If you have a website, or if you're considering building one, you may have heard the term "CMS" and wondered what it was and if it could be useful to you. CMS stands for content management system. There are many different content management systems available for use on the web. Some of them are free, and some are fee-based. In this article, we'll discuss what a CMS does, and things to consider when choosing whether or not to use one.
Your website is a combination of theme or wrapper (ie. logo, banner, navigation buttons) and content (text, pictures, audio clips, videos). Websites use a similar theme in colors and graphics across all of the pages so the entire site presents itself as one unified prescence with many sections, separated out into pages. Behind the theme and the content, are coding languages that tell a web browser how to display the information. Most websites are coded in HTML and CSS, and saved as .html files.
So what does CMS have to do with themes, content, and coding? Well, most of the time when someone wants to make an edit to their website, they don't want to change the theme of the whole site. They just want to change the content. They might add a picture to a photo gallery or they could add a news story about their business. These kinds of edits seem like they should be simple tasks but would require a working knowledge of HTML or a website building program to accomplish. This is where CMS comes in, to simplify the process.
The CMS stands as a gatekeeper between content and code, allowing website owners to make edits to their text and pictures, without running the risk of making unintended changes to the entire theme of their website. It gives the website owner complete control over the content of all the pages, providing easy access for them to upload pictures, text, video and audio clips, and create new pages as the need arises. Meanwhile, the overall theme of the website remains untouched, so they don't have to worry about presenting a broken website to the world.
So, should you use a content management system? Factors to consider:
- Frequency of updates: If you plan to update your website with new content more than 5 or 6 times per year, there may be a significant cost savings if you are able to do those updates yourself, through a CMS.
- Amount of information contained in website: If your website is very large and contains a lot of pages worth of information, you would benefit from the organizational tools and site-wide updating capabilities.
- Interactivity: If you have forms (eg. employment applications, tests, event sign ups) you would likely benefit from the many modules that are available in a CMS. Modules handle processes requiring data input, and store the input in a database.
We hope this article has given you a basic understanding of a content management system and factors to consider when you are deciding whether or not to use one. There are many different content management systems, but the one we offer is called nVantage. We built this CMS from the ground up, and have endless options in customization of its functions. It has been through basic usability testing to assure ease-of-use, and has been optimized for use with search engine marketing.
Learn more about our content managed websites.