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A content management system is a software package that allows people without coding knowledge to create content for a website. It does this by providing an online interface for writing content, separated from the task of developing the website’s layout and aesthetics. Between half and two thirds of all websites are built with a CMS platform of some sort. The rest are either static websites with no dynamic functionality, or their dynamic elements are hand crafted from scratch (or a programming framework).

A CMS lowers costs for your business and empowers you. You can add content or change contact details in-house, without being nickel and dimed by the web developer who created your website.

Using a CMS

The basic process of operating most modern content management systems is as follows:

  • You login to the backend with a username and password.
  • You write some content using an editor, usually a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. The WYSIWYG editor has an interface similar to office packages like Microsoft Word and Libre Office.
  • Once you’ve written the content, you save it.
  • The CMS writes the content to a database.
  • When a website viewer visits your web page, the CMS server scripts retrieves the content you wrote from the database and turns it into a web page.

The CMS market

By far the most popular content management system in the world is WordPress. About 27% of all websites on the internet are built with WordPress. We use WordPress to build most of our client websites. Lagging far behind, the next most popular CMS are Joomla and Drupal. All these systems are open source, meaning they are free and anyone can contribute to the code base.

Apart from the most popular solutions, some developers offer their own proprietary CMS or will build one from scratch for your website. We don’t recommend going down this route because:

  • You pay to develop a lot of components from scratch which don’t need to be.
  • You are locked into the developer who created the CMS. This is a primary motivation for any developer trying to sell you their own proprietary CMS.

Further Reading

Read more about content management systems at the Wikipedia content management system article.

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