Meeting the Needs of Both Devs and Marketers

Most headless content platforms serve one primary user, devs or marketers - Contento takes a different approach, delivering a product both will want to use

Josh Angell - CTO Contento

Josh Angell

Co-Founder / CTO

July 10, 2023

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5min read

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I recently read this excellent article from BCV called The Software Foundations of Our Personalized Future, and the following section really jumped out at me. It made me really think about why we’re building Contento, specifically why we’re obsessing over serving both dev teams and marketing teams.

While early headless tools seek to adequately serve both technical and marketing teams as decision makers and users, modern headless CMSs are increasingly orienting themselves towards either developers or marketers.

The developer-oriented tools differentiate in their ability to handle complex data schema and to optimize data storage, while the marketer-oriented tools focus on ease of use and UI/UX. Developer-oriented tools can support rapid load times and content deployment, and promote developer efficiency by catering workflows towards technical users.

On the other hand, marketing-oriented tools provide intuitive editing interfaces so that business users can update content without requiring developer assistance, reducing the load on developer resources. Faced with pressure to develop varied, high-quality content quickly and with minimal developer effort, companies will increasingly favor one or the other of these approaches, rather than the “middle of the road” option that does not optimize either developer or marketer experience.

— Source: Capital Ventures

Meeting the needs of devs and marketers

They note that users fit into one of the two camps, and that is a good thing - we’re betting on the lack of a sensible middle ground in the modern headless CMS ecosystem. But the key here for our gamble to work is we have to be really flipping good for both sides, as we’re competing with products that have picked a side and are doubling down on just one persona.

If I think about it too hard, it seems a bit terrifying - but I firmly believe it’s possible.

Surely everyone wants the best of both worlds? Happy devs and happy marketing folks? As a dev myself, I know it’s tempting to not think too hard about how the marketing team will use or understand the end result of what we build with a CMS.

It’s hard enough building the site well as it is - there are so many layers in today's front-end build chain, and a whole host of things to get right like website speed and performance, accessibility, SEO, third-party integrations etc etc. That list balloons on even the simplest of website build projects, and somewhere along the way you have to also design the content architecture and set up an admin panel for the marketing team.

But, I came to a realisation many years ago that we’re never building a website for just one user. It’s always at least two - one for the end users that are coming to the front end of your site, and one for the human beings who create and manage the content consumed by the first group. When someone buys a website, they see the time and cost of building the front end, but often miss the hidden work of building and designing the admin panel - which is what they will actually use day-to-day.

I used to work as a consultant, and I’d often meet with content creators and marketing team members who were struggling with an admin panel that was confusing, often overwhelming and that created a major time suck for seemingly minor tasks. As devs, we can’t neglect this set of users - they have to be looked after just as much as the ones browsing your site.

So, what platform do you choose?

In my opinion, you’re left with three main choices when picking which headless SaaS platform to build on:

  • One that has an excellent developer experience (DX), fantastic content modelling, and all the tooling you could wish for - this speeds up your dev time, and allows you more budget for a really slick end result.

  • One that marketing folks love and feel comfortable with, but perhaps you have to compromise on front-end flexibility, or have to hack constantly through a dev-unfriendly interface to get around that.

  • Use one of the more established headless platforms that try to offer a good compromise - but it really is a compromise on both sides and nothing feels fun, it’s all very … meh.

I don’t like any of those options.

It’s one of the reasons that for many years I built sites on Craft CMS - it does a really, really good job at serving both sets of users. The only downside in my opinion is that Craft is still a monolith - it can run in a headless mode, but it still needs setting up, hosting, updating etc etc. There is talk of a cloud offering, but even so - it’s inherently a very customisable platform, endlessly so - which for a lot of situations isn’t actually necessary.

As a dev, if I’m delivering a B2B SaaS marketing site for someone, I don’t want to have to sit on a retainer to keep software up-to-date, making sure that plugins don’t conflict or break things, and deal with the complexities of hosting.

Contento - making life great for everyone

This is why we’re building Contento. Headless content management as a platform, uncompromising in our mission to make both devs and marketing folks ridiculously happy when using our product.

We didn’t pick the name Contento for any old reason - it comes from the Italian for “happy”, in Spanish it means “glad” - which is what we want both sets of users to feel. Look at our logo - it’s very intentional in its design. We’re very intentional in our mission of serving both sides, and this mission is born out of my experience as a dev, and Alan (our CEO’s) as a marketer.

Because if the devs are happy, and the marketing team are happy, then your end users will get a better experience.

That’s why we’re doubling down on getting the content modelling right, and building out first-party SDKs for all those hot frameworks. It’s why we’re hand-rolling an SEO module right in the core of our platform. It’s why we’re obsessing over the UX of the interface, and following the principle of “make everything so obvious my kids can use it”.

Picking a niche

To fulfil this mission, we had to narrow down the scope of your traditional CMS product - we can’t build a system that delivers on the promise of making both sides happy if we also try and build a system that can cope with any kind of website you can dream up. We have to niche down, so that we can do away with the hundreds of permutations that will otherwise crop up. This is why we’re focussing our platform on one that serves marketing websites, specifically B2B ones, primarily in the SaaS or technology space.

We’re not going to touch e-commerce. Or deal with user-submitted data. Or having some kind of booking engine. Or, in fact, anything that doesn’t directly relate to the needs of marketing websites. Other tools do those things well - so use them. If you’re building an online shop, don’t use us - use Shopify, Craft Commerce, or Magento.

But if you’re building a B2B SaaS marketing website, and are bothered about an excellent DX without the marketing team hating you or constantly asking you to add yet another blog post? Well, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll be letting you sign up for a trial to give it a spin soon, but if you want to get in early then just drop us a line.

Josh Angell - CTO Contento
Josh Angell

Co-Founder / CTO

Josh Angell, the technology lead, has over a decade of experience building websites and Content Management Systems.

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