What’s the best API-first Next.js CMS solution?

Looking for a Next.js headless content management system solution? We’ve got you covered. Deliver content faster with your favorite JavaScript framework paired with Contentful.

From React to Vue, Gatsby, Next and more… today’s frontend developers have a plethora of different frameworks to choose from. What’s great about building with Contentful is that you're not limited to a particular one. Our flexible, API-first content platform lets you build lightning-fast websites and web apps with any framework of your choice.

You read that right. Contentful is language and framework agnostic. That means our content platform is a great match for developers since it works with your favorite tools and frameworks — including the popular React framework Next.js.

In this article, we’ll look at what makes Contentful a perfect match for Next.js, and how you can get started quickly building with Contentful on top of Next.js.

What are the benefits of using Next.js?

Next.js is a top choice for frontend developers working with React. The open-source framework is easy to use and provides an enjoyable developer experience through accelerating and simplifying build times, thanks to out-of-the-box React tools.

In particular, Next.js is great if you’d like to make use of the benefits of static-site generation when building content-rich websites. Next.js offers both server-side rendering (SSR) and static-site generation (SSG).

With SSG, rather than running JavaScript to build the page in the browser or on the server at the time a user visits your website, web pages are pre-rendered as static files using data fetched on the server at build time. This gives developers the power to quickly build scalable websites with improved search engine optimization (SEO) and enhanced performance, and makes for a stellar user experience for website visitors — offering speed, accessibility and convenience.

Start building

Use your favorite tech stack, language, and framework of your choice.

Why use Next.js with Contentful’s headless CMS

API-driven architecture promotes omnichannel experiences. By separating the frontend and backend components, this type of architecture simplifies work for developers and makes it possible to deliver content across multiple channels with the click of a button.

Next.js handles API data extremely well, and paired with Contentful, it is a powerful combination for your tech stack. Unlike traditional CMSes, our content platform has been API-driven since the start, built with a RESTful and GraphQL API architecture for content management, preview, and delivery.

With the RESTful APIs, you can deliver content across multiple channels — from websites and mobile apps to IoT, virtual reality games, and more. With the GraphQL API, you can quickly access content from multiple sources, supporting agile work.

There are plenty of other features that make Contentful special. These include:

  • Advanced command-line interface (CLI) tooling for seamless automation.

  • Content delivery networks (CDNs) that are optimized for fast image and content delivery to your users 24/7.

  • Open-source field editors that provide greater adaptability to customize and compose fields, while helping content editors be more productive.

  • The Forma 36 design system to help reduce the overhead of creating UI. We provide you the React components library for building and extending Contentful products in no time.

  • UI extensions that allow you to customize the Contentful web app with new ways of creating, managing, and consuming content. 

Powerful, configurable webhooks allow you to integrate Contentful with any API service. Want to add Vercel for hosting your Next.js and Contentful project? We have a webhook already integrated for that. 

How to build your first Next.js starter with Contentful

You can get up and running using our Next.js starter guide. Contentful Developer Advocate Brittany Walker will walk you through a step-by-step tutorial of how to use Contentful with Next.js. You’ll learn how to create a Next.js blog using a ready-made template, set up a Contentful account, create some content, and run and deploy your project with zero configuration.

What you will need

  1. Contentful account — sign up for free with GitHub, Google, or an email account.

  2. GitHub account‍

  3. A static hoster of your choice. In our guide, we use Vercel for deploying the project.

Customizing the Contentful Next.js starter

Building on the starter, there are all sorts of cool add-ons you can grab from the Contentful Marketplace for different use cases.

A great one to install is the GraphQL Playground, which gives you a convenient way to run queries against the Contentful GraphQL API from within the Contentful web interface. You can easily build, test, and debug queries before you need to write any code in your frontend application. 

If you’re after more resources on GraphQL, you can check out our handy cheat sheet to use as a quick reference guide on the most commonly used GraphQL features and tools. We have a GraphQL video series, too.

Contentful is extensible and adaptable, so there are many other apps you can use to extend and expand the capabilities of the Contentful web app. You can integrate your favorite third-party services, build better workflows, and customize what you can do with Contentful. Check out the Marketplace or build your own app — we have the docs to help you get started!

Looking for inspiration?

Developers around the world are embracing the power of Contentful to manage Next.js websites and applications.

Visit our Developer Showcase for examples of how the Contentful community is using Contentful and Next.js — including a blog post on building a React-powered, content-driven web app from ground zero and community insights on topics like how modern frameworks like Next.js can be harnessed to manage multiple extensions with ease.

And if you have any questions about using Next.js with Contentful, you can always get in touch with us and engage with our community members on Slack.

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