Strapi vs. Contentful - Which Headless CMS is Best?

Posted by Maab Saleem on October 12, 2023

A content management system (CMS) is the gateway for your enterprise to create, manage, and share content across different channels. While traditional CMSs have dominated the space for years, their inability to adapt to the rapidly changing content consumption landscape has rendered them inefficient

A headless CMS takes a different approach to the production and distribution of content, streamlining workflows for developers, editors, and marketers by decoupling the presentation layer from the logic layer.

Strapi and Contentful are among the most widely used headless CMSs, offering features that may cater to your enterprise's content needs. But when looking for a headless CMS, it’s vital to consider factors such as ease of use, speed of core features, proprietary features, customizability, and pricing.  

The whole idea of a headless CMS is to make it easy for enterprises to manage content by separating the back-end, where raw content exists, from the front-end. That said, having an intuitive user interface can further bolster the ease of use, particularly for non-developers. That’s impossible to achieve without an intuitive user interface. Similarly, it’s crucial for the CMS you choose to support the programming language or framework you’re familiar with. 

As most core features offered by headless CMSs are identical, the deciding factor is often the performance of those features. Does the CMS respond quickly? Are migrations fast and seamless? What is the API response time? 

Besides the core features, pay attention to secondary features and capabilities that set the CMS apart. Look for non-core features relevant to your operations and technical expertise. 

In an age where users consume content through various media, customizability is the name of the game. The headless CMS you choose should facilitate customization, so your content can adapt to the channels your audience prefers while maintaining a uniform brand identity. Lastly, the pricing structure of the CMS should be within your budget. 

Now that you understand the criteria for choosing a headless CMS, it's important for us to mention that while both Strapi and Contentful are decent options, ButterCMS is a strong contender as well. 

However, it’s important to note that ButterCMS is a compelling alternative to both Strapi and Contentful. With an expansive array of features, ButterCMS effectively caters to the diverse requirements of developers and marketers alike. In fact, with highly favorable customer reviews on trusted platforms like G2, ButterCMS is the preferred choice for many.  Therefore, we’ll also discuss what ButterCMS can offer that either Strapi or Contentful may not. 

Contentful, explained

Contentful unifies content with the help of APIs, offering customizability for distinct digital channels. As a decoupled solution for managing content, it allows users to use their chosen programming language and framework to serve the same content anywhere, in any style. 

It’s a composable content platform that leverages a centralized hub for content publication and distribution, enabling users to create custom content models tailored to their business needs. It offers limited third-party orchestration but enables collaboration between different team members. 

Contentful supports various media types, including PDFs, images, audio, and video. It offers GraphQL and REST APIs to manage and deliver content across any platform. 

Furthermore, developers and content managers can enhance the functionalities of the Contentful CMS with native applications and plugins. For example, they can integrate their e-commerce products with their CMS. 

Core features of Contentful

Here’s an overview of the main features of Contentful:

  • Contentful Studio: An intuitive workspace for editorial teams inside the Contentful platform that enables team coordination for creating, editing, and publishing content. It also offers features like workflow automation, live previews, infield comments, and AI-powered content generation. 

  • App Framework: Contentful offers an app framework to build apps that customize and extend the functionalities of the CMS platform. Developers can create single-page front-end apps with iFrame inside Contentful and back-end apps that independently interact with the Contentful Content Management API. In addition, the app framework also enables integration with third-party apps on the Contentful marketplace. 

  • Content Orchestration: Contentful uses spaces and organizations to help large or distributed enterprises manage their content. Spaces are unique workspaces that contain content types and media assets. They can be used to represent different brands, teams, or regions. Organizations are a collection of spaces. They provide a way to group users together and to manage permissions across multiple spaces. Contentful’s content orchestration allows businesses to connect and manage content across different spaces. This means that content can be reused across different brands, teams, or regions. This feature is only available with the Premium plan.

  • Starter Templates: Contentful offers several starter templates for ecommerce stores, marketing websites, and blogs powered by Next.js, an open-source web development framework. These include a ready-to-use content model, source repository, and built-in preview. 

