A Web Content Management System, WCMS - now almost exclusively referred to as CMS, is a software system that provides website authoring, collaboration, and administration tools designed to allow users with little knowledge of web programming languages to create and manage website content with relative ease.
CMS has been available since the late 1990s, and before that, we had to create our HTML pages manually and upload to a web server. All the information was stored in static HTML pages, and the pictures were uploaded to the same server.
Systems like Macromedia Dreamweaver, Adobe PageMill and Microsoft FrontPage were considered revolutionary at the time, as they were the first HTML editors that were considered user friendly.
Why a CMS?
Why should I use a content management system? That is a question that I still get from potential clients. The truth is, a client almost needs to feel the pain of a static website before they can fully understand and appreciate the advantages of a CMS-driven solution. A lot of our customers started with template-based systems or used very basic administrative tools to maintain their websites. These usually worked well initially, when the sites were smaller and had less content. But, over time, these sites would grow organically, and as the amount of content increased, so too did the challenges of maintaining it. What used to take just one person to manage now takes many.
You can use a CMS both for internal communication (Intranet) or public web sites (Internet) and for a business-critical partner or customer areas (Extranet).
With a CMS in place, you can make your website easier to use, less expensive to maintain, and more secure.
Here are some benefits of a basic CMS:
Keeping content controlled by the content authors frees up the developer’s time to focus on other things like the design of the front end of the website or implementation of new features and functionality.
A CMS allows you to distribute content authoring duties to different people or departments within your organisation. Many also allow you to set up workflows, approval chains, and permissions. This helps to make sure that content doesn’t appear on the website unless it has been fully approved.
A CMS can work in parallel with design efforts to force visual consistency across sections of the site. By putting style rules in place, you can make sure that things such as font sizes and colours are used universally, without regard to how many content authors you have. This keeps things looking professional and helps maintain brand unity.
A CMS provides a wide range of functionality by default, functionality that would typically cost money to build from scratch.
Many CMS platforms can securely protect your data and information about your users or members.
In a forthcoming blog post, I will take up the pros and cons of open source vs proprietary CMS.
The future of CMS
We often talk about the fact that decision-makers/users will soon be the digital natives who are used to a user interface that is similar to iPads. With the experience of when they need more features and services, they are just one click away from the App Store for downloading new software.
How will this affect the future of the ‘Digital Native’ CMS?
There are platforms that were ‘born-in-the-cloud’ and which will be much more attractive to younger users because of the simplicity to set up and maintain.
There are platforms that are transforming their technical solution and financial model to the cloud. Some systems have become longer than others.
There are platforms that have not yet begun this journey… they will probably have a tough time in the market in the near future, and you should ask yourself if this is something for your company.
So why should I use a CMS?
You should use a CMS because it will allow your organisation to have complete control over its website without the need to pay excessive and recurring development fees for almost daily, routine website updates.
Contact us at Zooma when you want to know more about how to choose the right CMS for your company.