CMS: Its Essence and How-To-Choose Guide

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How to attract and retain visitors to your website? Content, images, videos, and graphics provide users with additional value to the resource and are also positively noted by search engines.

Once created, any content must be published and then managed, updated, and distributed on the internet to the users. Regardless of the size of the website, this is a time-consuming task that in most cases is carried out with the help of the so-called content management system, or simply put, CMS. In this article, we will consider this system, its types, and its importance in the implementation of website management.

Let’s start by revealing the definition of this term.

What is CMS or Content management system

The CMS, or Content Management System, is a platform that allows its users to manage the website content: create and publish posts, place widgets, change the design, edit various elements, add functionality, and so on.

Consequently, the purpose of CMS is to simplify the process of creating and managing a website. Thanks to this system, companies do not need to hire an entire staff of professionals to add a new section or publish a new item on the website. To cope with such tasks it’s enough to have just one person without profound knowledge or special programming skills as long as a fairly simple CMS interface allows interacting with the resource without any problems or issues.

Yes, it’s possible to create a website manually, but nobody does it now. That is why when creating a website, companies prefer to use CMS.

We’ve just discovered what the CMS stands for but what makes it such a crucial, and sometimes a vital tool when creating a website? Let’s figure it out.

Why do you need a CMS

Modern CMS are extremely widely utilized since it’s simply impossible for any company that enters the internet arena to operate there without its own website. Therefore, they use different CMS to create a website with a pretty standard set of functions. There are more reasons for using the CMS, let’s take a look at them.

  • Development speed

As we know, the CMS provides its users with ready-made websites that just need to be adjusted for each case. That means that here the development process doesn’t take much time compared to building the website manually. Consequently, this factor may be considered as the most important since the faster the resource is made, the earlier it will start to perform its function, i.e. bring income to its owner.

  • Large selection of extensions or addons

Another advantage of CMS is the big number of various kinds of extensions, modules, and plugins with which users can expand the capabilities and increase the functionality whenever it is required. In addition, with their help, users may make their website according to their tastes and preferences. You can integrate your website and cms with shipping, payment and other solutions. Moreover, the more popular the platform is among developers and customers, the more extensions users can find for it to improve their resources.

  • Search engine optimization

All major CMSs are SEO-friendly, allowing them to include metadata, title, and description tags, custom URLs, and other elements appreciated by search engines. Therefore, a good CMS from the SEO point of view is the one that makes it easy to add and edit all the elements mentioned before. 

  • Easy update and modification

With any content management system, updating and changing content, design, or website in general, takes significantly less time due to its user-friendliness and functionality. The same goes for making any changes desired. Whether it concerns new menus, the website architecture, headers, and so on, the process of solving these diverse tasks becomes simple and fast, especially, with the availability of inbuilt management tools. 

The list of things that shows how useful and beneficial CMS is may be continued but we consider the points mentioned to be enough to convince you of its importance.

Types of CMS

Having explored the essence and significance of this tool, it’s time to get acquainted with the types of CMS along with their features:

  • WCM

WCM, or Web Content Management is a software system that ensures website creation, collaboration, and contains relevant management tools. In most cases, WCM includes uncomplicated markup and programming languages that allow each user to create and manage websites without any special knowledge or skills. Therefore, the main focus of this CMS is the website content.

  • ECM

ECM, or Enterprise Content Management, is a system that uses technologies to collect, manage, accumulate, store, and deliver information to all users of the organization. The ECM system focuses on working with unstructured information of any format, including office texts, PDF documents as well as pictures, presentations, email messages, audio files, and so on.

  • DAM

DAM, or Digital Asset Management, solves problems related to the receiving, editing, storing, searching, and distributing of digital assets (photos, animation, video, music, etc.). With its help, the digital resources of the company are in a safe and secure place, while access to them may be granted at any time and place.

  • DXP

DXP, or Digital Experience Platform, deals with processing and analyzing the consumer search, browsing, and purchasing history, location, and other data in order to improve the overall user experience. By means of this system, the companies may anticipate the customer’s interest in buying a product and then provide them with the relevant information and opportunities when they are ready to make a decision.