  • APIs: Contentful provides a host of APIs, with each API dedicated to a specific function. These include Content Delivery API, Content Management API, Content Preview API, Images API, GraphQL API, User Management API, and SCIM API. 

  • Custom Applications: The app framework enables developers to create custom apps that perform specific functions not offered within the Contentful platform. From custom editors to product pickers, there are various functionalities you can add to make content management and presentation easier. 

  • Security & Hosting: The Contentful platform is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers on the US East Coast. All content is backed up on two separate data centers in different geographic locations. Contentful also takes several other security measures, including strong password requirements, two-factor authentication, SSL-based encryption, and annual security reviews.

  • Support for Locales & Localization: Contentful offers content localization through locales, essentially language-region pairs. While Contentful has built-in locales, it also allows users to create custom locales for even more granular targeting. Another notable localization feature is asynchronous publishing, allowing users to publish the same content in multiple locales separately. 

  • Omnichannel Content Distribution: As a headless CMS, Contentful enables omnichannel content distribution, a customer-centric approach for unified exposure across different channels. Through APIs, enterprises can distribute and reuse the same content on various digital platforms and to different audiences. 

  • CDN: Contentful leverages Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) like Fastly and Cloudfront for fast content distribution. The Contentful Delivery API delivers content as JSON data, while images, videos, and other media types are distributed as files. 

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Pros of Contentful

Here are the advantages of using Contentful as your CMS:

Flexibility (of both the platform and what you can create using Contentful)

For enterprises engaging with their audience through different platforms, flexibility isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. Contentful ensures flexibility through its APIs, third-party integrations, and custom applications. It doesn’t follow a one-size-fits-all approach like traditional CMSs that limit the customization of how content is managed and presented to the audience. 

Mature & fully featured with an extensive marketplace and ecosystem

Contentful has a diverse ecosystem of tools and developer support. Its extensive collection of third-party apps, along with the option to create your own, empowers users to personalize their content management experience. Similarly, the Contentful developer community can help troubleshoot issues without needing to initiate tickets. 

Channel-agnostic system

Contentful is channel and device-agnostic. In other words, it’s not biased toward a single channel or device. Users can deliver content optimized for various digital channels, including desktop, mobile, and social media. This ensures that the brand experience is cohesive regardless of the platform consumers interact with. 

Cons of Contentful

Even though Contentful is a reliable CMS, there are certain drawbacks. Here are some of its cons:

Steep learning curve

Contentful may not be the most feasible choice for non-tech-savvy users as it has a considerable learning curve. You may need time and resources to train users on using the platform. There are various proprietary concepts and features of the platform (such as content 

models and spaces and organizations) that require proper onboarding to be effectively leveraged. 

UI configuration can quickly become complex

While Contentful provides ample tools for UI configuration, using and managing these tools to tailor the content and meet specific requirements can add to the complexity. For instance, UI extensions, which are small sandboxed HTML5 applications, can be complicated to manage and use. 

No out-of-the-box blog engine

Unfortunately, Contentful lacks a built-in blog engine. You will need to install a third-party blog engine or create one yourself. This can add complexity and additional development effort to your project, as you'll need to ensure the seamless integration and compatibility of the chosen blog engine with Contentful's architecture.

Pricing quickly escalates

As your content scales up, the cost of using Contentful can increase dramatically. Therefore, it’s not an economical choice for enterprises producing large amounts of content daily. For example, if you have a small website with a few hundred content items, you might be able to get away with using the free plan. However, if you have a large website with thousands (or even millions) of content items, you will likely need to opt for a paid plan.

Contentful Pricing

Contentful offers three plans, including a free one. Here are the three plans with prices and features compared:



Users and usage



Community-based support, Tasks app, Compose app, developer Slack community, client libraries, content delivery API, image API, sync API, encryption at rest, 24/7 monitoring, and more.

5 users, 4 standard roles, 2 locales, 1,000,000 API calls per month, 0.1 TB/month bandwidth.



