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Content Management System

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A Content Management System is a software application that allows users to collaborate in the creation, editing, and production of digital content: web pages, blog posts, etc.

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What is a content management system (CMS)?

A content management system (CMS) is an application that is used to manage content, allowing multiple contributors to create, edit and publish. Content in a CMS is typically stored in a database and displayed in a presentation layer based on a set of templates like a website.

The following are common functions of a CMS:

  • Content creation allows users to easily create and format content

  • Content storage stores content in one place, in a consistent fashion

  • Workflows assigns permissions for managing content based on roles such as authors, editors and admins

  • Publishing tells the software when and where the content should go live

  • Optimization helps you improve digital experience and learn from your content

Benefits of a content management system

One major advantage of a CMS is its collaborative nature. Multiple editors can contribute, schedule or manage content to be published. Because the user interface is usually browser-based, a CMS can be accessed from anywhere by any number of users.

The second major advantage of a CMS is that it allows non-technical people who don’t know programming languages to easily create and manage their own content. The drag-and-drop editors of a typical content management platform allows users to enter text and upload images without needing to know any HTML or CSS (programming languages).

When a company uses a CMS to publish its web pages, it reduces its reliance on front-end developers to make changes to the website, making it quicker and easier to publish new web pages improving the digital experience for users and visitors.

When a company uses a CMS to publish content to other channels - like social, mobile apps and eCommerce, it can drastically reduce the amount of development a company needs to do and make it easier to distribute content to different channels simultaneously.

What is the difference between a website and a CMS?

Wikipedia probably describes it best as “a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a common domain name and published on at least one web server.“

In contrast, a CMS or Content Management System, is a piece of software that allows you to store, manage and publish said web pages. Most websites use a content management system, but you could make one without a CMS, writing directly in a programming language like HTML and CSS. More often though, it’s easier to use a CMS to manage content for the editor instead of building a website from code.

A website is a collection of web pages you can browse and a CMS is the software that website runs on a browser.

What are some examples of a CMS?

While there are hundreds of CMS platforms each with their own unique functionality, some of the best and most popular CMS providers are:

Specifically for online stores, although Optimizely Monetize, Adobe Magento and Shopify also manage content similar to a CMS, they are typically not considered a true CMS as much as an eCommerce platform with some added functionality.

What to look for in a CMS

Before choosing a content management system, it is a good idea to start with thinking about how your website and content will be consumed.

You will need to begin by making a list of the goals you are trying to achieve as well as any specific requirements you may have. This will help you choose the right content management system – the one that supports your business requirements – rather than the most popular or well-liked. Common goals for CMS’ are getting more readers on a blog, increasing purchases in a shop or optimizing your content for search engines (SEO).

CMS's come in all shapes and sizes, each with its own set of features and benefits. Some are ideally suited for bloggers; others may be tailored to eCommerce sites with features for pricing and online store functionality. Specifics will vary based on your company’s size, needs and resources.

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