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Strapi vs Contentful - Which Is The Best CMS In 2022?

Tim Davidson
9 min read

Content Management Systems (CMSs) are software systems that help you manage the content of your website. A CMS allows you to input, update, delete content, and publish it online. It also makes it easy to create a database of content/blogs that is searchable by users. While there are many types of CMS available in the market, in this article, we'll compare two popular choices, Contentful vs. Strapi, and see how they stack up against each other.

What is Contentful?

Contentful homepage

Contentful is a cloud-based headless CMS that enables businesses to publish and distribute content to different outlets from a centralized hub. You can build custom content models using the provided templates and integrate various third-party services for improved workflow and customer experience. The platform supports virtually all content types, including blogs, images, and even music, which can be edited collaboratively by a team of editors with role-based permissions. Contentful also supports GraphQL and REST APIs, enabling content delivery across multiple channels, such as websites, mobile apps, and IoT devices.

Contentful dashboard screenshot

Contentful features

Contentful is a feature-rich CMS that's optimized to work with all types of presentation layers. This is supported by the following features: 

Content delivery network (CDN)

A CDN is a distributed server network that aims to ensure fast content delivery to users. The network also relies on advanced caching to enhance site performance. Contentful CDN is optimized to fast and round-the-clock content delivery. It uses Fastly and CloudFront CDNs, which are also used by renowned companies such as Twitter, Vimeo, and Github. The CDN responds to every request with a JSON document. 

Customization toolbox

Contentful features a toolbox for customizing content. This allows you to tailor your content model to meet your business needs and improve readability. For example, you can set up custom fields for their content so that it's well-organized. If you have a blog about basketball games, you can create custom fields like" team," players," and" season." This way, when writing blog posts on basketball games, you can fill out these custom fields so that the information is organized in an easy-to-read fashion. You can also publish content in different time zones and languages in one click to ensure your audience views fresh content on time. 

Uncluttered UI

Contentful offers a straightforward user interface that's intuitive for everyone, even for those without a software development background. The platform also supports numerous UI extensions for enhanced functionality and customization. 

Asset sharing 

Before any content is published, it undergoes a long chain of people for approval and modifications. This process is usually tedious and time-consuming as it often takes place offline. However, Contentful is built to optimize real-time collaboration, allowing users to create content libraries with managed permissions. This way, editors and developers can work on different blog parts and finally merge their changes in production. Developers can set up a preview site using the native Preview API to enable editors to monitor live changes of their edits in real time. This saves time and increases productivity, unlike in the early days when editors had to go through developers for a quick content fix. 

Pros and cons of Contentful 

Advantages of Contentful include: 

  • Value for money 

Contentful offers three pricing tiers: community, team, and premium. The community plan allows up to five users and supports all basic functionalities such as GraphQL support, SDKs, language, and framework agnostic. The team plan is ideal for small teams working on a scalable project. The plan goes for $489 per month with a one-month free option. The premium plans offer all features of the team plan with additional functionality, such as enhanced permission control and unlimited API calls. The plan is ideal for a single team or an entire organization looking to build multiple projects.  

  • Unifies content management and distribution 

This eliminates the need to use different CMS for each channel. This single hub of control approach makes it easier to update content and fix bugs. 

  • Offers fast performance, which consequently improves user experience 
  • Easy to use 
  • Highly customizable 

Disadvantages of Contentful include: 

  • You're limited on the number of content types you can use. The free and community plans are limited to 48 content types, while the premium plan has unlimited types.
  • It needs more customer support. The support team can only be contacted by opening a ticket on the vendor's website. 

What is Strapi?

Strapi homepage

Strapi is a headless CMS written in JavaScript. Unlike Contentful, Strapi is open-source, meaning you can install your own server and customize the front and back end through an API. This complete control over the client and server-side allows developers to work with their favorite tools; in turn, they can optimize security standards and performance and manage the cost of a project. Content teams use Strapi to publish and manage all types of content to all channels from a single hub. The platform also has an intuitive user interface and an admin panel for efficient content management. This panel is supported by the Role Based Access Control (RBAC) system, which allows an admin to configure permissions. The platform offers three roles; super admin, editor, and author. Super admins have access and control to all data, while the editors are allowed only to publish and edit content. The authors are allowed to post content they have created. 

Strapi features 

Below are some of the features that make Strapi an efficient CMS:

  • Self-hosted 

Strapi is a self-hosted CMS, meaning you're free to choose your hosting option. As such, you maintain complete control over your data; consequently, you won't lock yourself to the vendor. You can move your data to a different CMS. The platform has integrations to support third-party hosting providers. 

  • Authentication and authorization plugin 

Strapi allows you to install Roles and Permission plugins. As the name suggests, this plugin enables controlled access by managing processes such as sign-ups, logins, and password reset. You can control who has access to certain data while working as a team. You can also establish your open authentication (OAuth) to facilitate secure interactions with third-party services. 

