Case study: Nasty Gal

Nasty Gal takes ecommerce to the next level
with Contentful

Serving 5+ million visits per month and growing rapidly, the technology stack is critical to Nasty Gal. They have a full team of engineers, dedicated to building a scalable infrastructure and are widely known as an innovator in the ecommerce space.

As Nasty Gal were building out their own platform, they tried a myriad of different approaches: from the WYSIWYG editor of the ecommerce platform they were using to dotCMS and a few other systems in between. They needed something that would enable them to easily update content across their international web-sites as well as their mobile apps, but nothing seemed to work the way they wanted.

To cope with the frenetic expansion of the business, the online team put together a system that loaded static HTML files to the server. However, the developers ended up spending a lot of their time doing manual updates to the website, because it was too complicated for the content creators. Instead of building scalable processes for the content team, the engineering team got stuck spending a lot of their energy on something the content team could be managing themselves. Then their engineering manager found Contentful

Kicking it into high gear

Switching to Contentful, the Nasty Gal team finds that the modular approach really allows them to manage content once instead of repeating themselves across languages and platforms. Because of the easy-to-use interface, the development team are now handing over the responsibility of publishing and updating content to the content team, and find that they can focus their efforts on creating scalable processes for the future. Reflecting on how working with Contentful changed their daily workflow, Gareth Ballester, Senior Web Developer at Nasty Gal, says: "we are set up to process a volume and quality of content that just wasn’t be possible before."

Content meets commerce

Since Nasty Gal started using Contentful, nobody thinks about content in terms of pages and fonts anymore. Instead, the whole team starts to approach content as modular pieces that can be stitched together as needed and easily re-used across different contexts. This approach drastically reduces the scope of work involved in running a successful online business and, as a result, frees developers up to focus on other things.

Nasty Gal website

Nasty Gal leverages Contentful's content APIs to create immersive fashion lookbooks

One of these new things is the Nasty Gal Lookbooks, which brings content and commerce together in a seamless way for their customers to browse and shop. The development team is especially excited about the ability to easily nest sub-entries, put validation on fields and set rules for sub-entries, to make process really robust.

“Contentful is forcing us to think about content in a more abstract way. We’ve gotten our product people onto this way of thinking too, which makes it that much easier to work together.”

Royce Hsu, UX Developer, Nasty Gal

Delegating responsibilities

So far the Nasty Gal development team has moved their homepage, mobile app landing page and education page over to Contentful, and they are busy updating their mobile apps to work with the Contentful backend next. As they are handing over responsibility for maintaining the pages to their content team, they are finding new ways of doing things that they hadn’t even thought about doing with their previous set-up. “It frees us up from doing manual updates, so we can focus on building ways for our editors to manage those updates in much nicer and easier ways" observes Gareth Ballester.

"To succeed in the retail business, our marketing colleagues need to be able to promote different fashion items at different times very quickly. We are still not keeping up with all the content needs, but thanks to Contentful we are getting there quickly” admits Royce Hsu. The next challenge Royce and Gareth are taking on is to extend Contentful with JavaScript editor widgets with custom UI for certain fields and they are very excited about the possibilities with the Content Management API.

“Our iOS development team has also started the integration with Contentful, so that we can leverage the same content for web and mobile. This is something else that is really difficult with any other CMS. With Contentful, it has actually been a really great experience!”

Gareth Ballester, Sr. Web Developer, Nasty Gal

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