In the business world, there are a lot of acronyms to keep up with. SEO, CRM, SERP, CDN and CMS are just a few important ones.
CMS is especially important as more than half of all websites are built with a website. So what is it
CMS stands for Content management system. It can also be the solution you’re looking for to quickly build a website with limited technical knowledge and resources.
In this post we define what a CMS is and how it works. Then we’ll look at how you can use a CMS to manage your website infrastructure so you can focus on creating exciting, engaging content that leads to more conversions and leads.
Finally, let’s take a look at some of the most popular CMS platforms out there. Let’s begin.
What is a content management system (CMS)?
A CMS, short for Content Management System, is a software application that allows users to create and manage a website without having to code it from scratch, or even to code it at all.
With a CMS you can create, manage, change and publish content in a user-friendly interface. You can customize the design and functionality of your website by downloading or purchasing templates and extensions instead of coding them. You can have multiple users working in the back end of the same tool – and much more.
You may be wondering how software does all of this. To answer this question, let’s take a closer look at how a CMS works.
How a CMS works
To understand how a CMS works, you first need to understand what it’s like to build a site from scratch.
You start with HTML to add text, images, navigation bars, and other building blocks to a site. Then you add CSS to design these elements to match the unique look and feel of your brand.
Whenever you want to make changes – even simple ones like updating content – you have to download files from the server, open them, and change the HTML by hand. Then you need to make sure you haven’t broken any links or anything else before uploading the files back to the server.
Sounds complicated, right? For developers and other advanced users with experience in website development, building a website from scratch is ideal. But for those who don’t have the coding skills or the time and resources to build and maintain a site from scratch, they can use a CMS. Let’s talk about how.
How to use a CMS
A CMS consists of two core parts: a content management application (CMA) and a content delivery application (CDA). Together, these applications process essentially all of the code, database queries, and infrastructure in the back end, so you can focus on the front end of your site.
Here you can see how easy it is to create a blog post with, for example, WordPress.
To make other changes to your site, such as: For example, to change the permalink structure or to install extensions, simply navigate to the relevant section in your admin area. This is the CMA in action: all of these changes are made in an intuitive interface that hides the code from you, the end user.
When you’re done making changes, the CDA picks up the content entered into the CMA, compiles the code, displays it to your front-end visitors, and saves it. That said, if you want to publish a new blog post, for example, all you have to do is click the Publish button instead of manually uploading a page to your server.
Now that we understand what a CMS is, how it works, and how to use it, let’s examine the advantages of a CMS over building a website from scratch or any other website building tool.
Why do you need a CMS?
We have already pointed out some of the benefits of using a CMS. However, let’s take a look at a few specific ways that can affect your setup process, team productivity, and online visibility.
1. No coding skills required
By allowing non-developers and other users to create websites without coding, CMS systems have helped revolutionize web design. Gone are the days when you had to rely on web developers and designers to build an online presence for your business.
You can create and manage content, customize the design of your website, and install extensions to add functionality to your website – all without coding. (It’s important to note that on most platforms you can also add custom code for more precise control of your site.)
As a result, with limited technical resources and time, users can still build a powerful website for their business.
2. Easy collaboration
Several users can simultaneously access and work on the back end of a CMS. That means, on a specific day, your marketers can create content, your IT pros implement security protocols, and your developers can add custom code to your topic. In fact, they could all be working on the same landing page.
In short, a CMS can help improve workflow and productivity on your team.
3. SEO functions and extensions
CMS platforms offer built-in functions and add-ons that you can use to optimize your website for search engines.
With built-in tools or third-party tools, you can:
By implementing these best practices, you will improve your chances of ranking on Google and other major search engines.
4. Ready-made templates
Most CMS platforms like CMS Hub have a selection of predefined templates that you can use to quickly customize the look and feel of your website. They can also influence the behavior of your website.
For example, choosing a responsive template will ensure your site will look great on any device without writing a ton of code. Templates not only save you design time before launching your website, but they can also greatly speed up and simplify the redesign of a website in the future.
5. Easy updates
As explained above, a CMS can make changes to your website quicker and easier – from major updates like a website redesign to minor updates like changing the image on your home page. Instead of hiring a freelance developer or trying to edit the code yourself, you can go to your CMS’s dashboard to update and edit your website’s content. This is a great way to keep your content dynamic and relevant.
