Simply put, a Content Management System (CMS) is a system for managing content. Unfortunately, this basic definition fails to capture what a successful content management solution entails. 

A CMS refers to a Web application that provides a centralized database, allowing for the creation, revision and storage of various content through a predefined interface. Digital content is managed through a combination of rules, specific workflows and processes, which are applied to the content in order to facilitate the effective and efficient “output” of said content. These rules and workflows are meant to ensure that the data is easily accessible, systematically organized and fully functional.

The particular content being governed is digital information and HTML content such as video, image, graphics, text, sounds and documents. Depending on the content and how it is being used, the feature of a CMS can vary drastically from one system to the next. Generally, a CMS will have functions including indexing, search, retrieval, format management, revision control and web-based publishing. In a CMS, website content is developed and edited withing the administrative area of the application, which is referred to as the Backend CMS. The content that is displayed on the website for viewers to see is referred to as the Frontend CMS.

Choosing the right CMS for your business is an important decision. The goal of any CMS is to make the creation and revision of content as straightforward and easy as possible. Keep this in mind while conducting your search. Focusing on functionality instead of ease may results in the selection of a CMS that fails to serve your basic needs. You need to find a CMS that offers the functionality you want without sacrificing the ease of use that your customer needs. A quality CMS is one that allows users to focus on the Frontend design rather than worrying about functionality or the implementation of extensions.

Many developers rely on open source CMS’s when building their websites. The popularity of CMS’s, paired with their open source roots, has resulted in the creation of thousands of various CMS’s. As such, finding the CMS that best suits you or your company’s needs can prove daunting.

Here are some important tips to remember when choosing a CMS:

  • Not everyone who’ll be using the CMS is as tech savvy as you might be, so unless you’re building the website for yourself, you need to take the customer into account when selecting a system. You want to find a CMS that allows the customer to use the website they’re creating just as they’d like it to work. This means forgoing complicated functionality for a simple administrative interface, even if this requires more customization of the CMS so that it meets the customer’s needs.
  • Don’t be misled to think that a widely used CMS is indicative of a good CMS. Some developers make the mistake of choosing popular CMS’s based on their large community of developers. While a large following may result in a greater number of available extensions or plugins, this doesn’t guarantee that they will be best suited for your needs.
  • On a similar note, don’t pick an overly simplistic CMS just so it will be easy to use. You need to make sure that the CMS you choose includes all the functionality that you’ll need. Some of the best CMS’s are still in development, so even if you happen upon a CMS that looks promising, always check it see if it will satisfy your needs.
  • Do your research before deciding upon a CMS. Most CMS’s will offer example websites as a sample of their functionality, so evaluate these sits as a measure of the CMS’s capabilities. Read what others have said about a CMS to find out the pros and cons of a particular system. If you have questions, try reaching out to the developers for guidance.

There are several important factors to consider when searching for a CMS. These are:

  1. Installation that’s quick and easy.
  2. Simple template control and manipulation.
  3. An administrative interface that’s easy to understand.
  4. A user community that’s active and helpful.

When evaluating a CMS, be sure to take these tips and considerations into account. If you do, you’re sure to find a CMS that not only meets your development needs, but is also user-friendly.