Contentful, according to a digital artist

I admit it: At first glance, I thought the name Contentful said it all. It’s a company that’s full of...content?

As it turns out, that’s not quite right. I began using Contentful a few months ago as a tool for building art experiences based in web technologies. I’m here to explain everything I know, in my own words.

What does Contentful do?

Contentful helps you store, manage and distribute the content that makes up your web application or digital experience. Users can upload content to just one place and distribute it across all channels using Contentful's five Content Delivery APIs (CDA). Front-end work creates the presentation layer for your content on each channel. 

I tend to see things in pictures. So for the visual learners out there, I’ve created a graphic illustrating the above idea. Think of it as a Contentful cheat sheet.

An infographic depiting where content comes from

Multiple team members contributing at once

This system lets two important contributors to the creative process — developers and creators — bypass backlogs and bottlenecks to focus on the jobs they do best. Developers can work with APIs and presentation layers, while non-technical creators can work on content in the Contentful web app. 

Contentful helps to make your overall workflow more efficient, and allows your team to focus on creating. Contentful’s platform handles the organization and delivery process.

In the end, your users don’t care why their content isn’t available when and where they want it, they only care if it is available and they have no problem going elsewhere to find it if it’s not. With so much content out there today, the opportunity cost of brand-hopping is little to none.

Contentful helps your company to stay on top of its delivery game. Don’t be yet another bad communicator. 😉

Content models in Contentful 

In Contentful, you’ll need to create something called a content model. This model gives structure to your content, so that it’s in small, reusable chunks. Each of these content chunks is formatted as a specific category of content, such as text, title and image. Contentful refers to those categories as fields and each chunk is called an entry. (Use the Contentful glossary when you need it!)

Still confused about how content modeling works? Think of an encyclopedia — you know, those large sets of books labeled A to Z that existed before Wikipedia?

An gif of an encyclopedia opening

Let’s take the “A” volume of an encyclopedia to start. The volume probably has a main title, A, on the cover, a publication notice on the first page, and the body of the volume that describes every word that starts with the letter A with text and pictures. Instead of grouping all this content into one very long entry, you’ll separate them into three. .

  • Title entry: The title A is a text field, and it’s the only field in its entry.

  • Publication entry: The publication notice is a text field, the only field in its entry.

  • Single-word entry: Each word gets its own entry with an image field and a text field.

Structuring content this way lets you easily reuse what you need. For example, that publication notice needs to go in each of the 26 volumes. Rather than rewriting or copy and pasting the same text over and over again, just reuse the entry you have! 

This is just an example for the purpose of explaining the principle of content modeling. Creating a content model can be a significant project. Contentful has resources to help! 

Where to get started with Contentful

You can start using Contentful immediately — jump on in! They have all the resources to guide you through the process. I suggest starting with the help center. 

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