As your website grows, you may need to upgrade to a CMS to meet your needs. You can start your search by looking at some of the best CMS systems below.
Examples of CMS platforms
- CMS Hub
Let’s unpack eight popular examples of CMS platforms to find out which ones are best for your website needs.
1. CMS Hub
With CMS Hub, you can build websites that are safe, powerful, and optimized for search engines.
With this all-on-one platform, you can create personalized content for visitors based on data from your HubSpot CRM, create custom templates and styles, A / B tests on multilingual content, safely redesign and restart websites, and view performance analysis and much more.
Combining ease of use and flexibility, this proprietary CMS is ideal for companies with diverse teams of marketers, developers, and IT professionals who want to grow over time.
Find out more about the CMS Hub customization options, multilingual support, reporting dashboards, and more.
WordPress is a self-hosted platform that supports millions of websites. You can easily and quickly create a WordPress site using the Gutenberg editor and then customize it using one of the thousands of plugins and themes available in the official WordPress directory or on other third party websites.
Would you like to add forms and live chat to your website? Would you like a topic with an integrated visual builder and split tests? WordPress plugins and themes like these can help you create a unique, branded experience.
Website owners looking for more functionality built right into the platform can try a WordPress alternative like Joomla.
Like WordPress, Joomla is an open source CMS. What makes Joomla stand out is its built-in multilingual support and advanced user and content management options that make it ideal for member, community, and social networking sites. For example, UIDAI is a multilingual website operated by Joomla.
Drupal is a highly flexible CMS preferred by large corporations and government agencies like NASA. While you need web development experience to get the most out of this platform, you don’t have to start from scratch.
In addition to its out-of-the-box features, you can choose from 44,000 modules in its directory and thousands of free topics in its topic repository to create a complex site that handles large amounts of data and heavy traffic like the Rush University Medical Center website.
The self-hosted version of Magento, known as Magento OpenSource, is like the Drupal of the e-commerce world. It’s highly flexible and secure, but difficult to learn, and uses all of the built-in features and extensions.
With Magento you can manage multiple branches, use multiple global shipping providers, and conduct transactions in different countries, languages, and currencies – all within one dashboard.
So if you have the time and resources to invest in setup and maintenance, you can build an online store with a huge product inventory and global reach.
Webflow is a “visual” content management system designed to fill a niche in the market for web designers who want to focus on building and customizing websites without worrying about hosting, security, or performance.
With Webflow, you can start with one of the hundreds of ready-made templates, or you can start over with the Webflow designer shown below.
You can also extend the functionality of your website through third-party integrations or by embedding HTML code. Because it requires at least some knowledge of HTML, CSS, and web design, Webflow is best for a freelance designer or agency.
If you are looking for a simpler and lighter weight CMS dedicated to blogging, Ghost is a great option. Ghost is a headless CMS, meaning its body (the content repository) is separate from its head (the presentation layer).
Basically, you can create and manage content this way and then deliver it to any platform and channel, from smartwatches to virtual reality, via the Node.js APIs (or any other front-end tool you prefer). Headsets.
With an intuitive editor and built-in SEO tools, Ghost appeals to bloggers and beginners who want a simple website that is easy to create and manage.
Sitecore is a headless enterprise-grade CMS that lets you create and deliver personalized websites, emails, social media posts, and mobile experiences.
You can use the WYSIWYG editor with drag-and-drop capabilities, session- and device-based personalization rules, and multilingual tools to scale your content creation and deliver content optimized for the interests, language, and device of your users. Thanks to the headless Sitecore architecture, you can deliver these relevant customer experiences across multiple channels, including web, social media, voice, point of sale and more.
This CMS supports 130,000+ websites in industries from sports to banking to travel and more. Some of the biggest brands are American Express, ASOS, L’Oréal and Volvo Cars.
Use a CMS to build your site
Using a content management system to build and manage your website can help you grow over time. A CMS not only stores all of your web content in one place, it also supports collaboration between teams, enables quick and easy updates, and offers templates and extensions to customize your website.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for completeness.