Kontent.ai v Contentful – Comparing apples with apples
In our last Software Head-to-Head, we used insights from our senior development team to compare Sitecore and Kontent.ai. While the two Content Management Systems (CMS) are established market options, it could be argued that it is not a like-for-like comparison. Fundamental differences bound up in their construction as coupled (Sitecore) and headless (Kontent.ai) solutions are important to understand when making your selection, but if you decide that the greater agility provided by a headless CMS is the best option for your business needs, then what options should you be looking at?
In this Head-to-Head, we compare apples with apples by looking at Kontent.ai and Contentful, two of the leading players in the headless CMS software market, estimated to be worth $1.6 billion by 2027.
Once again, we’ve picked the considerable brains of our internal experts to determine the key differences – and areas of value – that these two headless content platforms offer. We’ve tapped into their hands-on experience working with both solutions for leading sports federations to provide guidance to help you decide which option will best support the digital experience you want to deliver.
What’s in a name?
The first difference comes in how the two software companies describe their offerings. While they both offer the core decoupled benefits of increased agility, flexibility and scalability, their differing self-descriptions highlight a small but significant difference in how they provide them.
Both position themselves as content platforms, but Kontent.ai refer to their solution as modular instead of Contentful, which makes a big play on positioning their content platform as composable.
Kontent.ai’s modular approach is centred around splitting the content into different pre-defined modules or templates(content types) that can be extended/managed without affecting the other modules.
On the other hand, Contentful defines their offering as composable as their platform works by starting with a clean slate and encouraging users to build up their content by combining lots of small components to create the models they need.
We will address the benefits of their different approaches to structuring content a bit further on, but it is worth acknowledging how both as “content platforms” differ from some other headless solutions on the market – this ability to structure your content, as opposed to having it stored in more unstructured buckets, makes it easier to find, manage and reuse across multiple different channels via APIs.
When comparing CMSs, areas such as functionality, customization, performance, and costs are all important to evaluate, but as Kontent.ai and Contentful are both headless solutions, their costs and the benefits they offer compared to traditional, coupled CMS are similar.
The key points of difference between Kontent.ai and Contentful are more subtle but essential nonetheless and stem from Kontent.ai’s more “traditional” heritage. What began in 2015 as Kentico’s first foray into then the emerging trend of headless CMS, Kontent.ai now operates as its own entity. However, it has maintained a focus on the front end and how the content is presented, offering bolt-on elements such as Web Spotlight, a WYSIWYG editor that allows contextual website management, that are more in keeping with the broader service offering provided by the coupled CMS Kentico first created.
This connection to how the content is presented was a key factor in choosing Kontent.ai for the Virtual Media Centre we built for The R&A, one of golf’s governing bodies and organizers of The Open Championship. They wanted the flexibility of a headless solution but also the ability to simply define how the content is presented, making Kontent.ai the obvious choice.
Contentful, on the other hand, is a native headless solution with no ties to a coupled past. It was designed to offer a composable CMS, focused on content storage rather than presentation, wholly reliant on APIs with a wide range of software solutions to supplement their service offering.
Content modelling – the art of defining the relationship between different types of content and how they are delivered and presented across your different digital platforms – is perhaps the biggest difference between the two CMS.
Kontent.ai offers a top-down content modelling approach that focuses on starting with defining the high-level structure of content types (templates) and then building your components and sub-components. This approach is more structured and quicker to operate in the short term but has a more significant margin for error and can create complications between the content model and presentation as the content tends to be very specific to each client, thus losing some of its reusability.
This approach works best for content-driven solutions with a small number of end-user applications (i.e. only a web app and a mobile app) consuming the content because the content modelling is faster and easy to follow by breaking the specification into simpler and simpler pieces.
Contentful, on the other hand, works bottom-up providing you with a wide range of low-level components you can use to construct content models to your exact requirements. The approach is ideally suited for mobile projects offering greater levels of flexibility and customisation, making it easier to extend and add new components to the model and, therefore, more suitable for constructing complex mobile-first models. It was this capability that led TEC to use Contentful when building a digital concierge application for a leading sports federation. The app provided VIP guests at their signature event with ticket, travel and accommodation details, pulling content from multiple sources into one convenient platform.
