What is a Content Management System?

Strictly speaking, a Content Management System (CMS) is any collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a collaborative environment. However, the definition that we’re most interested in is that of a CMS as it pertains to the content of a web site or web-based application. This particular group of Content Management Systems is called Web Content Management Systems (WCMS).

A WCMS is a software system that provides the ability to author, collaborate, and administer the contents of a web site or web application with very little need for knowledge of programming or markup languages. This allows an owner, marketing personnel, or any assigned content administrator to have immediate and real-time control over the contents of their web site without the need to involve a developer or go through complex technical training or certification.

The majority of WCMSs are made up of a server-based web application that provides the interface through which the content and site structure are manipulated. The site’s data itself is often stored in a database, enabling easy re-use of structured content, and then rendered as the web site that the end-user sees using page templates. The WCMS’s user interface (UI) is usually accessed through a browser, meaning that no software needs to be installed on the client’s computer, the WCMS can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, and access to the system remains platform independent (meaning that any operating system can be used).

Because Content Management Systems are essentially web-based software that render the web site from stored content, there are specific frameworks and processes that a developer needs to follow when developing the site to be edited through the CMS. In addition, a considerable amount of planning goes into good CMS implementation to ensure that all areas that should be easily editable for the client will be in the most user-friendly way possible. For these reasons, the initial implementation of a Content Management System is often more costly and time consuming. However, that up-front cost is offset by the fact that the client will not need to return to the developer for every content change in the future, turning into what is often a dramatic savings over the long-term.

In addition to the long-term budget savings involved, the real-time ability of a client to manage his-or-her own web site’s content without having requests processed through a developer’s schedule means finite control over an individual or company’s web presence. The ability to respond quickly to opportunities and requests, keep content fresh and current, and manage search engine optimization and audience-targeting in-house brings additional value to the idea of a CMS.

These characteristics make Web Content Management Systems an ideal fit for any individual or organization that will need to frequently make changes or additions to the content of their web site – which essentially means anyone whose business depends on having an effective web-presence.

DATA, Inc. is a strong proponent of Content Management Systems and of the Kentico Content Management System in particular. To find out more about how Kentico compares in the CMS Market and what DATA can bring to bear for clients with our expert implementations of this software, check out these additional related articles: