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Friday, July 12, 2013

What Is a Content Management System (CMS)

I was conducting an introduction to Drupal webinar a few weeks ago and one of the attendees asked me what a CMS was.  He knew it meant Content Management System, but wanted to know what a content management system was and if it was possible to have a website that wasn't a content management system.

Technically speaking, all websites have content that needs to be managed, but content management systems usually have tools to allow non-technical personnel to contribute and maintain content, and most will have some kind of approval process to review content before it gets published.  Additionally, tools to help people manage their content and administer the site will also be included.  Software packages such as CommonSpot, Drupal, and Ektron all have such features.

Content management systems also have 2 distinct user groups to please.  The general public who will visit the website, and the team of developers, content contributors, content approvers and administrative personnel who need to maintain the site.  In the early stages of site design, the needs of both audiences need to be considered.  In my mind, it is just as important, if not more important, to make sure the site is easy to manage and the content easy to maintain.

Developers have been creating content management systems since the beginning of the world wide web, mostly as a way to allow customers to manage their sites and content (without having to bother the developers).   Nowadays there are many more websites and many more CMS packages out there, but the idea is still the same, build your customers a system to help them manage their site and content (so they won't bother you every time they need to create a page and don't know HTML).

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