Digital Asset Management
Whether they are images, videos or audio files, your digital assets are integral pieces of content that need to be stored, edited and repurposed for usage across different platforms, so how you do this is a vital part of how you manage your content.
Kontent.ai offers a built-in digital asset management tool making it easy for you to access and manipulate the assets you need.
Contentful, on the other hand, doesn’t. Instead, it offers APIs to a wide range of 3rd party tools. However, rather than being a negative, this can offer significant benefits if the client is already using digital asset management tools for other purposes; by integrating them with Contentful, you can avoid duplicating assets across the tools saving time and money. It is, therefore, crucial to assess the full digital ecosystem of an organisation before selecting which content is best suited.
Localization is an increasingly important consideration as organisations look to personalise their content offering for different international markets.
Technically Kontent.ai offers a broader range of language options – more than 200 compared with 50 provided by Contentful. However, only five of these language options are offered “out the box” with Kontent.ai, with a fee to add each additional language, compared to Contentful, which offers the full 50 as part of the package.
Support & Training
Both offer comprehensive support and training services; however, Kontent.ai edges ahead in terms of support by offering a phone support service which Contentful does not. At the same time, Contentful’s training package is more comprehensive as it includes video training materials, while Kontent.ai does not.
These are small differences, but it is essential to understand client preferences in the context of both, as the inability to pick up the phone or refer to a training video may swing your selection decision one way or the other.
Cost & Packages
Their comparable pricing and package offerings mean mid-large-sized businesses widely use both. Kontent.ai is used by globally renowned organisations like Zurich Insurance, Algolia, and Oxford University, while Contentful claims to power digital experiences for 31% of the Fortune 500 and thousands of leading global brands.
Both provide a free entry-level service, with Contentful offering theirs for up to five users compared with Kontent.ai’s two. Contentful also offers a standard “Basic” package costing $300 per month, whereas the Basic equivalent for Kontent.ai is called “Scale”, but as with all of Kontent.ai’s pricing, it is bespoke based on the number of content items and if there is a need to add any add-ons (i.e. Web Spotlight).
Overall, Contentful’s pricing models and their more comprehensive free offering make it a better option for smaller businesses.
In many ways, you can’t go wrong with either of these headless content platforms. They both offer the recognized benefits of increased agility, flexibility, and scalability compared to the coupled, monolithic solutions provided by the likes of Sitecore and WordPress.
Kontent.ai’s links to its more traditional roots create a focus on content presentation, making it a great option for businesses that want the benefits of a headless solution but also the safety net of having an additional proprietary presentation, digital asset management, and analytics tools bolted on.
Contentful is a child of the headless age and delivers greater flexibility through a wider range of API integrations that will be appealing to digitally native businesses in need of complex content models, particularly for mobile applications.
Differences in support and training offerings are marginal but essential to consider depending on client preferences. Kontent.ai provides greater scope for localization, but Contentful is a more cost-effective way of doing so, and its pricing models make it a more viable option for smaller businesses.
|Modular focus on content presentation
|Composable focus on content storage
|Top-down content modeling is more structured and quicker to use in the short term
|Bottom-up content modeling offers greater flexibility and allows for complex customization
|Best suited to websites
|Best suited to mobile applications
|Built-in Digital Asset management tool
|No built-in Digital asset management tool but APIs to a wide selection of 3rd party options
|More localization options but only five are free
|Fewer localization options but more included “out the box”
|Includes phone support but not training videos
|Includes training videos but no phone support
|Two users in the free package – custom pricing
|Five users in free package – basic package available making it more suited to small businesses
TEC has skilled and experienced engineers who can work with you to supplement your development team, providing essential resources at attractive nearshore rates, whichever CMS you decide is best suited to your client’s needs.
Whatever your digital challenge, we’d be happy to discuss how we can help.