All free features, along with technical support, Launch app, and support for commenting on fields.

20 users, 4 standard roles, 4 locales, 2,000,000 API calls per month, 0.75 TB/month bandwidth.

$300 per month


All Basic features, along with compliance, security, and governance features, customizable roles, reference view, custom aliases, Single sign-on (SSO), user management API, SCIM provisioning, security reporting, dedicated infrastructure, and more.

Thousands of users, no API call limits, and custom bandwidth usage limits with overage.


Strapi, Explained

Strapi is an open-source headless CMS based on JavaScript. It offers complete back-end and front-end control, as it can be self-hosted. You can also host it on a third-party public cloud or choose a paid plan to have Strapi host on their cloud platform. 

As it’s open-source, it’s more developer-centric, allowing developers to customize the CMS completely. It enables content management teams to use a singular hub to distribute content across different channels. 

The platform offers a user-friendly interface that can be accessed based on roles. Typically, there are three roles: admin, editor, and author. Admins have full control over the platform, while editors can create and edit content, and authors can only create content.

Core Features of Strapi

Here’s a list of Strapi’s main features:

  • Open-sourced: Strapi is an open-source platform built using JavaScript, a widely used programming language. Naturally, it’s highly customizable, allowing developers to optimize the CMS for specific content needs and management processes. 

  • Customizable API: Strapi’s open-source APIs provide developers with the flexibility and extensibility they need to build modern applications. They can tailor API endpoints to match business requirements, integrate seamlessly with frontend frameworks and other platforms, and extend functionalities by modifying the source code.

  • Internationalization: Strapi offers an internationalization plugin (i18n) that allows users to create different versions of content for different locales/languages. This feature translates the content according to the locale, and dynamically personalizes the structure and messaging to suit different audiences. 

  • Custom Fields: Users can create custom fields for content types to add new capabilities. Content types are the building blocks that define the structure of content, for example, an explainer blog post. Custom fields can be added by creating a plugin for each field or modifying the existing source file(s). Strapi recommends using the former method as it’s cleaner and more maintainable. 

  • Media Library: The Media Library plugin allows you to store all of your media assets in a central location. This includes images, videos, and audio files. The media library supports a wide range of file formats, including PNG, JPEG, GIF, MP4, and WAV. The media library can also be integrated with storage services like Google Cloud, Amazon S3, and Cloudinary.

  • Multi-database Support: Strapi supports various databases, including SQLite, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and MariaDB. 

  • Content-Type Builder: The Content-Type Builder is a Strapi plugin that creates content types, which define the structure of content with built-in or custom fields. It offers two distinct types: collection types and single types. Collection types are designed for managing lists of similar content types, like blog posts. Single types are for creating unique, one-off pages, such as a landing page. 

  • Autogenerated Documentation: Strapi offers a plugin that automatically generates documentation for available endpoints whenever an API is created. Furthermore, developers can visualize the endpoints with the Swagger UI (open-source API developer toolset). 

  • Built-in Sort and Filtering: Strapi offers built-in sort and filtering features for both REST and GraphQL APIs. These features eliminate the need for developers to implement complex sorting and filtering mechanisms manually.

  • Built-in emailing: Strapi’s built-in email plugin allows applications to send emails from a server or through an external provider. While Sendmail is the default email provider, Strapi allows users to change providers. 

  • Custom Roles and Permissions: Strapi uses the Role Based Access Control (RBAC) model, which helps manage permissions for different user roles. By default, the platform offers three user roles, including a super admin with permission to access all features. However, it’s also possible to define custom permissions for any user, giving admins granular control over user access. 

  • Security and Compliance: If you self-host Strapi on-premise, security is your responsibility. That said, it provides many security-focused features that enable users to protect content and user data from breaches.

On the other hand, if you choose the fully managed solution with the Strapi cloud, you’ll be transferring the responsibility of security to the Strapi team. 

