Strictly speaking a content management system is any website with content that has some system to manage that content. For example, some websites may be created by a programmer who types articles in HTML and adds posts manually. This is a system to manage content. It is just not a very sophisticated one though.
Anyone who remembers web design from the 1990s may recall some of the frustrations of manual updates. A webmaster who wants to keep the content but change the look of a site would need to update each and every page. This could get cumbersome. Furthermore, to create links after adding a page meant manually updating other pages. Adding a comment feature to pages was not straightforward. Two people working on the site at the same time might create confusion.
This is not the way most websites operate today.
Now we can even enhance the amazing commenting systems with plugins like the Commentluv Premium WordPress plugin.
Many websites on the Internet today are powered using a content management system (CMS). A Content Management System is essentially software designed to manage work flow. While a CMS does not have to involve the Internet, this article will focus on using CMS to improve websites.
Most likely you have visited a website that uses a CMS. One of the most popular websites on the Internet is Wikipedia, which is powered by software called Mediawiki that allows thousands of users to edit webpages and tracks each change made. Mediawiki is a type of CMS. The most popular Content Management System for small business owners is WordPress. This website is using WordPress as a content management system. This software was designed originally for blogging but has evolved to be a powerful system suited to just about any type of website. Building websites using WordPress has made the process of starting an online business easy. Also if you have edited a wikipedia page or added a comment to someone’s blog, you have probably already used a Content Management System.
Do You Need a Content Management System?
A CMS becomes especially important for websites with a lot of content or content that is constantly changing. For example, if you want to make daily or weekly updates to your blog, you will definitely appreciate the convenience of a CMS.
Another situation to consider using a CMS is when more than one person will be submitting content. A CMS allows people to work on different pages at the same time. The system can automatically track who does what, store content securely and update the site. A Content Management System is also handy for situation where visitors are contributing content via comments. A CMS might be set up so that others can create an account on your site and make posts right away.
A CMS is especially useful if you don’t want your contributors to get bogged down in technical details when they make posts. Confused about the difference between a <p> and a <br>? Need to look up the code for adding an image? Can’t remember the name of the style your friend set up? A CMS will often have an interface that allows users to format their own text using a text editor similar to Microsoft Word, instead of having to learn HTML. A CMS can also automate creating links on other pages to a new article.
Because a CMS allows the content to be managed separately from the style of the website, it is easier to update the look of a website using a CMS. For example, the WordPress software is designed so you can easily keep your existing articles but change the fonts and other stylistic elements. WordPress has many themes that look very professional that can be downloaded for free or a small charge.
If your site is fairly basic, you may argue that you don’t need a Content Management System. However, if your website expands you may find it useful to have in the future. It is easier to use a CMS from the start, rather than convert an existing website to CMS.
Disadvantages to a Content Management System
There are few disadvantages to using a CMS. Some aspects of the set up may seem complicated; however, there are plenty of discussion groups and tutorials online to assist you. Also, given the popularity of CMS such as WordPress, you should not have difficulties finding a web design professional who can take care of the more technical aspects of setting up your website so you can focus on creating quality content. In practice, unless your website is a static brochure site with around 5 pages, then a CMS such as WordPress will save you a huge amount of time and money in the long run, as well as enabling you to access more advanced functionality more easily.
In summary, a CMS lets you and your team easily update your website content, quickly, easily and securely, without any need for authors to understand or write HTML code. You get all sorts of automation features that can quickly or instantly apply changes and updates across multiple pages on the site. Plus you can access libraries of plugins and tools that allow you to add new features to your website almost at the click of a button, and achieve things that may have otherwise seemed near impossible.
Tom Greenwood is a WordPress expert with the London web design agency Wholegrain Digital, who specialize in helping businesses to enjoy the benefits of the world’s number 1 Content Management System – WordPress.