What is a CMS – Content Management System?
CMS stands for a content management system and is extremely important considering that the majority of websites (over 68 million) are built with one.
A content management system is a software application that allows users (e.g. web developers) to build websites without programming from scratch. Another specification is that non-developers can use this software to create and manage a website.
CMS provides a user-friendly interface along with a set of tools that allows users to build and modify a website’s digital content without requiring advanced technical skills including creating, publishing, or modifying content on the website.
The instance of the content management system is developed with non-technical users in mind and it successfully separates a pure code and the visible layout of the web page so that users can easily create or manage web content.
How Does a Content Management System Work?
To fully understand how content management systems work you should have some technical knowledge and have an idea of what is like to build a website from scratch.
To build web pages from scratch with custom code to create content, the developer first sets up an HTML language to add text, sections, images, and other building blocks of the website.
Then they add a content management system (CMS) to polish up a website layout by styling all those elements so that they match your brand.
If you wish to change anything in the files, you would have to download these files from the server and make changes by updating the code. Most of the time, developers are the ones that should do this as there are many links or items that can easily brake if you don’t know what you are doing.
Building and maintaining the site from scratch requires time and resources as well as some advanced technical skills. Sounds complicated? Well, here is where the CMS jumps in.
CMS is an extremely user-friendly platform and is created to help non-technical users manage web content delivery application on their own.
The way it works is that you simply open a content editor and perform changes such as adding content (text or images), playing around with section organization, and so on.
For example, if you are looking to add a new blog post (publish content) in WordPress as CMS, you will open your admin area, go to Add New Post, insert content and once you are ready simply push Publish content. Your newly published blog is live!
What Features Does a CMS Offer?
A CMS as user-friendly software offers specific features:
Content Creation, Editing, and Organization: In terms of web content creation and editing, CMS provides a graphical user interface while enabling users to write, format, edit, upload, and organize content using a built-in editor (e.g. Microsoft Word).
The CMS is also very successful in providing tools such as categories, tags, or metadata all of which help navigate the site with ease. Setting up these can benefit website navigation and structure.
Themes and Customization: CMS platforms such as WordPress for example offer a range of pre-designed templates and themes. Users can select and customize these themes based on their branding preferences.
Each for example WordPress theme is different and can be simple or more advanced including various features, interactive modes, and more.
Whether free themes or premium themes, all of these are often highly customizable and users can easily adjust colors, typography, and other elements to fit their website’s unique design. You don’t need to add custom code or use any third-party integrations especially not with the WordPress website.
Available Plugins: The advantage of CMS platforms is that plugins are available to apply on the site. For example, WordPress offers over 58 thousand free plugins which give users the opportunity to have some extra functionality to the website system.
Plugins can be helpful for SEO optimization, payment processing, and much more. Keep in mind, less is more when it comes to plugins so make sure your website holds less than 20 at a given moment. In terms of content management application, WordPress official wordpress directory is great with open-source software and new features.
User Management: CMS allows users to set up and define different roles and permissions for different individuals. This feature is particularly useful for websites with multiple users or web content contributors or administrators.
Another feature worth mentioning is the ability to schedule and manage content for publication at a specific time which helps ensure that content like blogs or news is published according to a schedule.
SEO Features: CMS platforms often offer specific features that can help you optimize your website for major search engines such as Google. These features allow users to set up page titles, meta descriptions, alt-image tags, relevant URLs, and more.
Given the SEO complexity, it’s always best to have a proper search engine optimization strategy prior to starting to play with it on the website builder and best CMS platform.
Accessibility: The CMS platform offers you the opportunity to access and manage your website’s backend from any device while connected to the internet.
This is much easier than with websites built from scratch which requires being connected to the web server on a particular device to be able to manage content or the site. Users don’t need a custom domain solution or a self-hosted version.
The Most Popular Content Management System Platforms
There are several most popular CMS options available and here are some of the most commonly used CMS platforms along with their advantages and weaknesses:
WordPress is by far the most popular and widely used content management system and is well-known as an open-source CMS. The advantage of this platform is that it offers a significant number of WordPress themes, templates, and plugins. It also allows users easy access to customized themes based on their preferences and branding specifications.
