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What Is a Content Management System?

cms123If you’ve done any research into the different types of platforms used to build websites, you’ve probably come across content management systems (CMS). These platforms are designed to make building, and maintaining, websites easier and less stressful. Regardless of your coding knowledge, you can easily launch a function website using a traditional CMS.

Think of a CMS as an all-in-one platform that handles the creation and modification of new content. It provides an intuitive user interface (UI) where you can publish pages, engage in form discussions, add blog posts, manage users, upload files, and perform dozens of other tasks. You simply log into your CMS’ respective admin portal, where there are numerous menus and options for adding, modifying and deleting content.

The truth is that websites can be built using nothing more than Notepad, manually typing each line of code by hand. But this is a painstaking and tedious process that doesn’t make sense given all of the amazing CMS platforms available today. Building your website with a CMS is faster, easier and a better all-around method.

CMS Advantages:

  • Changing the design of CMS websites is easier, often requiring nothing more than activating a new “theme” or template.
  • Built-in functionality, such as WordPress’ plugins and Joomla’s extensions, allow for quick and easy integration of new features into the website.
  • Requires little-to-no coding experience. With the right CMS, you can build a beautiful, fully functional website without ever touching its HTML code.
  • Easily duplicate pages with the click of a button.
  • Encourages visitor interaction. CMS platforms typically support visitor comments, forum posting, guest books, and other forms of engagement.
  • Can add the new content straight from the admin portal, without using a file-transfer-protocol (FTP) program.
  • Moving websites to a new domain is typically easier with CMS platforms, as the data is stored in a server-side database.
  • Supported by a strong community of developers who are eager to fix problems and improve the platform.

CMS Disadvantages:

  • Often results in the same content being published on multiple URLs. WordPress, for instance, publishes content under categories, tags, archives and author in addition to the standard URL.
  • Building websites from scratch using Notepad or a similar text editing program is completely free, whereas certain CMS platforms may charge customers a flat fee or monthly/yearly subscription.
  • Hackers frequently target outdated CMS platforms, making them vulnerable to malicious attacks. Of course, this can be prevented through regular updates and integrating security measures.
  • Spammers use automated software to blast CMS platforms with fake comments. Trying to weed through thousands of spam comments is a tedious and time-consuming process.
  • There are limitations on certain CMS platforms that may prevent or restrict certain features.
  • Maintaining a CMS websites typically requires more work (and money) than static websites.

WordPress, The World’s Most Popular CMS

WordPress is the world’s most popular and widely used content management system, powering over 77 million active websites and counting. Some of the websites that currently use the WordPress platform include TechCrunch, TED, CNN, Major League Baseball, eBay and the National Football League. It’s a powerful, versatile and user-friendly platform that’s chosen by millions of webmasters from across the world.

WordPress was initially created as a blogging platform, but over the years it’s evolved into a versatile platform that can be used to build practically any time of website. Granted, most webmasters still use it for blogging, WordPress can be modified to achieve any appearance.

Why do so many big companies and Internet marketers choose WordPress as their CMS? Among other things, it’s incredibly simple and easy to use, featuring a UI that looks and feels natural. And being that so many websites run the the WordPress platform, it’s frequently updated to resolve security vulnerabilities and improve its functionality.

Other CMS Platforms…

But you shouldn’t limit yourself to only using the WordPress platform. There are dozens of alternative CMS platforms that are just as effective, if not more effective, than WordPress.

If you intend to launch an e-commerce website, then perhaps you should choose a CMS that’s tailored specifically for e-commerce. WordPress can be modified to achieve an e-commerce look and feel,  but there are some platforms that are optimized for use with online stores. BigCommerce, Shopify and Adobe Business Catalyst are just a few of the leading e-commerce CMS platforms.

Some of the other CMS platforms include:

  • Joomla
  • Drupal
  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • Blogger
  • ExpressionEngine
  • TextPattern
  • Radient CMS
  • SilverStripe

When choosing a CMS platform, consider your website’s theme and overall objective. It’s important to choose the CMS that’s best suited for your particular needs, because switching platforms isn’t easy. WordPress and the Google-owned Blogger are excellent choices for blogs, whereas Joomla and Drupal are better tailored towards traditional websites.

Hopefully, this will give you a better understanding of content management systems and their role in modern-day web design.