  • Headless CMS

Headless CMS is a system that is initially developed without a frontend, only with APIs (application programming interface) that are utilized to interact with external services and apps. This approach allows companies to connect any frontend to the headless CMS core, no matter what platform it runs on. Thanks to it, the content can be used on the website, on the mobile application, or in the interface of diverse gadgets. This expands business opportunities and enables companies to apply various solutions (integrating them one by one or all at once).

All types of platforms are focused on performing a specific task that’s why the choice of CMS depends on what goals and objectives are set for the system.

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What are three possible ways of getting a new website

We know that there are three possible ways of getting a new website:

  1. To create it from scratch using a programming language.
  2. To develop it on the CMS.
  3. To make it on the basis of a framework.

The first option is chosen by companies that obtain the required resources since building the website manually takes pretty much time and money.

The second option is suitable for businesses that want to create and launch their websites as soon as it’s possible and without the need to hire technically savvy professionals who obtain the relevant knowledge in this sphere.

But what about the third option? What does it stand for? Let’s take a closer look at the term “framework” and how it differs from CRM.

What is a framework

As we know, CMS is a platform on which users can quickly and easily develop a template website from ready-made solutions. A framework, in its turn, is a set of libraries with the necessary functionality that allows you to create non-standard solutions, i.e. it is a development tool.

The development on the basis of a CMS is the most suitable approach if the project is rather typical. That is, the CMS already has all the modules required and the processes that are built into the platform almost completely meet the requirements and expectations of users.

  • Advantages: a big number of templates, out-of-the-box functionality, and modules for its expansion; simplicity and speed of creating websites; convenient administrative panel; the ability to split access rights to the website in order to delegate certain functions.
  • Disadvantages: difficulties in introducing unique features, overloading with basic functionality, most of which may be not required but will affect the speed of the platform.

The development on the basis of a framework is the best decision if the company vision of the project doesn’t really fit into the capabilities and processes presented on CMS. That means that in the case of using a CMS, it will have to be significantly modified (which is not always possible).

  • Advantages: flexibility of the platform allows companies to turn into life any thoughts and ideas they have; high website performance; availability of ready-made packages and libraries to speed up the development process.
  • Disadvantages: frameworks require a lot of time since the functionality is developed from scratch; to work with them there is a need in having deep knowledge in the field of programming and website building.

To choose between CMS and framework, it’s recommended to compare the time and material costs of developing and maintaining the project along with the goals of its creation. For most standard solutions, a specialized CMS will suffice, while for the development one of a kind high-level product, it’s better to utilize frameworks.

Once the concept of this system is explored, it’s time to learn the principle of its work.

How does CMS work

In most cases, besides the common goal (to simplify the process of creating and managing websites), various CMS are united by a friendly and intuitive interface, thanks to which, users do not face any difficulties while interacting with this system. Let’s look at how CMS works in detail.

The whole process of making the website takes place in the administrative panel. The operation principle of all CMS is based on the separation of content and design of the website. Typically, the design alters rarely, while the content changes may occur every day (or every hour, depending on the type of the website). Therefore, after installation, any of the existing systems allow users to select a specific design template that will be responsible for the visual side of the pages (fonts, colors, images, logos, etc.).

Then the resource should be filled with the information. For that reason, CMS offers special blank page templates, in which the website design is already coded. Filling with the information happens with the help of a visual editor (WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get, for instance), which has an interface similar to the usual text editor, that’s why it’s not difficult for users to master this tool.

When the website is visually ready and the information is added, the functionality enters the stage. For now, the website has the required minimum, but the missing functions can be included separately. This is carried out with modules, plugins, and extensions. With their help, users, according to their needs, apply the features and functions they want their website to obtain. It may be anything – starting from the contact form to payment gateways. 

The process of creating the website on the basis of CMS is rather simple and doesn’t require much time or effort from its users. Therefore, it shouldn’t cause any issues or problems.

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How to choose a CMS

Once we are aware of the steps that are needed to be taken to build the website on the CMS, it’s time to see how to choose a suitable CMS for a certain type of business.

  • Decide on your CMS vision

All the CMS have their own features and they were initially designed for different purposes. That’s why the first thing companies should do is to make a decision on their needs and goals since this will be the basis for choosing the platform that will help achieve them according to their functions, tools, and other crucial elements presented.

  • Understand CMS features

Once the companies realize what they want to get from the system and the final product, it’s time to look through the characteristics of various platforms in order to pick those that will meet their expectations. For example, if there’s a need in creating an online shop, then such features as integrated payment systems or multi-currency support will be of much importance.

