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What Is A Content Management System

For those new to websites the concept of the content management system is something that may be unfamiliar to you. We are often surprised by the number of potential clients that ask the question “what is a content management system?”

However, if you have never previously had a website for your business or rely on a service provider that does all the site editing for you then why would you have heard of the content management system, or “CMS” as it is abbreviated to.

A CMS is a software programme that enables a website owner to publish and edit content on their website through a single interface. Usually the software is web based which means that you can edit your website from any where in the world where you can get online.

Some CMS systems also have offline versions that sit on your computer that enable you to edit or add content to your website and then upload that content at a later date when you get online.

A screen shot from the CMS I used to create and publish this blog post:

Wordpress CMS Screenshot


Content management systems flourished during the late 90s as web publishing became common place for businesses. A website owner that did not have a CMS was totally reliant on their website developer to make any changes to the website. This could be expensive and prevented a website owner from being able to change the website at short notice.

There are a huge range of content management systems available. Most are what are called “open source” CMS systems. Open source means that the code behind the CMS and the CMS are developed by the coding community at large and do not belong to any specific individual or company. The advantage with an open source CMS is that you will not be tied to a single or small range of developers should you need to change or enhance the CMS.

The alternative is to go for a “proprietary CMS”. This is a CMS that has been developed by a web developer or development company and is then used for websites that they create for their clients.

The disadvantage with proprietary CMS systems is that you are tied to the developer of that CMS. If you choose to go and work with a new development company you are very likely to find them telling you that to change the CMS you will have to have the whole website rebuilt. An expensive prospect.

So be wary of developers that tell you how great “their CMS” system is. It may be great but the reality is that with millions of developers world wide contributing to the development of open source cmd systems it is rare indeed that a proprietary CMS is better. The only thing that it is likely to do better is tie you to the CMS developer for a long time!

What Are The Top Content Management Systems?


Now that you have an understanding of the meaning of the term “CMS” you are probably asking yourself the question “what are the best content management systems? Well, as I have said the best systems will inevitably be an open source system.

Oh, and something that I did not mention above is that open source content management systems are always free! The only thing that you may have to pay for is a plugin should you wish to add one. Plugins are small software systems that literally plug into the CMS and give it immediate additional functionally.

Plugins are usually created by individual developers or companies that create plugins to easily enhance the functionality of an open source CMS. For example if you wanted to add a booking system to your CMS you could have a developer custom code that part of the CMS.

You could expect to pay at least £500 for the work involved. Alternatively with an open source CMS you could buy a pre made plugin that creates the required functionality and may cost just £50.

So by now you should, hopefully, understand what a CMS is. All the websites that our team create incorporate an open source CMS. Our preferred CMS is WordPress. It is very versatile and is the biggest and most widely supported of all the open source CMS systems available. There are other popular CMS systems. Joomla and Drupal content management systems are also very popular. If you are looking to run an commerce website then Magento is a very popular CMS.

Whilst we love WordPress there are lots of great open source CMS systems available and a detailed review of them would be a topic for writing about on its own so I will leave that for a subsequent blog post.

If you own a website that does not have a CMS and you are looking to add that functionality then get in touch as we would be very happy to talk you through the options.

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