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Web Development: The Difference Between Contentful and WordPress Websites
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Apr 13, 2022

Web Development: The Difference Between Contentful and WordPress Websites

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by Marceline Ball
The internet can be a great asset for businesses. It provides a way to connect with others and create a space for customers, employees, and prospects. Websites can be created for business or personal use, but some are more cost effective than others. Those who are unfamiliar with website software or coding may feel overwhelmed.
If you own a business, you are going to need to have a way to manage your website and the content on it. The leading tech solution for that is a content management system or CMS.
Different CMS platforms offer varying levels of customization and user experience. For businesses on a budget, platforms like WordPress offer simple, ready-made templates. More robust software like Contentful offers a more customized user experience. At Watermark, we educate our clients about the differences between traditional CMS platforms to determine which is best for them, whether it's updating existing web pages or building a brand new website.

First things first: Learn the web development jargon!

Web development is like learning another language, and it is important to understand the common terms used in order to be successful. Here are some definitions of common web development terms for your reference.
Plugin: A software component that can be added to an existing computer program to enhance its functionality and capabilities.
Headless CMS: This style of CMS handles content management and input separately from how the content is displayed to the user. 
Rendering:The process in web development where the website code is turned into the interactive, live page that visitors see.
Cloud Content Management System: Cloud CMSs store the data on a server hosted by the company and allow you to access them from anywhere, as opposed to a CMS that is installed on your own servers, that are accessed in the location that they are set up.
Coupled CMS: Users can create content and make it live through the front end of the CMS.
Self-Hosted: self-hosting involves either hosting content on your own personal server or getting a 3rd party company to host your site or application, and you get to build and set up everything with your choice of tools and technologies.
API: Stands for Application Programming Interface. An API allows two applications to communicate so that they are each integrated with each other. For example, you might see that you can sign up to an online platform using your google or facebook login, this is the work of APIs in action.
REST: REST is a data structure for APIs, it’s probably the most common, but certainly not the only one.
RESTful API: An API that is set up in the REST style. The wordpress REST API is a perfect example of this.
WYSIWYG: Stands for, “what you see is what you get,” WYSIWYG in web development refers to content editing tools in which you are able to edit the content in a format that looks similar or the same as it will appear in the final display. Front end developers can use these tools to design a wide range of digital experiences based on more than one content type.
Now, back to our original question: What is the difference between WordPress and Contentful?

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a self-publishing platform that began when blogging started to become popular. It is now one of the most popular CMS platforms on the internet, offering not only blogs, but also personalized websites for both personal and business use. It is well-known for being easy to use, even for novice web developers who are not professional web developers.
A WordPress installation will give you access to hundreds of design theme templates and thousands of plugins to help you improve and grow your site as your business changes.
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The pros of using WordPress:

User friendly

The site owner can easily and intuitively edit and add pages and upload new content and images without extensive web development and management; no coding knowledge is necessary.

Affordable

Most features on WordPress are free. However, to be a functional website for businesses, upgrading to paid hosting is the way to go. Creating a simple website within budget with thousands of themes and plugins is feasible with WordPress.

Responsive

We all know that being mobile-minded for web development and creating responsive sites for mobile responsiveness increases UX (user experience). WordPress is good about seamlessly reaching its rendering from desktop to mobile as a coupled CMS.

Open-Source

WordPress sites are managed and maintained by an open community of developers rather than a single, private company. Any WordPress code can be used and shared in public.

WYSIWYG

Which CMS Wordpress vs Contently-100
WordPress is generally WYSIWYG friendly with easy content blocks; no HTML language necessary, but you can use it if you speak it.

The Cons of Using WordPress

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Frequent plugin updating can cause possible site breaks

WordPress themes and WordPress plugins often need updates. If you rely on a theme or plugin, it may break your theme or plugin. That's because WordPress themes and plugins tend to be more extensive than you need, and they may be slowing your site down. If you're trying to build a "fancy" WordPress website without any developer experience, you'll probably have to rely on themes and plugins from third-party services.

ProTIP: Remember that plugins may not always be what you need, and even if they are, they might have extra code that slows down your website. Too much code on a site can make it slow and hard to use.

Vulnerability

Due to the popularity of WordPress and the frequent use of third-party plugins, there is the risk of vulnerability to cyber hackers, which puts your email subscribers and users at risk.

What is Contentful?

Contentful is an API-first, headless CMS. It's agile and intuitive, allowing content to be easily managed and published quickly to desktop and mobile apps. Developers can build sites with a programming language and templating frameworks. With these features, the back-end of a website built using Contentful is very customizable, faster, and scalable.

The pros of using Contentful

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Customizable

Rather than building around a pre-made template or theme constrictions, developers can customize anything in the back-end as well as the front end to their liking while allowing content managers to edit and change content. Contentful can be built into existing software architecture, allowing for seamless integration between the two.

API Centered

With a robust API at the center of its technology, Contentful sites are built to deliver your content across omnichannel platforms quickly and seamlessly from the application to the presentation layer wherever that might live.

Cost Effective

Like WordPress, Contentful offers its base plan for free with options for paid upgrades. As your business grows and changes, your site will be easily scalable as you add more advanced features to engage your buyers.

The cons of using Contentful

Not as easy to use WYSIWYG:

Because Contentful is a headless CMS, developers are needed to create the front end, the WYSIWYG set-up is not used, so there is more of a chance of confusion when adding content; once the data structure is built, it's more complicated to change down the road.

Not DIY-Friendly: 

Handling API rules and final rendering requires a developer or development team to create a front-end for your product. However, editing and adding content can be done by non-developers. If you don't have an in-house developer, hiring an experienced web design team might be the best bet to take advantage of the benefits of building Contentful sites.

WordPress or Contentful?

As is the case with any marketing technology, there is no silver bullet soultion to every businesses needs. It all comes down to what your business needs, your budget, and if your internal team has the skills to handle complex web development.

Do you need help managing your digital experiences?

Not only does Watermark have a web development team, but also a design and content team and SEO best practices at your fingertips. So, whether you choose WordPress or Contentful to upgrade your current site or to build a brand-new one from the ground up, we've got your back-end so you can focus on the front-end and your customers.
Contact us today for a workshop session to analyze and gain insights on your website needs.