What is a CMS?
A CMS (Content Management System) is a computer application or set of similar programs that can be used to create or manage digital content. Ya, that probably didn’t help.
A CMS takes care of the backend coding of a website. By creating templates, the CMS allows multiple users to manage the content, information and data of a website. By using a control panel or administration, a CMS enables businesses to create, edit, publish, archive content and then distribute such content, data and information quickly and efficiently.
Ok, now that we have a better understanding, let’s see the different types of CMSs there are.
Types of CMS
The most popular Open Source CMS run on PHP. These include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal—the White House website is a Drupal site. Open source (OS) programs can be used by anyone for any purpose and do not require a license. You may also customize an open source CMS without special permission. Pretty nice!
Most of the proprietary CMS solutions are built and maintained by a single company. That means you need to be comfortable with the company running them. Typically, they do not allow access to the source code, although some of the better ones provide an open framework (or API) that means they can be extended by others. Some require a license fee of some sort, although it is often built into the hosting charges.
With a SaaS Model Platform, a user “configures” the application for their use versus customizing it. you are “leasing” the application or an instance of it for your client’s site by paying for the use of the software, and not for the ownership of the software.
Features can vary among the various CMSs, but the core functions are often considered to be indexing, search and retrieval, format management, revision control and publishing.
You can typically look for the following features:
- Ease of use — Ease of use means the system is quick to set up, the essential tools are complete and easy to find and there is a rich knowledge base to turn to for FAQs.
- Out-of-the-box plugins — For many users, integrating a plugin or third-party app may be a tad difficult, so it is important that, upon setup, the CMS solution already has the plugins you need.
- Deployment — Open source CMS provides the best option for many companies. It is license-free and doesn’t cost to upgrade. Coupled with SaaS, this CMS type enables the most flexible infrastructure to manage content.
- Design options — If you want your site to stand out, basic, thematic websites provided by CMS may limit your design. But there are CMS solutions that allow for template customization; some platforms even let you drag and drop design elements to help you achieve a unique appearance built on a themed template.
Once you figure out what is best for you or your company you can move forward to the actual CMS.
There are many different CMSs to choose from out there today. The main CMS being WordPress. Because this is a well-known CMS I have decided to cover five other systems.
Around since 2001 and among the free and open-source, popular CMSs, Drupal may be the most flexible and powerful system that exists.
Drupal can be overkill for simple sites with its large number of features. There is also a lack of quality, free themes, so you will probably have to purchase one if you want your site to look nice.
This CMS has been used for everything from inventory control systems to your everyday run-of-the-mill websites. Prominent companies like MTV, Harvard University and IHOP use this for their websites.
With over two hundred thousand users and contributors, Joomla has a long development history as well as a very active development commission, so if you need tutorials or info, you can easily find it. If you need add-ons and plugins for this CMS, that’s also available.
However, Joomla isn’t as user-friendly and does not have as high-quality themes as WordPress.
Wix is a highly customizable free website builder designed to be user-friendly with no coding skills required by the user. The builder features drag and drop functionality as well as an App Market with over 200 apps to personalize websites and an online store.
Wix users frequently mention the ease and flexibility of design as a common benefit of the tool as you can see in the image above.
Modern IM XPRS is one of the best SaaS-platforms with a visual editor. It is meant for newbies wanting to create blogs, online stores, business websites, portfolios and landing pages.
One of the interesting features of the system is its free premium accounts for non-commercial organizations, students and artists. Other users can also use IM XPRS for free, but they don’t have an opportunity to connect their own domains to the websites created.
Although Weebly is not the first full-featured drag and drop CMS, it has endured as one of the best for designing and testing online stores.
It combines an assortment of beautiful, responsive themes with simple, intuitive controls and built-in analytics but it lacks the depth of some of its competitors.
Now you ask, what are the benefits for me? Well, let’s go over a few points.
Content Editing is Separate from Design
Your content editing is separate from the design and functionality of the site, so users that don’t have design degrees can add, format and edit their content on the website without having to fiddle with design and coding.
Selective Access Permissions
Every user can have selective access permissions based on their roles, such as author, editor, contributor, administrator, etc. You can choose to allow some users to add and edit their own content while giving others universal access. This helps to maintain security since contributors can have restricted access.
Site updates are quick and effortless when using a CMS. Even when using the administrative interface, components like menus, headers, footers and sidebars can be easily (and quickly) updated.
CMSs are very SEO-friendly. They can include custom page titles as well as metadata and adjustable URLs. Helper plugins are also available if you want tips on how to optimize your content.
The Most Popular Options Are Free
The best part, the basic framework of most CMS programs are free. In that case, you only need to pay more for further customization options, such as a premium design or extra security.
This post is to give you an idea of the other content management systems out there being used every day other than WordPress. I think I will explore them all, what about you?