We’ve recently upgraded to Storyblok at Skyward (spoiler alert… it’s great!).
In this post I talk about why we made that decision, as a company that needs both stable software and who likes to be on the cutting edge, and how that decision impacted our team of technical and less-technical users.
TL;DR; Storyblok provides a great balance of a simple to use interface, with flexible content controls where you need them, and a well designed developer experience that makes adding new features as easy as changing copy.
Why we like headless at Skyward
I’ve been a fan of headless technologies for a long time. They feel a lot less intimidating, allowing me to eat the elephant one bite at a time as it were, and letting me focus on building the area that I really want to focus on.
As Skyward has grown we’ve realised that as your business grows, that becomes even more important. Isolating your platforms reduces duplicated effort while making products easier to maintain.
Many businesses go headless as they grow, either intentionally or (sometimes) without even realising it.
Why we moved to Storyblok
We use the Skyward website to market to clients, but we also use it to share resources and experiment with new ideas. We’re often pushing the boundaries of cutting edge tech and the platform we choose has to be able to keep up.
A headless solution is essential for us, as that’s the only way we can stay on the cutting edge of web development.
But not every member of our team is a developer. We need whatever solution we use to accommodate everyone, allowing us to find the balance between cutting edge technologies and easy to maintain content.
Storyblok’s visual editor provides everything non-developers need to make content changes easily and as we continue to grow, more people who aren’t developers need to make changes to our website, without limiting our developers on what frontend solutions (and experiments) they want to use.
We’ve worked with other headless CMS before (and still do) but Storyblok walks that fine line where it’s perfect for developers and everyone else.
So what made Storyblok our go-to choice?
Better editor experience
I’ve already mentioned the benefits that the visual editor brings to our team. Enabling editors to work in an environment that isn’t overwhelming (like many other headless CMS) or code based (like git & markdown) is essential for making sure our site remains editable in the long term without requiring specialist knowledge to make simple content changes.
The visual editor plays a huge part in this which is something usually only found in traditional (aka old fashioned) CMS options.
We also write all of our blog posts in Notion which is markdown under the hood. Being able to copy across an entire blog post and keep all the formatting means publishing a blog post takes only a few minutes for us to release — and small optimisations like that save a huge amount of time in the long run.
Storyblok also offers a lot of features we love to see, with things like:
Visually representing the page hierarchy directly in the editor
Allowing assets to be grouped in folders of our choosing
Publishing Workflows & Comments directly in the editor simplifying our team collaboration
While these all may seem like small things, they make a huge difference by making working within Storyblok simple for everyone.
Excellent developer experience
From the start, when working with Storyblok you can tell they’ve put developers first. Their docs are easy to use, simplifying the concepts within their CMS without leaving out important information.
Side note: I used to have a lot of trouble setting up Storyblok, which put me off using it for a long while. Since releasing V2, it’s clear they’ve put a lot of care and attention into making sure the developer experience is outstanding and that pain points are resolved. I really appreciate when a team listen to, and solve, the problems they’ve had in the past as it shows you how much they care.
Storyblok also doesn’t prevent you from being locked into a single frontend framework. You can pick whichever framework you prefer, which allows you to tailor your projects based on their needs. By giving you the freedom to work with your preferred tools, you can build whatever you’d like however you’d like. This means that we’ve been able to upgrade to Next 13 as soon as it released to get a head start learning how it worked.
And by giving you the freedom to build how you want, in turn your development team can hand craft the experience for your editors. This means that you can freely give them control to make changes without fear that they’ll break your design. And that, in turn, means you can spend more time building new things and less time fixing and supporting changes made by others.
The icing on the cake is Storyblok’s community support which is great for if you get stuck and need help, something which many other headless CMS options ignore. So, it’s something I’m so glad to see included here. It’s always good to know you can get support if you get stuck, either from the team or from other community members.
Inclusive options, Unlimited growth
Storyblok provide plans suitable for everyone, from solo developers to teams, and the best part is that you can get started for free.
Being able to try out project ideas and test them out with Storyblok’s community (free) plan before going live allows us to experiment more freely without worrying about extensive charges. By taking advantage of these features, you can unlock limitless creativity.
You can upgrade (or downgrade) as you need, taking away the risk of kicking off any new project.
If you’re an agency or freelancer, you can sign up for the Storyblok Partner Program which gives you a lot of additional options to help you make the most of Storyblok. You’ll get a special space dedicated to managing client projects, where you can add and manage your team (instead of on a project-by-project basis), build as many pre-launch project as you like, and build up a shared component library that you can use across projects, all with support from their partner team.
The Storyblok Partner Program also allows you to take advantage of Storyblok’s revenue sharing scheme, giving you 10% of the revenue earned from every client you bring to the platform. That alone is a huge reason to consider using Storyblok as any successful projects continue to reward you long term.
Skyward's move to Storyblok is a testament to the value it brings to our workflow. As a Headless CMS, it provides all the benefits you’d expect, allowing us to combine any frontend technology with it, giving us the opportunity to continue remaining on the cutting edge.
It’s not the only option, and there’s a variety of headless CMS that we think work really well for different types of users and in different situations. We’re big fans of Sanity and Prismic too.
But for our own website, Storyblok's visual editor and excellent developer experience made it the perfect choice, allowing us to simplify content editing for our non-developer team members while still creating a compelling frontend experience and allowing us to keep code on the cutting edge.
There are a lot of high quality options on the market in the CMS space, but Storyblok's cutting edge features and continued dedication to providing a great experience for both editors and developers make it an obvious choice.