In the online world CMS stands for content management system. It is an online application to manage, schedule, edit, post and share content which could be in the form of articles, images, videos and various other content.
Before any content management systems were created, webmasters would have to create websites from scratch using HTML and CSS. If you wanted to create a new page for your website, you would have to code it in HTML including the text or content and upload it to your server. This painful process was soon remedied and the content age began.
Content Management Systems starting popping up around the early 1990s with the first CMS being RAINMAN developed by AOL.
Today, you can find content management systems almost anywhere on the web. WordPress is one of the most popular CMS’s out there with about 75 million websites using it including this one! Sharepoint, Joomla and Drupal are a few more to throw out there but we will get into specific content management systems later.
Why Use a CMS?
Using a content management system for your website can be very beneficial for many reasons:
Easy for non-coders
A content management system is usually built for ease-of-use to almost any person with slight technical skills. Most content management systems have a simple back-end that allows creating and managing content very easy and code-free.
Allows multiple users
When you use a CMS for your website, you will have the ability to create different users and even separate roles for each user. CMS’s like WordPress have roles like Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor and Subscriber.
This allows you to manage your content flow through any user levels you would like. For example you could have authors that write the content but can’t post it, editors that can edit content but not post it and administrators who can post content.
Many content management systems are very search engine optimized out of the box. This means that they are built to maximize your website’s crawl-ability by the search engine spiders. It does this by having keyword rich URLs, structured data and being trusted by the search engines.
Designing a website from scratch can be quite the difficult feat. But when you use a CMS you will have the ability to easily change designs by using templates. Many content management systems have hundreds, if not thousands, of pre-made templates.
Good content management systems allow you to schedule content so that it will automatically post your content when you desire. This is great for large companies who are constantly publishing content and have to schedule posts for the future.
Plugins and add-ons
CMS software like WordPress has thousands of plugins that you can add to your website. These plugins allow you to add functionality to your website that helps your business better. For example, there is a plugin for WordPress that allows you to automatically backup your site everyday so you will never lose your data.
These plugins allow you to be more streamlined in what you are doing with your content management system. If you are using WordPress, you can check out their Plugin Directory and view the cool plugins you can add to the popular CMS.
What is the best CMS?
There are plenty of great content management systems out there and each of them have positives and negatives. But as far as the best go..There are 3 main CMS’s out there that pretty much rule the entire CMS market.
As mentioned before, WordPress is easily the most popular CMS among webmasters online. WordPress started out as a simple, easy to use, blogging platform that has evolved into a super powerful CMS. There are a lot of reasons that make WordPress so great:
- SEO friendly: With a simple plugin, you can completely optimize your website for better search engine optimization.
- Easy to use: WordPress is simple for non-coders and amateur webmasters.
- It’s free: You can download WordPress for free right here.
- Open Source: WordPress is open source so you can edit its core code if you’d like.
- Custom functionality: If you want custom functionality, you will have to pay for it.
- Bad for large sites: When you reach larger amounts of articles, WordPress tends to get slow.
- Plugins can cause latency: Plugins are open-source.. which means they can have bugs and malware.
Joomla is another free content management system that allows you to create a dynamic websites and online applications. Joomla is also open-source so all files are editable if you wish to change or improve it yourself. Joomla is written in PHP and uses OOP (object oriented programming).
- Ecommerce: Building an e-commerce site with Joomla is very simple. With just a few plugins you can sell products online.
- It’s free: You can download Joomla for free here.
- Open Source: Joomla is also open source software.
- Large Community: There is a large following of Joomla users so getting tips and help is very easy.
- Not Many Plugins: Unlike WordPress, Joomla doesn’t offer nearly the amount of plugins that WordPress does.
- Learning Curve: For a non-web person, Joomla is a little more difficult to setup and configure.
Drupal is a very powerful CMS that uses modules (similar to WordPress plugins) to create a feature-rich custom website. Drupal features simple content authority, good performance and excellent security.
- Great Security: Drupal prides itself on its security. Its security team is working 365 fixing patches and finding weaknesses.
- Extensible: Different content types allow your Drupal website to be whatever you want it to be.
- Open Source: Drupal is open-source and free. You can download it here.
- Learning Curve: Open-source systems are always prone to more hackers but Drupal’s security is top notch!
- Resources: Can consume a lot of resources with big sites with a lot of content or modules.
- Custom Apps: Drupal doesn’t work well for customized websites.
- Installation: Compared to other CMS Drupal is a little more difficult to install.
These 3 content management systems are used by over 40 million people worldwide. They are used for all different types of websites from The White House (which is on Drupal) to Tech Crunch (on WordPress).
Content Management Systems make creating, building and managing a website a lot easier. With a UI-friendly backend, a CMS can be used by almost anyone with some web experience. When you are looking to get a website built with a content management system, you have plenty of options to choose from:
- WordPress is a powerful CMS with hundreds of thousands of plugins to customize your site to your liking.
- Joomla is a feature-rich content management system that takes a little longer to setup but its very powerful and scale-able.
- Drupal is a security-backed CMS that allows for fast creation and extensible options.