It’s user-friendly, and flexible, and allows users with limited technical knowledge to easily add or manage a website’s content. The WordPress site offers a robust content management system or content editor in the admin panel that is perfect for newbies in the field who have no previous experience with content management systems.
Additionally, it has a large support network so you’ll have a piece of mind if unsure where to start or how to maintain your WordPress site.
Drupal is another popular and powerful content management system used to make websites and applications and is suitable for more complex websites.
What’s specific about this content management system is modules (you can choose between 47 thousand modules) that expand Drupal’s functionality and provide high flexibility.
Its unique tool and component-based system allow users to build versatile and highly structured content. Compared with WordPress or Joomla, Drupal requires more technical proficiency.
Joomla is yet another popular content management system known for its flexibility and extensibility. It offers a wide range of new features and has a user-friendly interface. Joomla is suitable for various types of websites, including e-commerce, social networks, and community-based sites.
Joomla’s latest version is highly flexible and ideal for community, membership, or local social network sites due to its multilingual support aspect.
Magento is a robust CMS specifically designed for e-commerce websites. Due to its complexity, we can compare it with Drupal.
With its extensive ecommerce functionality, including inventory management, payment integration, different languages, international shipping options, and product catalogs, Magento is a great choice for medium to large-scale online stores.
Shopify is a popular CMS used for ecommerce stores websites. Merchants can easily set up and maintain their online stores. Shopify is completely cloud-based and hosted which allows users to access it from any connected compatible device. The advantage of Shopify is that merchants can run their online store from anywhere as long as there is an internet connection.
Shopify offers a wide range of templates and integrates with various payment gateways. The downside of Shopify is that you are not the owner of your website as it’s hosted on their end and there is a monthly fee until you decide you no longer wish to go their route.
Similar to Shopify, Wix is a user-friendly and beginner-friendly CMS recognized by its drag-and-drop functionality. It does not specifically offer e-commerce or more features and it can be limited when it comes to plugins or add-ons.
A nice feature is that Wix offers a drag-and-drop website building option which helps less knowledgeable users build and maintain the site by focusing on a graphical user interface.
How WordPress Works
Is WordPress Content Management System Suitable for My Website?
Based on what we’ve learned so far in this article and given we have been working with WordPress for years now, let’s take a moment to highlight some more specifics related to WordPress and how it works.
WordPress is an extremely user-friendly platform that can be suitable for even a non-technical user given they are provided with some basic training. Even though it’s easy to add and maintain content we always recommend speaking with a professional if unsure you are doing the work properly.
When it comes to plugin updates, updating WordPress versions, clearing the cache, or anything more advanced and technical that needs to be done on the website, make sure you contact your web development company for support.
The beauty of WordPress websites is that once the site is launched and signed off it’s completely under your ownership and there are no monthly fees such as with other providers (Shopify, WiX). Not only it’s not mandatory to web hosting the site with WordPress content management system cms, but also you can take your website files and host your website with any web hosting provider you prefer.
Another advantage of WordPress is its installation. Your website developer can assist with this final step in the WordPress development process, but many web host providers offer a one-click WordPress installation which can give you a piece of mind.
Which Content Management System CMS is Best for Me?
When it comes to choosing the best content management system platform for your website, the first step you need to take is to do your own research. Consult your web development company and learn more about different platforms, their features, functionality, and flexibility.
Overall, choosing the best CMS solely depends on your website’s specific requirements, goals, and technical proficiency.
With over 1000 (and growing) content management systems available, it may be a daunting task to pick one that suits you best. Keep in mind each system offers different features so your choice should reflect the intent of the website you are planning to build.
Since CMS platforms vary in complexity, flexibility, and accessibility, it’s important to have an idea of what your goals are with the future website.
Are you looking to sell products online or your site will be informative only? Are you a small business or a large enterprise? All these factors can help you determine the most suitable CMS. For more insight get in touch with us today!