Pros of Strapi

Strapi offers many benefits that may make it a good choice for a headless CMS:


Strapi also features an SEO plugin that can help content rank higher on SERPs. With this plugin, users can analyze content optimization for SERPs, and manage social tags, page titles, and meta descriptions. 

Documentation and community support

Strapi documentation is quite thorough. Users can find detailed guides on the official website and GitHub. 

Since it’s an open-source project, it’s driven by community support and collaboration. Other Strapi users can answer questions and provide free assistance to resolve issues you may come across. 

Tailored user experience

Strapi enables businesses to leverage their content to create tailored experiences for users based on where they’re located and how they’re consuming content. 


Strapi is based on JavaScript, a programming language consistently ranked among the most in-demand languages. It provides many tools that enable developers to enhance the capabilities of the CMS, with lots of room for experimentation. 

Developers can easily extend or customize the API to meet their specific needs. For example, they can create custom endpoints or modify the behavior of existing ones. Moreover, Strapi can integrate with popular frameworks and databases. Whether you use React, Vue.js, MongoDB, or PostgreSQL, Strapi has plugins and extensions to make integration easy.

Cons of Strapi

Strapi has some disadvantages that must be addressed, should you choose to go with it. 

Not completely free

Even though, as an open-source CMS, it’s supposedly free, there are other often significant costs you have to factor in. For example, if you go for the self-hosted plan, you must pay for the hosting, security, and maintenance, which can be expensive.

Additionally, there are some features that are not available in the open-source plan, such as Single Sign-on (SSO), audit logs, and workflow review.

No free cloud hosting option

There’s no free tier in the managed cloud hosting options. If you want Strapi to host, only two paid plan options exist. 

Frequent updates and documentation gaps

Normally, updates are good as they indicate that the product is consistently improving and problems are being addressed promptly. However, frequent updates can be difficult to manage if you handle a lot of content. More importantly, documentation may be unable to catch up with the frequent changes, creating gaps that may result in errors or misconfigurations. 

Migration can be difficult

Strapi has some limitations when migrating data from another environment. One limitation is that Strapi does not provide a built-in migration tool. This means that you will need to manually migrate your data, which can be a time-consuming and error-prone process.

Another limitation is that the default access roles in Strapi prohibit users from accessing data. This means that you will need to add permissions to users when you migrate new data manually.

Strapi Pricing

The pricing below is for cloud-hosted plans.



Users and usage



All Community features, like Role-based Access Control and REST & GraphQL APIs, along with built-in email provider, Global CDN, real-time logs, and 100,000 CMS entries. 

10 seats, 1,000,000 API calls, and a bandwidth of 500 GB per month.

$99 per month per project


All Pro features, along with higher storage and bandwidth, audit logs, review workflows, and 1,000,000 CMS entries. 

20 seats, 2,000,000 API calls, and a bandwidth of 1,000 GB per month. 

$499 per month per project

Strapi vs. Contentful Feature Comparison Chart

Here’s a quick comparison of features offered by Strapi and Contentful:





Self-hosted/managed Cloud/third-party cloud


Editor Experience

Multilingual dashboard









Version controlling






UI customization



Developer Experience

Client libraries












Team Management

User roles



Customizable roles


Premium only

Security & Compliance




ISO 27001





Yes (through integration with Stripe)




Audit logs




Yes (automatic)

Yes (manual)





Third-Party Integrations



ButterCMS, an ideal alternative

Contentful and Strapi have their strengths but fall short in certain aspects. For instance, Contentful can be complex to learn and manage, especially for large enterprises. Similarly, Strapi’s frequent updates make it somewhat unstable. A better alternative for both Contentful and Strapi is ButterCMS. 

If you’re looking for a platform that offers the same benefits as Contentful or Strapi but without the drawbacks, ButterCMS is the answer. It is an API-first headless CMS that provides tailored solutions for enterprises of all kinds and sizes. From e-commerce companies to SaaS providers, ButterCMS allows teams to produce content more efficiently and customize it based on audience personas.

