What is a CMS? Has that thought ever crossed your mind? Let’s clear that out for you!
In its simplest terms, a CMS is a ‘system’ that ‘manages’ content. Some define it as a platform providing a collection of tools used to manage workflows in a collaborative environment.
Still, confused? Let’s dig a little deeper.
What is a CMS?
A content management system is a platform used for website development and mobile app development that offers the ability to create, edit, and publish different types of digital content (text, images, videos etc.)
In simple words, a content management system is a tool that lets you build a website without having to write all the necessary code from the scratch. This means a CMS solution enables everyone to create a website – even someone who does not know to code.
It is a collaborative environment that lets multiple users with admin rights access everything or a limited set of functions in a web solution and modify relevant information. Customized CMS development is thus particularly convenient for eCommerce stores and other large businesses. We can also describe a CMS architecture as consisting of a programming framework, a presentation layer with a set of templates for changing layouts, and a database for data storage.
Content editors and digital marketers interact directly with a presentation layer in a CMS solution – which is a dynamic environment where they can easily manage content-related tasks without the need for special web development knowledge. Hence, they do not have to learn to code in CSS and HTML, analyze code to work with the digital resource, or understand styles and tags. In the CMS development process the interaction through GUI (graphical user interface) is intuitive and thus most operations are automated.
How do CMS solutions work?
Now that we have better clarity on what is a CMS, let us move on to the common functions and the working principles of most CMS solutions.
A content management system consists of two major structural components:
- Content Delivery Application (CDA) – it is the back-end part of CMS development that is responsible for a web solution’s code logic and the transformation of the content into a visual section for the end-users.
- Content Management Application (CMA) – it is the front-end or the user interface for content editors where they can create, update and publish content without touching the code of a CMS solution.
These two components are tightly interconnected. However, non-technical users usually work at the interface level and therefore do not see the backend. And the backend remains a developer’s and webmaster’s liability during CMS development.
Functions of a CMS solution
The main essence of a content management platform is that it allows editors and managers to upload and modify digital content. Generally, a CMS solution is offered as an out-of-the-box solution with these basic functions:
- Data storage
- Content creation and publishing
- Content indexing
- Access control content editing and deleting
- Search and retrieval by different parameters
However, some organizations prefer CMS customization to suit their individual business needs. CMS solutions can be customized with the help of specific personalization plug-ins, tools, and add-ons. Such additions will enhance the capabilities of your platform and significantly improve the list of its functionalities. This way customized CMS development can manage the following functionalities:
- URL logic
- Text format
- Metadata fields
- Publish dates
- Version control
- Marketing campaigns
- CMS Integration with third-party systems
- SEO optimization
Difference between CMS, WCMS and ECM
CMS, WCMS and ECM are often used interchangeable and are often considered as synonyms. That is because all three of them have much in common. However, there are still some main differences.
CMS – Content Management System is a platform to manage structured content like text, documents, video, and audio files. The CMS solution can either be an internal collaborative space to deal with a company’s digital content or an external system for public web pages.
WCMS – Web Content Management System is an extended version of CMS focused on websites. WCMS deals with pieces of content on the web and also enables managers to handle the entire website. It is an ideal solution for ecommerce stores.
ECM – Enterprise Content Management system is a descendant of CMS. Therefore, it is a more extended and advanced tool. The system is all about organizing and managing business processes and documents in a particular organization. It deals with both structured and unstructured content pieces. An ECM system includes CMS solutions, data protection tools, internal processes, and the company’s strategy. If necessary, it can be integrated with your ERP, CRM and other systems.
Benefits of a CMS solution
The major advantage of implementing a CMS solution in your business is that you can initiate commercialization much faster since you do not need to code everything from scratch. In general, you do not need extensive technical knowledge to manage and run your website. Here are some other benefits you can get through your CMS development:
- Accessibility – you get the option to access the platform anytime and through any device that is connected to the internet.
- Usability – the intuitive graphical user interface lets even non-tech-savvy users access and manage content easily throughout your CMS development.
- Scalability – it is easy to add new pages when your business grows or delete unnecessary pages when required, without the help of a developer.
- Collaboration – CMS solutions are available for multiple users, which is a convenient feature for organizations with large teams.
