Introduction to Contentful CMS: A Content Specialist’s Perspective
By Isabel Myers
As a Content Specialist (and not a DevOps), you’d think that I might not have an opinion on the subject, because after all, what’s the difference between a traditional CMS and a headless Content Management System to the person managing the content?
Why would the way a CMS looks and feels matter to a non-technical person? The real fun happens in the back end, right? However, you’d be surprised how much your end-users care too.
The Users’ Perspective
Content Bloom recently kicked off our official partnership with Contentful. As such, I’ve been working more and more within the Contentful CMS. As an experienced CMS user, I know my learning curve when using a new Content Management System is not as steep as it would be to a brand-new user. However, with Contentful, there was no learning curve at all.
Moving from a heavier traditional CMS to Contentful had me on my toes constantly, but not because I’d forgotten how to perform a task, but because I was consistently asking: Is that it? That seems too seamless, where are the usual extra steps?
Contentful’s careful, intuitive choices won me over in no time at all. A bit like a matryoshka doll, each section on a web page builds on itself neatly in nested layers, allowing you to delve deep into personalized options without needing to open new tabs or stretch your page out unnaturally.
You never get lost from your base layer page because it never goes away. No need to scroll through multiple menus or enlist a robust foldering system to ensure items don’t get misplaced; they are all self-contained on your page. Connecting pages, be it parent-to-child or related content, might be the most intuitive process and what pleased me the most. You can map the connections between items visually on each item via the Contentful sidebar, which is a lifesaver when it comes to ensuring nothing goes live that should not be live.
Adding and adjusting media is just as simple with Contentful’s media API. Anything you want added to the media filter can be dragged and dropped – in groups no less – and resized, cropped, and otherwise edited in the CMS itself.
Getting Organized with Contentful
As someone who loves organization, I would be remiss not to mention another favourite option of mine. Contentful allows the smooth introduction of tags on items, acting as a sort of invisible foldering system. There is nothing more satisfying and helpful than a searchable, easily manageable tag, especially when content naming schemes might be on the more flexible side of best practices. Hey, we can be honest here. We’re all human on a Monday morning.
Headless CMS Functionalities
Now, perhaps it’s time I came clean to you. When introduced to Contentful, I really had no idea what a headless CMS meant. I am proficient in multiple CMS for the exact purpose of handling multiple distinct sites. This meant training up not just myself but my team and any casual users in the different functionalities of multiple different systems as well as the different rules that apply to different roles and types of users within content operations. That’s a lot to keep in mind.
With Contentful, the headless nature of the CMS means it easily lends to its users, both back end and content with a framework that works with multiple different development platforms while keeping the same front end for content no matter which language you choose and is amenable to creating and upkeeping a whole large-scale system of satellite sites that are not meant to connect to one another.
So, what does that mean? It means less training and a faster pick-up when a new site is created. But what if you’ve never used a CMS? Don’t worry. Even pros need guides on all new processes, and Contentful has exceeded my expectations there too. Built into the CMS itself is a help center and training courses to get you started and keep you learning with advanced courses.
Things that go into making any work session as fuss-free as possible might matter just as much but can be glossed over by a daily user because they fade into the background. Contentful boasts SEO support, content versioning for rollbacks and history, and a great archiving feature to safely retire content you’re not ready to delete but can’t have going live again by accident.
They have content scheduling, perfect for those 4 AM releases, and a really, really thorough internal search feature for finding that one piece of content you forgot to properly label. And they have a great library of extensions to help you make the most of Contentful for your own personalized needs.
The only thing not included is a great dev team, but we definitely have you covered there.
Interested in learning more about our structured content management services? Or how you can optimize your business model overnight with the right content governance model and custom development? Book your free technical consultation appointment today.
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