  • REST and GraphQL API

Strapi comes with a built-in GraphQL and RESTful API that can be used to access your content from anywhere. With the recent update, the platform has improved filtering systems that allow you to dictate precise data to fetch using the APIs.

  • Pricing 

Strapi has four main pricing plans -- standard, bronze, silver, and gold. All plans feature basic features such as unlimited locales and access control. The standard version is free to use for as long as you wish. The bronze and silver plans go for $9 and $29 per admin user per month. The gold plan, on the other hand, is charged based on your custom business needs and comes with perks such as technical onboarding and premium customer support. 

Pros and cons of using Strapi 

There are several reasons why you might want to consider using Strapi for your next project, including: 

It's easy to use 

Strapi is designed to be easy to use, even for those new to web development. It has a user-friendly interface and extensive documentation to help you get started quickly. 

It's flexible 

Strapi is a flexible CMS that can be used for a wide range of projects. It can be easily customized to meet your specific needs. 

It's scalable 

Strapi is built on Node.js, which is a scalable platform. This means that your Strapi applications can easily handle spikes in traffic as your business grows. 

Security 

Strapi comes with built-in security features that protect your data and user information. It has features like role-based access control and JWT authentication that make it secure and trustworthy.

It has a growing community 

Strapi has an active community that can help you with questions or problems that you might have.

It's also worth noting that the new Strapi version supports Typescript. 

Cons of Strapi CMS

  • One of the downsides of using Strapi is that it is a resource hog. If you're not careful, you can easily use more resources than you need, slowing down your website or application.
  • It's less feature-rich than some of the other headless CMSs out there. It doesn't have as many plugins or themes and has limited documentation.  
  • Another downside of Strapi is that it can be relatively challenging to set up. While the learning curve is shallow, there is still much to learn to get everything set up correctly. This can be especially true if you're not a developer.

Contentful vs. Strapi Comparison 

To help you choose which CMS is more suitable for your business, let's compare the two based on the following criteria: 

Customization 

Both Strapi and Contentful offer robust customization tools for content and markdown editing. However, Strapi has more room for customization than Contentful due to its self-hosted model. This allows you to customize the backend and front-end to cater to your business needs. Contentful is a proprietary Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that provides hosting in its business model. This means you're limited to using the vendor's backend service, unlike with Strapi. As a result, you have no control over where your data is stored. Also, with your data hosted by the vendor, you face increased switching costs. 

Ease of use 

Ideally, you want a CMS that's user-friendly to not only your development team but also your content creators and editors. Contentful and Strapi score well on the user-friendliness front, as they have an intuitive user interface built for developers and non-developers alike. Editing and publishing content is easy and non-technical on both platforms. They also spare developers the tedious process of creating databases and controllers thanks to the APIs. This allows the development team to focus on other critical business logic processes. Most importantly, the two systems serve as a centralized hub for efficient management and distribution of content across all devices.

Pricing 

Contentful and Strapi have similar payment plans. Both have a free community plan for new users. However, a slight difference makes Strapi free plan more appealing. With Contentful's free community plan, you're limited to; 48 content types, 25,000 records, two admin panel roles, two locales, three environments, and five users. To remove these restrictions, you have to upgrade to a paid plan which starts at $489 a month. While the standard plan is relatively expensive, the real drawback is that you can only fully test whether the solution works for your business by committing to a paid plan. 

On the other hand, Strapi's free community plan doesn't have these restrictions. This means you can test the platform fully to see if it suits your business model without necessarily having to pay for access to basic features. Also, Strapi's per user per month payment model, which starts at $9, is more cost-effective than Contentful. It allows you to enjoy premium CMS service without committing a significant initial investment. 

Which CMS should you use?

Strapi scores highly in cost-effectiveness and customization. It is ideal for large enterprises that prioritize security and want complete data control. It's also suitable for small businesses operating on a strict budget. 

Despite being cost-effective, the Strapi payment model is built so that you'll incur high costs if you run numerous projects. So, if you're working on numerous projects, consider using Contentful. Also, the since the platform is cloud-hosted, you don't have to worry about configuring your own hosting service. This works well for small businesses with limited development talent. 

Frequently asked questions 

Q: What is a headless CMS?

A headless content management system is a backend content management platform that separates the content repository from the presentation layer/front-end. This allows you to fetch the content via REST or GraphQL API and display it on any device. These systems were built to make it possible to display the same content across multiple digital platforms/viewports. 

Q: Is Contentful better than Strapi?

It depends on your business needs. But generally, Strapi works well for large enterprises, while Contentful is ideal for small and medium businesses. 

Key takeaway 

The main difference between Contentful and Strapi is that the former is a cloud-hosted SaaS while the latter is self-hosted. Think of it as renting a house vs. owning a home. With Contentful, you're renting a home; that is, you'll use the vendor's hosting service. Using Strapi is like owning a home, meaning you're free to customize it as much as you would like.

Tim Davidson
Tim Davidson
Tim is the face of the company. When you want to kick off a new project, or an update on your existing project, Tim is your man. With a background in project management, Tim specialises in managing the chaos around the company.

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