What Is a Content Management System?

In the years of the internet’s infancy, almost every website was built using raw HTML code. This made it unreasonably expensive for ordinary people and small businesses to have their own custom website because you had to either know how to write HTML code or you had to hire someone who was experienced in HTML code.

In recent years, all of that has changed. Most modern websites are built on what’s called Content Management Systems. Content Management Systems (CMS) are web-based software that allow you to create, edit, and publish content to the internet.

The goal of Content Management Systems is to provide a user-friendly interface for the end user to build and modify webpage content. All CMS platforms provide a web publishing tool that allows one or more users to instantly publish updates live on the internet.

Content Management Systems are installed on your web hosting server and are accessible via a web-based user interface from any web browser in the world. While software programs, such as Adobe Contribute, Adobe Dreamweaver and others were popular for a few years, they have largely been replaced by web-based Content Management Systems. This means that if you have a catastrophic loss of your hard drive or even lose your computer entirely, you have not lost the software needed to login and update your website.

There are many different Content Management Systems available today. Some are more powerful than others and some are limited in their capabilities due in large part to their pricing model. Then there are others that are proprietary in that they once they’ve got you locked in, they make it difficult (and sometimes totally impossible) for you to transfer your website to other platforms as you grow and need other capabilities.

The most popular Content Management Systems are WordPressDrupalJoomla, Concrete5BloggerWeebly, and Wix. We usually recommend either WordPress or Drupal as these are two of the most flexible and widely supported Content Management Systems available today. Joomla is best used in social media network environments and Concrete5 is rather new and doesn’t have as many available plugins as the others – which is why these two are not normally our Content Management System of choice. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Concrete5 are all free open source platforms that offer the ability to use “plugins” to fully customize your site to do almost anything you could ever imagine. Whereas Blogger, Weebly and Wix are more proprietary in that they offer some additional features but not the ability to truly customize.

Lastly, Weebly and Wix do not offer the ability to monetize your site – so if you want to host ads on your site as a source of additional revenue – you’re out of luck. They also do not offer any true ability to transfer your website content to other Content Management Systems when you outgrow their platform. This is not a problem if you plan to stay on the Weebly or Wix platform forever, but most likely you do not. So what that means for you is that you’re going to have to manually transfer all of your content by hand should you ever decide to leave.

If you’re deciding on a new Content Management System, heed our advice and use either WordPress or Drupal – you’ll thank us later! If you’re already on one of these Content Management Systems and are looking to move to a different system, want additional functionality, are simply looking to expand your current website, or worse, if you’re already on Weebly or Wix and want to move, give us a call at 866-206-6738. We’d be happy to set up a free consultation to discuss our process and what we can do for you and your business.