- Multitenancy – A single CMS platform can support multiple sites or multiple teams at a particular time by sharing content between them.
Types of CMS solutions
Currently, there are thousands of CMS solutions available in the market. They are classified into several categories based on factors like types of architecture, types of hosting and payment methods. Here are the types:
Open-Source CMS solutions
This type of platform is available for free to everyone. This means that you can download the system with no contracts or license fees. However, in this case, you can only get a basic version. Additional system extensions or extra provider’s assistance for CMS development will cost you money. In most cases, with zero initial expenses, you may need to pay for:
- Some add-ons, templates and CMS plugin development
- Technical support during installation and on a frequent basis
- Software updates
- Customization to meet the business needs
- Employee training
A major advantage of such CMS solutions is that a large community of developers can modify and redistribute the code, which leads to continuous improvement, quick fixes, and multiple options for customization.
Proprietary CMS solutions
Popular alternatives to open-source CMS solutions are commercial CMS platforms. They are developed not for common use but exclusively for individual companies. Customers utilizing proprietary solutions will have to:
- Buy a license
- Pay monthly or annual charges
Here are the benefits you get from a proprietary CMS solution:
- An out-of-the-box solution that will meet most of the company’s requirements
- Regular updates
- Constant CMS support and maintenance
- Built-in functionality for easy customization
It is possible that customers will have to pay extra amounts for some add-ons, technical support or training sessions.
On-premises CMS solutions
This type of CMS solution ensures the highest level of control over your data since they are hosted on physical servers located inside a company. These solutions require considerable investments and resources to be deployed, which may count as disadvantages. Also, when you are hosting critical data on your own, there is a greater risk of losing data due to human error.
Cloud-based CMS solutions
These CMS solutions are remotely hosted in the cloud and delivered by suppliers virtually through the web. Cloud solutions or Software as a Service (SaaS) merge web software components, web hosting and technical support into a single unit.
The pricing is usually based on subscription plans which include CMS development services like:
- Required data storage
- Number of users
- Amount of transferred data
Another payment model that is trendy among cloud computing customers is the pay-as-you-go model. Since it is based on actual usage, it is considered more cost-efficient.
Benefits of cloud CMS solutions
- Accessibility from any place through any device
- Faster implementation and deployment
- Reasonable price structure
- Major internal resources are not required
- Ongoing professional maintenance
- Scalability in case your business grows
- Enhanced security features
Traditional CMS solutions
It is also known as coupled CMS. This is because the architecture of these CMS solutions is based on a close connection between the frontend and the backend.
If you need a platform just for powering a website, then a traditional CMS solution is what you need. But if you want to maintain a multi-channel digital presence on multiple devices, it is insufficient. You will need to create multiple templates and layouts for each device type manually – with considerable revamping of the complete system structure. This is definitely expensive and time-consuming.
Headless CMS solutions
Headless CMS solutions represent multiple alternatives for every kind of business. It lets you deliver digital content from a single database to different devices as there is no connection between the front end and the backend.
Therefore, the content is not exactly tied to a specific template and can be sent to any presentation layer through an API, be it a wearable device or a mobile app. However, the one major drawback is that the preview for all devices is not available in a single CMS solution. You can however see the way content is displayed through all the related API projects.
Hybrid CMS solutions
It is also known as a decoupled system. In this case, a hybrid CMS solution combines the two previous types of architecture. It comes with an optional presentation layer that is separated from the backend by a set of APIs.
Using a content management system to develop and manage your website can help you grow over time. Not only will a CMS solution store all of your web content in one place, but it will also support collaborations across teams, enable quick and easy updates, and offer extensions and templates to customize your site.
As an experienced developer of CMS-based websites, Get My Sites highly recommends turning to a professional web development company instead of in-house customization. In-house CMS development needs a significant investment of time, money and other resources, without the guarantee of a satisfactory outcome. Also, an amateur-built website can compromise the reputation of the company, its security and credibility.
We offer end-to-end customized CMS development solutions that guarantee our customers maximum benefits from their websites. Our services ensure that all your individual requirements are met and you are finally equipped with a product that leads your digital journey. So, do not hesitate to contact our specialists to set up an initial discussion.