To Know About Content Management Systems

Imagine the structure of modern websites and applications: these are complex ecosystems with numerous pages, integrations and functions. Content management software is the most efficient tool for organizing, managing and delivering content on such web resources.

Content

In today’s article, we provide a comprehensive view of the content management system and help you understand why it is cool to have a CMS-based website.

What Is a CMS?

To get an idea of what we are talking about, let’s start with the definition of a CMS. A content management system is a software solution used for website and mobile app development that provides the ability to create, edit and publish various pieces of digital content (text, images, video).

A CMS is a collaborative environment that allows multiple users with admin rights to access either all or a limited set of functions in a web solution and modify information. This is especially convenient for e-Commerce stores and other large businesses.

We can briefly describe a CMS architecture as consisting of a programming framework (e.g. ASP.NET), a database for data storage, and a presentation layer with a set of templates for layout settings.

How Does a CMS Work?

Now moving on to the working principles and common functions of most content management platforms.

Two large structural components of a system are:

  • Content delivery application (CDA) — the backend part responsible for the code logic of a web solution and for the transformation of content into a visual part for end users
  • Content management application (CMA) — the frontend part or the user interface for editors where they create and update content without touching the code

These two components are tightly connected, but non-technical users work at the interface level and don’t see the backend, which is the liability of developers and webmasters.

For example, when you write a new article to your blog or add detailed information to the product page of your online store, you download text and images to a standard template and click the “publish” button. At this point, all the data you have added to the template is being submitted to the database where a new row entry is created in the corresponding table to store this data. 

Common CMS Functions

The essence of content management is the creation and modification of digital content, so any specialized software should provide the following fundamental functions:

  • Storing data
  • Creating new entries
  • Viewing existing entries
  • Editing existing entries
  • Deleting existing entries

Traditionally, content management software is offered as an out-of-the-box solution with basic functionality. However, it can be customized with the help of special plug-ins and add-ons. As a result, you can add more capabilities to your solution and greatly expand the list of its functions, so a CMS can also manage the following:

  • Search
  • Retrieval
  • Text format
  • Design
  • Media
  • URL logic
  • Metadata fields
  • Publish dates
  • Access control
  • Version control
  • Indexing
  • Reporting
  • Marketing campaigns
  • SEO optimization
  • Integration with third-party systems

Types of Content Management Systems

Thousands of content management solutions currently available on the global market are classified into several categories depending on methods of payment, types of hosting and types of architecture. Let’s take a look.

Open-Source CMS

This type of software is available to everyone for free, meaning that you, along with hundreds of other companies, can download and use a system with no license fees or contracts. In this case, however, you get a basic version only. Any additional provider’s assistance or system extension cost money. Thus, with zero initial expenses, you might have to pay for:

  • Technical support during installation and on a regular basis
  • Some add-ons, plugins and templates
  • Customization to meet your business needs
  • Software updates
  • Employee training

A big advantage of such software is that a thriving community of developers redistribute and modify the code, which contributes to continuous software improvement, quick issue fixing and multiple customization options.

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Proprietary CMS

An alternative to open-source content management software are commercial CMS products built not for common use but specifically for single companies. Customers using proprietary solutions have to:

  • Purchase a license
  • Pay annual or monthly charges

What do they get?

  • An out-of-the-box system that meets the majority of company’s requirements
  • Ongoing support
  • Regular updates
  • Built-in functionality for customization

It is also possible that customers need to pay additional amounts for some extensions, technical support or training opportunities.

On-Premises CMS

This type of software is hosted on physical servers located within a company, which ensures the highest level of control over data.

On-premises solutions require large investments and organizational resources to be deployed and supported, both of which may count as disadvantages. Moreover, when hosting critical data yourself, you put it under greater risks of losing data due to human error.

Cloud-Based CMS

These solutions are hosted remotely in the cloud and delivered by suppliers virtually via the web. Cloud content management systems or Software as a Service (SaaS) CMS combines web hosting, web software components and technical support into a single unit.

The pricing model is based on subscription plans, so customers may pay for:

  • Number of users
  • Required data storage
  • Amount of transferred data

A pay-as-you-go payment model is highly popular among cloud computing customers as it is based on actual usage: the more resources you consume, the more you pay.

Cloud CMS benefits:

  • Fast implementation and deployment
  • Accessibility from any place via any device
  • No need for significant internal resources
  • Reasonable prices
  • Scalability in case your business grows
  • Ongoing professional maintenance
  • Security

Traditional CMS

The architecture of such software is based on a close connection between the backend and the frontend, which is why it is also called coupled CMS.

If you need a system for powering a website only, a traditional CMS will perfectly suit that need. But if you want to ensure a multi-channel digital presence on desktop solutions and various mobile and IoT devices, it’s insufficient. You will have to create separate templates and layout for each type of device manually and with significant revamping of the entire system structure. This method is highly expensive and time-consuming.

Headless CMS

The alternatives represented by headless CMS solutions come to the rescue. They allow for delivering digital content from a single database to various devices since there is no connection between the backend and the frontend.

Hybrid CMS

Also known as a decoupled system, a hybrid CMS combines the two previous types of architecture. It has an optional presentation layer that is separated from the backend by a set of APIs.

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Kinds of Websites You Can Build With a CMS

Some content management systems are narrowly focused, e.g. on e-Commerce. Nevertheless, most of them are rather flexile to create various types of websites:

  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Portfolios
  • Social networks
  • Online stores
  • Educational courses
  • Static sites
  • Membership systems

How to Choose a CMS?

The question now is how to find the best content management software for your organization.

There are no “good” or “bad” content management systems, there are only those that fit your company’s requirements best. The choice of CMS  usually depends on a variety of factors, such as the company’s budget, the website’s complexity, the level of technical proficiency, etc.

You should compile your personal checklist with the following points:

  • Budget
  • The type of system you need
  • The main features and functionality the system should provide

We’ve already talked about common types and functions. Now, let’s outline some features that you may consider while making a decision:

  • User roles
  • Templates
  • Possibilities for customization
  • Integration with third-party tools
  • Language options
  • SEO optimization tools
  • Web analytics
  • Backup and security
  • Customer support

Leading CMS Providers

When our customers ask us about the best CMS for websites and which ones we recommend, we always say that there is no such thing as the best software. Each system has its strengths and weaknesses.

But we can provide a review of CMS development services that satisfy a wide range of business requirements, from moderate to most exclusive ones. As it turns out, the comparison of CMS that we have prepared includes both the systems that we customize for our customers and those that are most in demand globally for building websites. Note that examples from this  compilation are simply a guide, and we’d need to have a conversation to find the CMS that perfectly suits your specific business needs.

Open-Source Content Management Systems

Open-source CMSs are more frequently used for website development than proprietary ones. WordPress, WP Engine and Drupal are the leaders with a total market share of 60%, and there are dozens of other systems, including Grav, Pimcore, Magento, TYPO3, Umbraco.

What We Offer

As an experienced developer of CMS-based websites, SaM Solutions highly recommends turning to professional service providers instead of in-house customization. Throughout our long-standing expertise in CMS development, we have seen many situations where our customers had been struggling to make quality websites on their own and needed to rely on professional help.

In-house development requires significant human capital, time and money, without  guarantee of a satisfactory outcome. Furthermore, an amateur-built website may compromise the company’s reputation, security and credibility.

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