  • Think about the cost

The majority of CMS is provided for free, or, at least, they have free versions with quite a limited scope of functionality. It may be enough for some companies but not for all of them. Therefore, in order to get the full range of features and functions that the platform offers, the companies should be ready to pay a certain amount of money.

  • Determine your budget

As long as the required calculations are conducted and there is an understanding of how much money needs to be invested in order for the project not only to be viable but also profitable, the companies should sum up the results and draw up the budget.

This brief guide will help companies to make a wise and deliberate decision on the CMS that will ensure the best website operation according to their material possibilities and resources. This includes costs for development and support and update.

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Important CMS features

To continue our discussion about how to choose the right CMS, we want to take a closer look at the features that any good platform should have in order to provide its users with an opportunity to create an amazing as well as efficient website:

  • Security

Almost any CMS has vulnerabilities but this is not fatal since the CMS developers constantly test, detect, and eliminate them in the code. Updating the CMS is a common practice that protects the projects and resources from hacker attacks and information leakage, that’s why the system specialists regularly release fresh versions that are strongly recommended to be installed by the users in a timely manner.

  • Multilingual functionality

When it comes to international companies and businesses, the opportunity for users to switch languages becomes one of the most crucial as long as it’s obvious that when the users come to the website, they expect to understand what is offered to them and under what conditions. Hardly anyone will start translating the information into their native language, so, consequently, customers will probably leave the website empty-handed. And this is not the option, right?

  • Distributing content

Since the world of technology is constantly changing and developing, it’s essential for companies to catch up with them, thus providing their clients with all modern options, for example, VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), and so on. In this regard, brands should make sure that the CMS obtains all required up-to-date features that may influence their future work and profit (as a result).

  • SEO tools

The availability of the following elements displays the SEO-friendly status of the CMS:

– adjustment of meta tags

The ability to fill in the Title and Description blocks allows users to form a snippet of the website in search results. Some platforms generate this data automatically, which is undesirable since tags should be unique for each individual page rather than standardized.

– creation of clean URLs

A user-friendly URL enables users to see the topic of the page as well as the structure of the website. That’s why companies should make sure that the CMS gives an opportunity to set up and make the URL look like site.com/catalog/bags/. Furthermore, some CMS provide such a function after the installation of some plugins.

– XML sitemap

The CMS should provide an option to automatically create a sitemap file in a certain XML format that is intended for search robots. Therefore, when some changes appear on the website, the sitemap is immediately updated. The search engine analyzed it, saw the alterations, instantly indexed them, and they quickly got into the search. 

– setting up 3xx redirects

This function is necessary for the correct display of different versions of the website addresses, i.e. when there’s a need to redirect the users to the current page, when the website has moved, or when it’s under reconstruction. Without it, the users will bump into the 404 error which is bad for the ranking in search engines.

– CMS speed

No one likes to wait, right? Therefore, website speed is one of the most important ranking factors in search results. The slower the website works, the worse its position in search engines is. The optimal page load speed is 2-3 seconds, but the less the better. That’s why the companies should take this into consideration while picking the CMS.

  • Fast customer support

Due to the fact that the CMS is designed for non-technically savvy users, there’s a great need for many companies in obtaining prompt support from CMS specialists. Some CMS provide it for free, while others may include it in the paid versions only. Moreover, when there’s no support function, in most cases, there are large communities of developers that may also help CMS users in solving various tasks. Nevertheless, this is not suitable for everyone, therefore, this factor should also be considered.

  • Responsive mobile

We are all aware that the majority of internet entries are made via mobile phones. That’s why the absence of an adapted version of the website is not an option for the companies that strive to become successful. In this regard, while considering various options of CMS, brands should make sure that the system has a function to adapt the website with its content to smaller sizes of the screens of gadgets.

Now you know what features companies should take into account when making a decision on the most suitable for their business CMS. The information above should not be neglected as long as it may result in troubles in the website operation. And we don’t want that to happen, right?

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Top 5 CMS examples

We believe that now you’re ready to get acquainted with bright examples of CMS. Let’s get started:

01 WordPress

WordPress is the leader among free content management platforms. A great number of websites are made on this CMS. Initially, it was created for blogs, but over some time, its functionality has expanded allowing its users to build various commercial websites.