How ButterCMS Stands Out

Here’s why ButterCMS beats both Contentful and Strapi as the best headless CMS:

Ease of use

ButterCMS provides a user-friendly experience for both developers and marketers. Its dashboard simplifies content management with customizable and repeatable collections and pages. Even if a user lacks technical expertise, intuitive navigation makes it easy to create content pages with just a few clicks. 

Speed to launch

ButterCMS is designed to help you get your content out there first. In many industries with cut-throat competition, it’s often about who gets to the market first. Whether it’s a topical blog or a promotional page for a new offering, the built-in tools, integrations, and workflows enable teams to publish content faster. 

Tech stack breadth

ButterCMS works with a wide range of technologies, including but not limited to Python, Ruby, PHP, Node.js, React, JavaScript, Android, and iOS. 

Built-in blog engine

Unlike Contentful, ButterCMS does not require creating your own blog engine. The built-in blog engine enables you to seamlessly add a blog to your websites, without any needless effort.

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Seamless migrations

ButterCMS makes migrations from other CMSs quick and effortless. Enterprise accounts can even benefit from assisted migrations. For instance, if you already have a WordPress website, the ButterCMS team can help migrate it for you. 

Similarly, moving content within ButterCMS is just a matter of a few clicks. You can move an entire Collection and launch it instantly in your new production environment. 

Drag and drop component functionality

ButterCMS recognizes that content creators and editors shouldn’t have to learn coding to publish and modify pages independently. So it makes it easier for them to create content pages with a simple drag-and-drop mechanism. 

Built-in version history

ButterCMS makes it easy to review changes to content with the built-in version control feature. Using version control, you can see all of the changes that have been made to a page, and revert to an earlier version if required.

Security and Compliance

ButterCMS upholds stringent security and compliance standards, ensuring impenetrable data security. The platform is hosted on infrastructure provided by AWS and Heroku. The data centers where the content is stored are ISO 27001 certified, a standard recognized globally. 

Furthermore, content is protected by AES-256 encryption both at rest and in transit. Data is backed up daily to ensure redundancy and availability. 

Closed source and fully hosted

Unlike Strapi, ButterCMS is not open-source, so it’s not subject to constant updates. Also, it’s a fully cloud-hosted platform with multiple pricing plans to suit the needs of various organizations. You don’t need to manage your own hosting, unlike the free plans offered by Strapi. 

ButterCMS vs. Strapi vs. Contentful User Comparison Chart

To provide a fair assessment of Strapi, Contentful, and ButterCMS, here’s a comparison of each platform’s G2 ratings based on user feedback. 


Rating (number of responses)





Meets requirements

9.1 (110)

8.5 (202)

8.7 (94)

Ease of use

9.3 (109)

8.4 (204)

9.1 (95)

Ease of setup

9.2 (67)

8.2 (92)

8.8 (72)

Ease of admin

9.2 (68)

8.4 (96)

8.8 (73)

Quality of support

9.7 (108)

8.4 (165)

8.5 (63)

Has the product been a good partner in doing business?

9.7 (67)

8.5 (87)

8.6 (48)

Product direction (% positive)

9.1 (95)

7.4 (190)

8.5 (68)

ButterCMS has the highest ranking of the three platforms, scoring 9.1 or higher in each category. 

Final Thoughts

Contentful and Strapi are both viable options if you’re looking for a headless CMS, but they are not as well-rounded and value-centric as ButterCMS. Strapi’s open-source nature is both a pro and a con, as it’s highly customizable but requires frequent updates. On the other hand, Contentful is fully hosted but can be quite expensive for enterprises with large content repositories. 

ButterCMS is a better alternative to Strapi and Contentful, with its feature-rich platform, developer-friendly tools, and dependable security. 

Do you want your product or marketing team to test Butter CMS? We can set up a live demo to walk your team through the fast, easy-to-use interface.

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Maab Saleem

Maab is an experienced software engineer who specializes in explaining technical topics to a wider audience.

ButterCMS is the #1 rated Headless CMS

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