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Pella opens new doors with Contentstack's headless CMS

Pella either had to invest heavily in their current environment and try to improve the performance or make a move to a new platform.

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reduction in development time
faster publishing content
launching a new site
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Before Contentstack, Pella had sites primarily on a monolithic CMS. Pella was frustrated with the inability to customize layouts since changes required an extensive amount of development work.

The challenge

It was a tedious platform from a content perspective. Simple tasks were taking a long time. For example, when Pella had a new product launch, they wanted to set the new product apart from the rest of their other product lines and include unique highlights and callouts for the new product. The predefined templates constrained Pella since changes required four to six weeks of development work. Because of the tightly coupled monolithic front end in their existing CMS solutions, Pella felt like they couldn’t keep pace with evolving technology.

Pella either had to invest heavily in their current environment and try to improve the performance or make a move to a new platform.

We’re now building on this new solid, efficient foundation! The speed Contentstack enables Pella to get things done fast is what we needed. We are trying to deliver a breakthrough digital experience at Pella, and Contentstack is the foundation that allows us to do that.

Brad Postma | Senior IT Engineer, Pella

The solution

The decoupled front end from the content management side was a primary motivation to move to Contentstack’s headless CMS. Pella was confident that Contentstack would improve their performance. Additional reasons that Pella went with Contentstack were the documentation and the responsiveness of the sales and support teams.

When Pella would run into problems, there was help right there at your fingertips," said Tod Hilton, senior web developer. "I ran into an issue on a Saturday afternoon that we couldn’t resolve. So I sent a message in the chat window thinking, they’ll pick it up on Monday. In about two hours, I got a response back, saying they couldn’t resolve the issue at that time, but they were looking into it. The next morning, I got the response back with the answer that I needed. The people at Contentstack were more interested in our success than the other vendors.”

Pella felt like there would be a strong relationship as Contentstack continues to grow along with Pella’s evolution and journey, as well as ensuring that Pella wouldn’t get lost in a sea of thousands of other customers.

Marilyn Wichhart, digital content curator for Pella, said that when testing other systems, “I performed the same steps to do the same things and found that Contentstack was easier to understand and to set up. I remember not enjoying going back to work on our current CMS because it was so much easier to use Contentstack. I kept thinking about how much easier launching the new product line would have been. I was envious of all the things we could have done if we had Contentstack enabled at that time. I think from a content management perspective, Contentstack was everything that the current system wasn’t.”

“I think the documentation helps quite a bit," said Kyle Kramer, front-end web developer. "There’s well-written documentation to walk you through everything. Even starting with test projects on my own, it was easy to pull down the API and work with GraphQL. It was smooth from the beginning, which was surprising. It was awesome!”

Contentstack is the best decision we ever made.

Tod Hilton | Front-End Web Developer

Using their previous CMS, it was cumbersome and time consuming to launch the new product. Pella had to hire an external developer who did nothing but build the pieces needed for the new product pages. After migrating everything into Contentstack, Pella was able to build whole sites in a fraction of the time it took to produce the new product pages.

It wasn’t just swapping out the existing CMS to a headless environment; it was a complete overhaul of Pella’s digital framework. Pella was impressed with the ease of onboarding. It was able to ramp up quickly with Contentstack and get the foundational framework in place and get their web presence moved over, which was a significant accomplishment.

Pella uses raw engineering, a strategic services partner that excels at Contentstack implementations. Wichhart gives credit to the raw engineering team for helping make Pella ADA compliant. “We were challenged about a year ago with getting all of our sites ADA compliant, which using our old platforms would have been a deal-breaker," she said. "Instead, we were able to do not only the main Pella site but several other sites in a shorter amount of time than before. With the help of raw engineering, we were able to move sites that we hadn’t even managed before into Contentstack. Now all of our digital sites are completely compliant. That’s a huge business goal that we didn’t even know was going to be a driver for choosing a new CMS, but Contentstack enabled us to become ADA compliant!”

“Companies can be unsuccessful in implementing excellent products," Postma said. "I think the partnership we’ve been able to build with Contentstack and raw engineering has helped us have the success that we’ve had.”

Pella is also using the Gatsby static site generator with Contentstack. This combination greatly improved site performance. One feature of Contentstack that Pella loves and uses quite a bit is the image API. This API enables changing the size and shape of images on the fly. Pella used to have to create up to four sizes of every image. Now they can use one image and the API feature does all the resizing.

I was at a conference in San Francisco and was talking with different developers and designers. Quite a few of them were running into situations with their CMS and were frustrated about limitations. I said, ‘Let me tell you about Contentstack. It’s the answer to your frustrations with your CMS. Contentstack is the answer to all of it.’

Marilyn Wichart | Digital Content Curator, Pella

The results

  • Publishing 230% faster
  • Launching sites 50% faster
  • Reduced development time by 50%
  • All sites are now ADA compliant


Founded in 1925, Pella Corporation is a privately held window and door manufacturing company headquartered in Pella, Iowa, with manufacturing and sales operations in a number of locations in the United States.


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