Content management systems, or CMS, are organisational web design software for businesses with a web presence. If you have an office, you generate paperwork by writing letters, invoices, preparing sales and publicity documents, and in expanding you employ a secretary to administrate this. Then to access these, you employ another person to file and index all the copies so that you can find them again. Eventually as your business grows you increase the number of people employed to cope with the increased paperwork, and finally, since none of the individuals know more than their own sector, you take on an office manager to oversee each section.
CMS are like a virtual office manager for a web site, but in addition to doing the office manager’s job they also take on the lowly and humble tasks of creation and publishing of individual parts of the site, and of indexing and cross referencing. Of course the CMS cannot write the content of the web pages, this still has to be composed by personnel, but the formatting and layout of the original design can be imposed upon the content by the CMS, and if more than one person is involved in the inputting of data or information, the CMS can ensure a unity of presentation. This makes it possible for even a non technical person to alter content from their own computer, of a website that has been designed by a professional, which saves a lot of time and expense, particularly since the changes made by this method are applied instantly.
The information can be updated or added by any number of people, and the level of each person’s input can be password controlled, so that, for instance, individual departments can access their own pages but not those of another department, and central administration would have universal access. Pages updated in this way can be reproduced in several web locations. During this process the CMS will add Meta data to the content, which adds to the effectiveness of distribution. In some cases the CMS can even assess the type of visit to a web site, by remarking the pattern of dialogue boxes clicked, and offer different web page content depending on the nature of the interest in the web page! Pages can be programmed to appear or disappear at different times.
CMS can be tailored to suit a particular business or application, and can also be used for interactive requirements such as managing on line forms, data collection, and for e-commerce, where items might be sold, or holidays booked, on line through the web site. There are hundreds of CMS, and many of these are open source, in other words there is no licensing charge, they are free.
These open source CMS are collaborative works by experienced website designers and programmers and yet are available to the smallest web user! Because of their effectiveness and low cost the majority of CMS used are open source rather than proprietary.
As Gerry McGovern said ‘Content management is getting the right content to the right person at the right time at the right cost.’ Some of the most well known CMS systems are Drupal, Joomla and WordPress.
Read more about CMS Web Design from 1 Website Designer, based in Derbyshire, UK.