By Liz Osterloh, on Sep 12, 2019

Experimentation is now baked into Contentful with new Optimizely app

If you’re a marketer, or you build things for marketers, you know that experimentation is everything. When creating a website or another digital product, you could debate for hours over the right tagline or where to put an image. Or you can test a few variations of that content, measure the results, and iterate. Benefit of the second method: you deliver faster, and can base your decisions on what’s actually bringing you results.

Optimizely is designed to run experiments around content performance and personalization. And now you can run these experiments on structured content: From today, Optimizely is an officially supported third-party app on Contentful.

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Run experiments on structured content

With Optimizely on Contentful, you can run experiments on top of structured content for the first time, across all digital platforms – web, mobile, TV, wearables or even voice interfaces.

This integration works by replacing entries in your references with a new content type: a variation container. This container is part of your normal content model, and it manages the original version of your content, plus any variations you want to experiment with.

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Because these variation containers are baked into our structured content architecture, you get deep workflow improvements. Editors and marketers can control content variations from within the web app, and they don’t lose steam context switching between interfaces or asking for developer help.

Developers get the flexibility to build experiments that are as complex or as simple as needed. Whatever you model in an entry, you can test: from the tiniest text to entire page layouts. And because experiment decisions are made server-side without additional requests, variations render fast — less than 200 milliseconds fast.

Under the hood: how the Optimizely app integrates with Contentful

The Optimizely app uses the capabilities of entry extensions, one of our newest UI extensions. This makes it possible to replace the entire editor interface with a single extension, allowing you to totally customize the editing experience.

In the case of the Optimizely app, this means a custom UI is created on top of the variation container. This custom UI talks to Optimizely through their REST API and manages any variations you create. These variations then appear in your Contentful web app as if they were any other content type.

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You can find out more about how this works in our Optimizely documentation.

What do I need to start running experiments?

The Optimizely app is currently in beta and is available to enterprise customers with a committed plan. You also need to have an Optimizely Full Stack Business plan.

Want to know more about running experiments with the Optimizely app? Ask for a demo here.

Liz Osterloh

Technical writer at Contentful and friend to engineers. Liz has spent the last 5+ years turning tech and data-heavy topics into stories that speak to both developer and non-developer audiences. Find Liz at Contentful community meetups reporting on your awesome projects.