A static marketing site required constant developer support to update and launch new content
Developers spent time testing and iterating code to update web pages rather than developing new functionalities
A lack of governance meant anyone could change anything, threatening consistent branding
A solution partner streamlined the migration to a composable content platform
Structured content breaks assets into smaller modules, ready for reuse
An easy-to-use editorial interface enables marketers to add to and iterate content independent of developers
Governance features outline which team members have access to edit specific content
“With Contentful, we were able to build a strong governance structure using tagging and permissions. This includes guardrails to ensure content is of quality and is checked end to end for bugs before publishing it to our live site. These features have also allowed us to create custom user roles."
“We are starting to reimagine our website. We want to think about our users as going on a journey with our products as opposed to just thinking about the transaction. This requires new, top-of-funnel content and a vision for it.”
“One of the things that really sold me on Contentful is the reusability — the reference, the content types. As an engineer, that's what we want. We want to create small modules that can be reused in infinite different ways.”
Remember that stock you bought on Robinhood yesterday? And those drinks you Venmoed your friend for? There’s a good chance those — and the countless other online transactions you complete — are fueled by financial service company, Plaid. Plaid’s platform authenticates user bank accounts and securely connects them with apps, moving money with ease.
However, this element of ease was largely missing from Plaid’s content operations. Dialed into building out a platform that now supports more than 7,000 digital financial services, Plaid opted to hard code its marketing site, only using a CMS for its blog. As the company grew in popularity and offerings, its site reached 200 static pages. Despite a modest collection of content, the rigidity of Plaid’s set up demanded constant attention from developers and deterred teams from developer new, outside-of-the-box content, as described by Software Engineer Jamie Kelly.
“When marketing needed a landing page for a time-sensitive campaign, we had to manually build every component, style them, and add content. It was a slow, painful process — which we had to balance with routine software development cycles.” Kelly pointed out.
In 2020, Plaid began searching for an alternative platform to alleviate that pain and take back development bandwidth for other projects.
Establishing a support system and calculated content model
After weighing a handful of content management tools, the company landed on Contentful. The platform offered all the functionalities Plaid was seeking plus ample channels for support should questions arise before, during, or after migration.
Plaid kicked off its move to the composable content platform with an audit of existing marketing site content. Its team wanted to ensure the content model built would be well-received by users and support its gamut of content long-term — with minor iterations, of course.
The Web team headed the efforts, building the first content model — a landing page with five modules. Over the next year, the Marketing and Web team continued to build out new pages but lacked the bandwidth to fully migrate its marketing site. Plaid asked Contentful solution partner Kin + Carta to write migration scripts for more than 24 high-traffic, previously hard-coded pages.
With content structured, templates in place, and its most important pages migrated, Plaid leveled-up its Contentful implementation, utilizing governance features to configure unique user roles and permissions. It was essential that certain content could not inadvertently be changed by the wrong person. Today, just 52 of Plaid's 1,200+ employees have editing rights, some of which are more granular than others. These guardrails and a unique configuration of tags help content creators approach site changes with confidence.
That confidence is shared by developers who no longer have to worry about something breaking (and perhaps more importantly, finding time to fix it).
Scaling to 1200 pages and migrating a blog
Plaid developers can now channel resources into improving the functionality of Contentful instead of standing up new landing pages or debugging code.
“Contentful has freed up our time to focus on engineering-specific tasks,” Kelly said.
That shift has also allowed Plaid to dramatically scale its marketing website with no change to developer headcount. The four developers that were responsible for maintaining Plaid’s 200-page static website now support more than 770 pages of Contentful-powered content produced by its growing marketing team.
This success inspired Plaid to take on another project: migrating its blog to Contentful. It took a similar approach to this process as it did with its marketing site, establishing a set of templates and content types to support spinning up new posts at pace while maintaining brand consistency.
The next phase of this project will see updates to the blog’s navigation. The team aims to find better ways to surface relevant content users.
Scoping out education- and editorial-focused next steps
With confidence lingering from a successful migration and a well-mapped content model, Plaid can graduate toward optimizing its digital experience. It hopes to harness the flexibility and scalability of the platform to the benefit of its customers — which starts will storytelling instead of just selling.
“We are starting to reimagine our website,” Khalid Nadiri, Strategic Initiatives at Plaid, said.”We want to think about our users as going on a journey with our products as opposed to just thinking about the transaction. This requires new, top-of-funnel content and a vision for it.”
CMS Manager Andrea Kramer has another item on her radar, increasing educational onboarding to improve user understanding of Contentful. Kramer describes Contentful’s modular nature as a “new paradigm for CMSes.” The plan is to introduce a knowledge base and training flow that outlines the basics of how to use the tool and work with the company’s content model.
“In an ideal world, every non-technical user will be able to complete a workflow. That means being able to go up and down the ladder of adding and updating media or content and getting pages published,” Kramer said. Plaid engineers plan to support this initiative by continuing to build new apps and enhance the editorial UI using the Contentful App Framework.
So far, they’ve created Mimeograph — an app attached to the content type sidebars that allows users to safely clone entries and references locked by governance. It removes the tags that prevent certain users from editing the clone, allowing them to build and riff off of pre-existing content without risk.
Pushing forward with speed and scale for a seamless experience
By adopting Contentful, the Plaid digital team was able to scale its marketing site nearly sixfold without increasing the size of the developer team. Members of the expanded marketing team are able to produce and iterate their own content across the site while developers can focus on the structures that underpin the site while adding additional templates and functionality.
Now Plaid is examining how Contentful can power the next generation of the company’s overall web presence by providing the flexibility, governance, and reusability capabilities that empower Plaid’s teams to deliver the seamless experience its customers expect — across its product, and its own website.