Contentful: How it works, Benefits and Most Notable Apps
Contentful is a headless CMS tool used for producing, managing, and publishing content across multiple channels: Websites, e-Commerce, and Mobile Apps.
When you're a developer for a company that, in addition to having a Website, has mobile apps, e-Commerce platforms, social networks, and enterprise software applications, it can be complex to separately manage the content of each platform.
If you add to this the need to unify the work of the Development area with those of the Marketing, Sales, and Operations teams, among others, the high volume of tasks on different platforms can lead to errors or confusion.
Thanks to this problem, a team of developers created a tool called Headless CMS, which they named "Contentful," where all the company's content can be managed and administered from a single place.
At Gluo.MX, we use this tool that has made our lives easier, and in this article, we want to share with you what it's used for, how it works, and all the resources you can take advantage of.
What is Contentful?
Contentful is a CMS tool that, in simple terms, is used to produce, manage, and publish content easily on any website.
Its technology is cloud-based, allowing any user, whether they are developers or content editors, to work together to make their tasks easier and more agile.
And here comes the best part:
The highlight of Contentful, and what sets it apart from other CMS, is that it's a Headless CMS, which explained in layman's terms means that it operates under a decoupled model that allows serving the same content across many channels (omnichannel) with ease.
In other words, the same content can be used on a marketing website, an e-commerce platform, within a mobile app, or within enterprise software applications.
The Headless Model
Contentful allows for the management of centralized content to be consumed across multiple platforms, which can be developed with different focuses and teams.
At the heart of Contentful are the REST or GraphQL API and the SDKs (Software Development Kits) for different languages.
By focusing on the content model, Contentful allows for the rapid and very flexible construction of content entities.
What is the difference between a traditional CMS and Contentful's Headless CMS?
Before the Headless CMS existed, the only web content manager that existed was the traditional CMS, which took care of everything: managing the content and also displaying it to the end user through different templates, themes, or extensions.
This convenience had its implications: the content was used "mainly for websites" and had tied in implementation details of the content manager without allowing for reuse.
The founders saw that the web CMS couldn't easily adapt to mobile devices or other digital channels, and it confined content to sites. So, they created software to solve this.
Contentful created the Headless CMS with structured content, unified in a single center, where it can be published everywhere. Additionally, the open APIs work seamlessly with other tools.
Contentful was founded in Berlin in 2013, the same year they launched the first version of their platform, which at that time they called "Storage Room".
The original idea of its founders was "a CMS for mobile applications," and the project debuted in 2011. 2 years later, the firm changed its name to Contentful and rapidly evolved to offer a content delivery service.
In addition, Contentful has an online marketplace, where it offers its users tools that give it more versatility and usefulness.
Among the companies that have trusted to use Contentful's services, we can find IKEA, Jack in the Box, Spotify, Red Bull, Twilio, and Urban Outfitters.
The company has offices in San Francisco, Denver and Berlin. It is valued at over $3 billion USD.
Who is Contentful for?
Although it's a tool created by developers for developers, its interface is so appealing and intuitive that even people without technical knowledge can use it.
For example, in addition to developers, it can be used by writers, designers, or content editors who wish to create infographics for the company's social networks or posts for the corporate blog.
It's a tool that facilitates the publication of content across all platforms, thus optimizing the creation, distribution, and dissemination of it.
While it's useful for various types of customers, it generally appeals to experienced clients who are committed to a roadmap for the evolution of their digital applications.
Clients have distributed teams, use different platforms, programming languages, and find the idea of embedding content across different channels quite useful.
Contentful has been adopted by globally recognized companies like Nike, Disney, EA, Viacom, Spotify, and Red Bull, among many others.
A striking factor of Contentful is that it has very low entry barriers. Being a cloud service with subscription plans (from free to enterprise), companies can create trial accounts in minutes and start experimenting with the content model and create their applications.
Advantages of Contentful
Contentful stands out for its benefits in creating and publishing content, and some of its special features include:
Role and Permission system
It turns out you don't want every user entering Contentful to be able to modify the content. You need to give publishing permissions to one user, while others can only edit.
Contentful allows you to build your entire permission system as you wish, and you can have developer, editor, and administrator permissions.
Permissions of the 'developer' role in our account
Having a role as a "developer" allows you not only access to the content but also to the API Keys and the model of your application. All of this enables you to have better control over the responsibilities of each team. Plus, you can name and describe each role as you see fit.
Content Distribution Infrastructure
This platform provides its own content distribution network (CDN), primarily designed to deliver content to users 24 hours a day.
Content Model Management
It's possible to design and create each custom content model according to your business needs. It's important to note that there are no pre-designed content models, so you must define the model that suits your requirements.
Simple User Interface
One of Contentful's features is that its user interface is really simple and very intuitive to use; no programming knowledge is necessary for optimal use.
Having a friendly interface avoids errors or confusion when entering content.
Omnichannel Content Distribution
Contentful has an API responsible for distributing all created content across all platforms with just one click, whether it's mobile, web, or any other type of platform.
All information and data from your website, app, or program, are backed up on two separate servers, and in case of deletion, they have a recovery window of 25 days, so there's no need to worry about accidental data loss.
Codeless Content Management
Being completely intuitive to use, Contentful's user interface allows even people with no programming knowledge at all to handle this platform normally.
As there's no need to code to use it, it's possible to add and edit content types, as well as manage it within the platform.
It's worth noting that Contentful reduces the effort in content management, but it still requires the development of a website or an application, so it does require development.
Contentful features an attribute that enhances accessibility and inclusivity by allowing content to be published in numerous languages directly from the platform.
Not only does it provide a more personalized user experience by catering to users in their native languages, but it also streamlines the content management process by enabling simultaneous handling of multiple language versions within the same system.
It broadens the scope of the business, potentially increasing audience engagement and improving SEO performance, as multilingual content can attract a more diverse range of internet users.
In Contentful's marketplace, there are many available applications, each one developed to implement a solution or facilitate a specific task. Among these, we can highlight the following:
Arboretum: An application for creating site maps by offering tree-like content hierarchies.
Bynder: Provider of customizable designs, editors can select any Bynder media without leaving Contentful.
Cloudinary: An asset library that links with Contentful to enhance and streamline the publishing process.
Commerce Layer: It's an app that directly links your products via their SKU to entries in Contentful, ideal for e-commerce.
Frontify: It's an app for brand management, with it you can ensure that all content to be published is compatible with the brand or company.
MANY FUNCTIONS IN A SINGLE PRODUCT
Contentful is quite an efficient product in terms of what it proposes. You can let your imagination fly and use it for many projects, whatever comes to mind, not just for blogs, but also for Websites, e-Commerce, Mobile Apps, infographics for social networks, so it's well worth it.