Back in 2016, Jens Urbaniak and Christopher von Wedemeyer got together in Berlin and founded DrSmile, a dental practice chain that innovates in 3D printing.
It claims to be on a mission of democratization when it comes to the dental market. Yet in order to fully get across its message and deliver consistent and high quality digital services, its website was anchoring its ambitions to the ground.
So DrSmile decided to revamp their complex website along with its architecture in order to provide its creative team with better tools and a more user-friendly interface to scale content publication.
DrSmile’s focus is on providing high expertise through a high-tech approach. So their website had to match this focus.
When the company first emerged, it emerged with a custom-built site that was constructed with Unbounce and Webflow. At the time it was ideal to meet their needs early on, yet as traffic was steadily becoming heavier, DrSmile began to struggle to deal with slow site speed and equally frustrating editorial experiences.
The digital team had a number of requirements it wanted to accomplish in their next iteration of their website – in order to keep pace with its growth and expansion into new markets.
The first of these requirements was to get their site’s performance in check and under control. Slow loads were simply unacceptable.
Secondly, their new content management system had to handle specific language requirements to cater towards all their markets.
And thirdly, it had to be easy to use by DrSmile’s marketing team to not only create and publish content but to carry out A/B testing of landing pages.
DrSmile took the decision to migrate its content to Contentful, the headless and agile content management system. And with this new and shiny stack, their team was able to navigate through the design process that comes with the launch of new tech.
Also through the Optimizely app inside of Contentful, they are able to carry out A/B testing of their new look site before launching.
Its biggest win with Contentful was in terms of its editorial process, which DrSmile was able to streamline.
At first, the DrSmile team implemented data models for just one of its locations. Then, over the next few months, they implemented another and then another. With Contentful, they were able to easily localize its content from across its international reach.
“When all your content management system experience has been WordPress, it takes time to wrap your head around headless CMS as Contentful,” said Alberto Adame, the senior product manager of web marketing at DrSmile. “But once you do it, a whole new landscape of possibilities appears.”
Contentful accommodates the translation at each level of the data model, which gives the team complete control over which fields should be translated for specific locations.
Into the specifics
When DrSmile began adding languages to its website, they soon realized that not every field needs to be translated. This was because the only change in language was of dialect – such as the German spoken in Germany and the German spoken in Austria.
They also realized that when the translation fields remained unfilled, the company was not able to build out the website because Graphql (the open-source query language) couldn’t construct a data model for non-existent content types.
What came to the rescue was the fallback locale feature. For example, in Germany it is “de-DE” while in Austria it is “de-AT.” There are only a handful of fields that need to have different content, so DrSmile used de-De as the fallback for the de-AT page.
This means that if the translation for de-AT is not done manually, the content field will be taken from de-DE. After a number of iterations of adding new languages, they found out that this approach wasn’t quite good enough.
So they started to setting up other languages without the fallback – to prevent German appearing in non-German languages.
The biggest advantage when it comes to translations within the Contentful platform is that they don’t need to be stored inside the repository. Neither do the creative team need to exhaustively duplicate content among its languages.
With Contentful, DrSmile’s editors can manage a complex linguistic environment to cater for all of their local markets and take full control over local digital experiences. Their brand new site now has speed, which isn’t sacrificed for the functionality.