The system impresses with its simplicity of website creation and management along with thousands of plugins and templates that enable companies to make almost any project.

An easy installation process, a user-friendly administrative panel, a large community of users, and hundreds of guidelines for working with the platform are among its great advantages. 

However, when it comes to disadvantages, then we should mention that some third-party plugins may be incompatible with each other, and if there are too many of them, it can affect the working speed of the CMS. Moreover, this CMS is open source (the code is open to the public) and if users install unverified modules or plugins, there is a high risk of hacker attacks. That’s why companies should ensure proper control over the security of their websites.

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02 WooCommerce

First of all, WooCommerce is a plugin that is powered by the WordPress CMS, which implies that it’s provided for free. This CMS allows users to create full-fledged and high-quality websites without the knowledge of website development. As of today, this CMS has become one of the most popular tools for building e-commerce websites.

Its pros include the ability to adapt the websites to mobile devices and a high level of search engine optimization since by building the website here, users get a fast loading solution with optimized database operation, support of many plugins, and other useful tools.

Among the cons of the platform, it should be noted that it’s impossible to build, for example, an online store, for free as long as you need to pay at least for hosting and domain. Plus, together with free plugins and modules, WooCommerce also provides paid ones that may ideally fit the needs of the website. So in this case, you will have to pay for them.

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03 Shopify

Shopify is a platform that helps its users to develop and launch their own online stores, as well as to maintain its successful operation. It was created for users without any advanced design or technical skills as long as it provides the simplest functionality and a wide range of templates that enable them to quickly and easily create and manage websites of any complexity.

While working on this CMS, businesses have no reason to worry about the technical side since the platform offers everything they need, including the software, hosting, SSL certificate (which will encrypt data and transmit it over a secure communication channel), etc.

Unfortunately, the platform doesn’t offer free plans. Nevertheless, it provides users with a free 14-day trial period during which users may check all the features and functions available here. If at the end of this period, users decide that this CMS is suitable for them, they will be suggested four main pricing plans, ranging from $9 to $299 per month.

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04 Squarespace

Squarespace is a SaaS (software as a service) platform with which users can create websites without knowledge of CSS, HTML, and other markup and programming languages. The platform is pretty universal, which means that here users may build effective websites from scratch or on the basis of ready-made templates (either free or paid).

On the plus side of the CMS, Squarespace provides companies with a full set of marketing tools to ensure a great interaction with the audience and attraction of new customers. In addition, each website template has in-built integration, so there’s no need to look for other applications or additional plugins.

As for the payment, the platform offers a 14-day trial version in order to test all the system capabilities. But then, users have to choose one of the paid versions (from $16 to $54 per month). Furthermore, the system provides a 30% discount if users decide to pay annually, which is quite the bargain.

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05 Wix

Wix is one of the most famous e-commerce and website-building platforms that provides domain registration services. It allows users to create a website of any level and complexity in visual mode by simply dragging and dropping blocks. Here, a lot of attention is paid to the website appearance: themes adaptability and interface convenience, thanks to which users can create a quite unique website.

The advantages of this system are a large number of high-quality templates, an opportunity to configure the desktop and mobile versions of the website separately, a rich database of widgets, and a powerful SEO block for which an assistant has been developed. This assistant helps users to optimize their websites for efficient promotion in search engines.

Among its shortcomings, we can single out the fact that when utilizing the platform for free, users receive reduced functionality only, i.e. the company will not be able to connect its domain, and the website will display the system advertisement that can’t be turned off even on the cheapest paid version. The pricing policy here ranges from $4.50 to $24.50 per month.

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The described platforms obtain quite significant differences in the proposed functionality. Therefore, before making the final choice in favor of a particular system, it’s necessary to conduct a thorough analysis so that the tasks set for the future website coincide not only with the system capabilities but also with yours.

On a final note

A properly selected content management system will allow companies to create a high-quality website with an amazing design. This will facilitate attracting new visitors and even potential customers. Moreover, building a website using the CMS will let companies save not only their precious time but money as well.

In this article, we revealed the main aspects of this tool along with its types and best examples, however, the process of working with the CMS may still seem to be complex and difficult for someone. For that reason, we’re always here for you. This means that in case of any questions or doubts, you’re welcome to contact our team to work them out.

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