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Aug 11, 2022

Watermark Water Cooler | Thinking Outside of the Wordpress Box

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by Marceline Ball

WordPress gets a lot of love for its flexibility and ease of use, but it's not the right solution for every project. In this video, Watermark's lead developer, Marceline, talks about the strengths and weaknesses of WordPress and explains why Contentful and other CMS could be better options.

Marceline, welcome to the . How are you doing today? Thank you. I'm doing well. Good. Can you introduce yourself, yeah, absolutely? The audience.
Marceline, tell us a little bit about how you got into development and web development.
Well, you know With the world changing and whatnot, especially in 2020. Yeah. I decided I would go and just pursue a passion that I've kind of been wanting to for a while. I decided, okay, now's the time to learn. I went to a coding boot camp. Yeah. Gotten that. And not too long after graduating there - I joined y'all here. Yeah.
Awesome. Welcome to the team by the way. And we've enjoyed working with you so far. You know, we're talking about Contentful. Obviously, we use. As part of our web development process. And I say part of it, because there's, we'll get into some of that later, but just tell us a little bit about Contentful and like, why is it different or, you know, what makes it different?
Yeah, sure. Absolutely. So Contentful is amongst the content management sort of systems. And a lot of people are more familiar with things like WordPress, where. It is very user-friendly, which is a nice thing about that. But it is also, you can run into a lot of difficulties with how we are deciding to process its information and how it is being the security levels with WordPress can be a little bit, it is wonderful and it's an open-source system, but it Al is also difficult in it's an open source system.
Mm-hmm, and there are a lot of people who. Knowledge as to where those weaker points are. Yeah. Yeah. You know, one thing that I always talk to our clients about, and again, WordPress is a fine solution. Absolutely. I mean, think, I think it's not, not that we're saying that it's not, but you know, one thing that we've come across is okay, we've built a WordPress site and we used to be a WordPress-only company.

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That's how we built all of our sites. And then made this kind of move into this headless CMS kind of world, which repress has the opportunity to do that as well. But we ran into this kind of conversation of, okay, we've got all these themes that have been built off of that, you know, once that developer's gone, you know, and they're not updating that theme anymore.
It becomes a nightmare, right? It's like, how do we solve it? And we get all the time like clients to come to us and we're like, Hey, we got the, we've got this theme that we're working on. And oh, like, we can't support it anymore because we can't ask that developer who built it any questions anymore. Or we've got like 10 million plugins that are running this site.
That might be an exaggeration, but you know, but 20, I've seen 20, I've seen 30 plugins in the back end. They're running this thing. And those plugins have vulnerabilities. They have. Update issues, they update issues.  You know, so it's like as much as we wanna say that WordPress is like a set in and forget it and let you know, let people edit the content on the back end and it's good forever.
Truthfully, it's not like we've seen, we've seen these issues and run into 'em all the time. You know, why is Contentful different in that, that way? Do we have plugins in Contentful, right? Well, there are potentials for plugins in Contentful as well, but it's a different setup. Because you had mentioned it's like a headless CMS, which is very different from a traditional CMS in the way it's done.
So everything on Contentful is stored on the Contentful servers and you're accessing it through API calls. And that is different from a typical WordPress thing and it allows a lot more. Creativity with how you bring in the data. Now, headless CMS is great in a lot of ways that you can get it to any sort of port like it is an excellent resource for if you're looking for a mobile design like if you're building apps, it's not specifically a website design mm-hmm, but that allows you to then take that and build out a custom front.
And so then your developers would be in charge of what's going into all of these places and you have much more control over that as opposed to the themes that you might have to be based on in WordPress or things like that. Yeah. Yeah. You know, I think there are cases for everything, right?
Like there's a case why WordPress might be better. There's a case why platform-like content might be better. You know, I think one of the things that we get into and talk with our clients about is like how robust of a system you really need. And you know, what's like, what, what, what makes Contentful so robust?
I mean, some of the things you talked about, like this, these API connections like that, you can get your data from anywhere. Like it doesn't matter. And that's why, you know, some of this conversation is that maybe content really isn't a CMS it's, it's like, it's a. It's maybe bigger than that or how, how are we, do we still consider it a CMS?
I mean, it is, and it's, it's a platform in, in itself. Yeah. But it also fills the same role as the typical CMS. Like, I, I feel like it is one of the things it does is it is like that headless first delivery is one of the bigger differences. There are things like we had, you mentioned with WordPress, you can decouple yeah.
The WordPress data from the present presentation. So you get similar, although not exactly the same vibe of how you can make calls to it, because it's not directly set up for that, there are sometimes some interesting hiccups and different ways of you know, other problems that you can run into.
Yeah. And we've done that before and run into problems, to run WordPress at headless. But you know, I think one of the most powerful things that I've seen in content is just this ability to, it's not only pulling this data from anywhere, but it's also like really this idea of the content. Can move and be very UN rigid in, in a way.
Which I think is, is very powerful. Like I think the web is moving and it's such a fast pace. I was just at, we were just at a, a conference, not that long of we're looking at some of the big, you know, the presenter were showing us some of the big insurance agencies and that the, they were moving content almost daily on their site.
And I think Contentful lends itself to be a platform to be able to be that like very nimble. What, kind of things is Contentful doing that allows content to flow? Kind of like that and be, be less rigid. Yeah, absolutely. So Contentful is your structure, what are content models? Mm-hmm and they can have different relationships with each other and different ways of set up.
Actually has a pretty nice system of how you can nest different content models into one another and move those around, move references around. So. Relatively user-friendly and you're able to move data as you need it. You can replace different models in other places as you need them. It's, there's a lot of flexibility built into the system.
It can be a very modular sort of design, which is very useful when things are constantly changing as they tend to be. Yeah. And AB testing, we have options to do that. Exactly. Which is a huge, like, you know, there are all kinds of things that, that. It lends itself to being a little bit more flexible. Yeah, absolutely.
That is something that is really nice about having a setup like Contentful. Yeah, I will. So the negative, I'll say the negative, and Contentful is you do need developers to help you do this. Like it's, it's not you're not, you're not gonna be able to just go set up a WordPress site. Throw a theme on it.
And here you go. You're, you're kind of, you know, not, I wouldn't say set it and forget it, but it's like, you can, you can get a designer to build a WordPress site off of a theme and not need a developer. Yeah. But, but I think on the content site, you need, you need somebody on the dev side to help you build this.
Yes, absolutely. Content is really nice in that flexibility and you can do anything you want with the front end. However, you have to build a front end. Yeah. So yeah, you do need someone who is able to develop that in, you know, whatever language. There are many options for developers who can do that. It's but you do need someone who is and what languages are content built on.
So we build on JavaScript through reacting and we also use Gatsby as our primary stack to get the websites up and running. Mm-hmm cool. Well, I think we've covered a lot.  But obviously there, we could probably talk for another 15 minutes on this. We don't wanna spend too much time. We're just giving kind of an overview of Contentful.
Is there anything that you wanna leave the audience with about like, Contentful and, or just things as a developer in the Contentful space? Yeah. No, absolutely. I just want to mention just, there are a lot of really good options for the way you handle your content management system, and for an individual person, stuff like WordPress can be great, but when you are looking to, you know, expand out some and get, you can do some really, really wonderful design, really nice sites when you.
Come at it from a Contentful angle or a headless CMS angle. Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Marceline, for being on this episode. And always as always like, and subscribe to our channel, we love feedback. Do you have anything in the content you want to hear about anything about agency, life, anything about anything we do here at watermark?
We'd love, to create a video for you. So until next time - signing off.