A Content Management System (CMS) is a tool that allows parts of a website to be edited by its owner without the need for extensive design or web development skills.
Content Management Systems have been around for many years now, and the most popular off-the-shelf systems are just getting better and better, offering more and more features as time goes on.
By giving you more control over the content of your site, a CMS allows you to customize and configure your site without the need for expensive design or web development work once the site is built in the first place. Here’s how a CMS can benefit your business:
What can you do with a CMS?
At its simplest, a CMS is a combination blog and wiki that allows you to create a feed of time-based posts, and also a set of static pages. At its simplest, a CMS allows small businesses to keep all of their information up to date, advertise special offers, and appear in search engine results.
As an owner of the site you get access to your own log-in page and dashboard that allows you to customize what content visitors of your site will see; what pictures and images are on the front page, what news stories appear and so on.
Going beyond a blog
A CMS can also be used to construct e-commerce sites, multi-user blogs and even product review sites. Since the big CMSs have been around a while, they offer integration with a wide range of web tools including things like Google Analytics for website stats, Paypal for taking payments and Google Maps for showing locations and routes.
All of that means that when you ask for a complex site to meet your requirements, a CMS-based system is more likely to meet more of your needs with the addition of only configuration, plugins and theming than bespoke web development from scratch.
The Big Three
The big three free-to-use off-the-shelf CMS platforms are:
- WordPress, ideal for blogs and news sites that are frequently updated, and for simple “brochureware” sites since it has a range of free themes available
- Drupal, which is extremely powerful and great for complex sites with lots of different content types like shops
- Joomla, which sits somewhere in between the two in terms of complexity
A site that grows with your business
As your business grows and develops, as will your needs for your website. Using an off-the-shelf CMS solution means that even if you didn’t need a web-shop to start with, one can be added with minimum fuss and minimum web development time later.
If your business changes its brand or style then a CMS allows you to have your site rapidly re-themed without having to worry about losing content in the transition.
More prevalent and more useful than you realise
All businesses can take advantage of the wealth of out-of-the-box and plugin features available using modern Content Management Systems, both when they commission their site in the first place and when adding new features later. Sites from the BBC to Amazon to Google use a CMS and you can get many of the same features without the million-dollar price tag.