
Contentful offers well-documented APIs and CLI migration tools, providing website builders with perfect tools to deliver digital experiences like none other. Contentful has received the 2020 Proddy Award for Best Website Builder Product.
Who uses Contentful?
Businesses and organizations use Contentful to manage their content demands. Over 300 organizations reportedly use Contentful in their tech stacks, including Disney, Frontend, Affirm, Ritual, and Segment.
Contentful vs. Monolithic CMS
Chances are your company’s website is still running on a monolithic architecture - and that’s okay. Regardless, a headless solution like Contentful does everything a monolithic can do and everything it can’t.
What is a monolithic CMS?
A monolithic CMS is an all-in-one solution that handles the frontend and backend of a website application.
Monolithic architectures let you store, manage and present content, all in one place. They use a single codebase that looks after all the content management aspects of your websites.
What does Contentful have that a Monolithic CMS doesn’t?
A headless architecture like Contentful only handles the backend of a website application, eliminating the presentation layer from its duties.
Frontend libraries and frameworks like React and Gatsby exist to handle the frontend layer of a headless website, using APIs to fetch the content from a backend application like Contentful.
Contentful’s headless CMS allows for a more tailored approach to content management, which makes it easier for businesses to evolve and grow at their own pace. Here’s how!
1. Content Modeling for Structured Content
With content modeling, users can build a content structure using defined content types. Content types can consist of up to fifty data types that users define.
2. An Omnichannel Marketing Experience
Contentful makes it possible to deliver an integrated, comprehensive, and up-to-date content experience by offering an omnichannel marketing experience.
Contentful supports omnichannel marketing by allowing users to seamlessly publish and manage content across various channels from a central hub. With the help of Contentful, the content is individually managed, optimized, and reproduced for multiple platforms.
3. Multichannel Distribution
Teams were once required to write the same content multiple times to meet the multi-channel aspect. A modern headless CMS like Contentful resolves this issue, empowering content teams to publish the same content across platforms in one single place.
Developers were building for more than one application and needed a solution that supported multi-channel distribution. With Contentful, users can build an organized content infrastructure for anyone to come in and use.
This alone is a huge selling point for teams who’ve never had the luxury of having a single content hub. Now with Contentful’s content repository, teams are adapting the same content to other digital platforms.
4. Reuse Everything
By following a content modeling structure, businesses can reuse or recycle content and distribute it to different platforms and audiences to serve the same purpose. From content management strategies and APIs to content models, you can reuse and modify everything according to your need.
Content editors are given the freedom to reuse and recreate different components from the already existing paradigms of content management.
You now understand the basics of Contentful. However, the headless solution offers its customers more features that make it an appealing choice for a website's backend.
Contentful’s CDN Deliver’s Content Quickly
Businesses want their content to be delivered rapidly, and that requires a content delivery network. Luckily, Contentful lets users enjoy the benefits of a high-speed delivery and robust service with the help of the built-in Contentful CDN.
How does Contentful deliver content to multiple devices?
Whether you are accessing a website from a laptop, a mobile app, or your tablet, Contentful allows designers to customize the content models according to the devices the content is delivered.
Designers along with content strategists work to provide a seamless user experience by setting up content models that target different screen sizes and resolutions.
Extend Functionality with Contentful’s UI Extensions
UI extensions let developers extend the basic functionality of a Contentful web application for a more custom solution. Suppose you want to render third-party data in your Contentful app. You can use the UI extensions to add a custom field in the content type.
Build Reusable Content Models
It is always beneficial to envision your content modeling components as separate bits based on their reusability or uniqueness.
Most of the time, the content types of a content model can be reused for some other project that has a similar infrastructure to be built around their content. Let's take the example of a landing page for an eCommerce store.
The common fields that the content model must possess are the user’s first name, last name, email, phone number, Country, and zip code. The same content model can also be used for the landing page of any website offering cloud services or a job-seeking website.
Create, Edit, and Deploy within Contentful
With Contentful, you can do everything from app creation to deployment. Contentful provides you with their Create-contentful-app CLI to create a frontend app template that could be further enhanced according to your need.
To get started, create an app template with the command
npx @contentful/create-contentful-app init my-first-app
This command initializes and generates your app and downloads all the dependencies.
2. Next, create an app definition that allows you to configure your application. The following command is used for creating an App Definition.
npx @contentful/app-scripts create-app-definition
3. After the configuration, run the application on your local server using the command:
4. After customizing your application, run the following command to deploy it to the web.
npm run upload
Contentful makes content reusability feel like a breeze, which strengthens a company’s content infrastructure. The headless solution allows various components of a content management cycle to be built, implemented, and stored individually.
Headless architecture benefits make it possible for companies to build powerful content engines! Are you interested in learning how to migrate to a headless CMS? Download our guide to a succesful headless implementation.