What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

Written by Tyler Groskreutz on May 17, 2016

Overview

Simply put a content management system (CMS) is a piece of software that also the owner of website to make basic to moderate changes to the website without understanding the typical markup/code associated with building a website. This allows business owners, marketing managers, writers, etc. to add content without getting a webmaster involved in the process. In the long run, having a CMS on your website will save your business money by not involving more people than necessary to make content changes or adding blog posts.

Types and Uses of Content Management Systems

In the past, CMS’s like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal were primary used for blogging. However, in the ever changing worldwide web of today, CMS’s are being adapted to have much more functionality than in the past. For example, businesses now use CMS’s to create eCommerce platforms, job listings, job applications, portfolio items, lists of services, and so much more.

Like their uses, CMS’s can come in a variety of forms. WordPress is currently the most common CMS, and what we use here at Hedgehog Advertising. It is pretty simple to use, and is flexible enough to meet our needs rather than us having to bend to meet the constraints of the CMS. Although we don’t use them, Joomla and Drupal are very popular choices among the world of CMS’s. From what I can tell, they are pretty much the same as WordPress in the sense that share pretty much the same functionality, but the user interface (UI) varies from platform to platform. WordPress also has a greater network of plugins, which add functionality to your website. Plugins assist a CMS by adding functionality like analytical tools, SEO recommendations, or social media sharing buttons that operate independent of the design your website, which in WordPress is called a “theme.”

Customization

All of the previously mentioned CMS’s can be customized to meet the needs of your business. However, let’s say that you have a project that needs more than what you get out of the box from one of the major CMS’s. Completely custom CMS’s can’t built independent of the major CMS’s but there are obviously advantages and disadvantages to doing it this way. An advantage is that your custom CMS will likely be more secure, depending on the developer of course, because every WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla website operates with the same structure behind the scenes. If a hacker were to find a way into one Drupal website, they could theoretically access all Drupal website. Security issues with a non-eCommerce website aren’t typically something to lose sleep over. Unless you have ruthless, tech-savy competition they likely don’t care about sabotaging your website.

Another advantage to creating a custom CMS is that the UI that operates behind the scenes will meet your exact needs. That being said, there are several disadvantages to having a custom built CMS. The largest obstacle in my mind is the cost. When you build a CMS from scratch, you are essentially paying a developer to build a piece of software that would otherwise have been tested, retested, and nearly perfected by a community of people when you use a major CMS. Additionally that aforementioned community is important. They do important work for a CMS which would include creating standards, building plugins, or developing new features.

Summary

At the end of the day, if your website does not have a CMS built into it, I strongly advice adding one. Deciding which one to use comes down to personal preference. If you’re used to using WordPress, like I am, I recommend continuing to use WordPress if possible. Finding a company pre-built CMS websites is as easy as searching your favorite search engine or contacting us to help you with the process.

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