A content management system (CMS) is software that everyone from an individual to large company can use to create, revise, publish, and organize digital content on their website. There are two parts of a content management system: content management application (CMA) and content delivery application (CDA). The CMA component is the post-creation, back-end management and delivery of that content. In choosing a content management system, consider which CMA best suits the content team’s skill sets and website goals, as well as their expectations for the non-user facing back-end support. Finally, there are five different types of content management systems to choose from in determining how to organize your digital content: Component Content Management System, Enterprise Content Management System, Web Content Management System, Document Management System, and Digital Asset Management System.
Before choosing a content management system, determine the goals for its use, as applicable for the content producer/website developer and the content user. Although many content management systems offer similar qualities, like the ability to revise extant content or integrate multiple source materials from document types to audio visual elements, consider what content your site will most frequently deliver and how you want your users to engage with this content, especially in determining additional features that distinguish one system from another or any system limitations (e.g. content type, remote access, or storage capacity). Furthermore, the diverse needs of individual producers or larger businesses, as well as the various system complexities and offerings, result in a wide range of website costs. The choice of content management system is important in giving the content producer the tools that they need to achieve their purposes, but it is the content itself that will truly determine the success of the website.
Why Use Content Management Systems
Some of the most popular content management systems that are available to all and share many common benefits. As always, further research will help you determine which features and plans are best for your needs.
- User-friendly: One highlight of content management systems is how accessible they are for content creators. From those new to website use and content production to those who have substantial experience with various platforms, the ability of multiple individuals to create on a singular website at the same time is beneficial for effective collaboration and simultaneously task execution. The ease of collaboration is another distinguishing feature wherein content can be drafted, revised, published, and updated by different individuals and doesn’t require initial owner or publisher permission for material access. Finally, even without coding skills, the execution and the deployment of materials and the integration of additional features like plug-ins can occur.
- Time Management: In addition to ease of use, many CMSs include additional features that can be engaged “as is” or with customizable options. Digital templates (or site themes) are an example of such a resource into which content can be immediately input and published or can be altered in look or features to suit the aesthetic of the website or objective of that content. Thus, content can be quickly deployed for user engagement. Some additional benefits include scheduling of publications, built-in features, SEO tools, and content accessibility for internal and external users.
- Security: Although a benefit to the CMS is collaboration opportunities, many systems also offer the ability to customize access for different individuals, such as providing a small team with publishing permissions. Furthermore, content can be immediately updated as needed, which is especially helpful for time sensitive content or information or product inventory that is in flux. Many content management systems also include routine security monitoring and updates as part of the package.
Use of some content management systems is free, and many are available for a monthly fee or a single payment. A custom content management system is also an option but requires substantially more capital and technical expertise whether as part of an in-house team or an external company. These systems can be designed specifically for the individual client’s needs and ownership of that system belongs solely to a single client.
Common Misconceptions about Content Management Systems
Initial consideration of content management systems may seem relative to business and budget size. Smaller businesses may think that an online presence wouldn’t have enough of an impact on their profit goals to merit the cost of website design. There might also be a concern that the budget size may limit the quality of available systems. However, with so many available CMS options, there is a choice that will both work for your needs in current circumstances and in the growing user access that is the intention of any digital presence. Fortunately, the availability of CMS options continues to grow, so the likelihood of finding a suitable option within a feasible budget increases as well!
Another misconception about content management systems is that the qualities, like ease of use, that make them appealing also make them dangerous or ineffective. For example, if everyone can use a particular template, then no one can really benefit from that design. However, SEO is not about the design itself but rather the content included on that template. The impact of your website depends on your content strategy. Another misconception related to ease of use is that if it is easy to use, then its security must be easier to compromise. Certainly, in researching content management systems and granting permissions to the system content, it is important to understand available security support and measures utilized, as well as any optional upgrades or safety features that are needed. In short, no single quality of a content management system is going to guarantee or negate its helpfulness in achieving your goals.
Watching a quick video tutorial for a content management system or the advertisement for it makes it seem almost effortless to create content in any content management system. When faced with actual execution, people sometimes feel that they need more training or don’t have the support to make the best use of the content management system. As with any tool or activity, learning takes time, and there will understandably be some trial and error throughout the process that will, ultimately, improve your website and its performance for the intended audience. Most content management systems have available support resources for you to access. So, if you are concerned about your ability to independently navigate through the various tools and options, consider what educational and support offerings are available in the system and in association with the system.
Whether you are already using a content management system but need expertise in content marketing or search engine optimization or are at the starting point with website creation, maintenance, or enhancement, contact APD for all of your website design and development needs.