So you’ve briefly gotten introduced to this 7 syllable phrase somewhere, or have at the very least heard it uttered from a web-savvy acquaintance of yours; and now you’re looking to learn a bit more about what it is and what it is for. The second portion of the title of this article asks, “Why Should I Want One?” But an even better question, would be, “Why Do I Need One?” Chances are, if you want to manage content on your website – that is, if you want to edit, update, or delete content on your website on a regular basis, a content management system is a need and not just a want. It is something you can’t do without if you want to make your content changes efficiently and effectively. We’ve given you a basic, colloquial description of what a CMS is, but to be more precise, let’s look at a formal definition:
A content management system, or CMS, is a web application designed to make it easy for non-technical users to add, edit and manage a website.
More and more people are turning to content management systems to help them manage their web content. Forking up the money for this functionality may cause to feel regret at first, especially if they don’t think that they’re going to update their website that often, but merely hiring a web developer to alter your content a handful of times will cost just as much as your CMS. So, in the short run, it may appear to be a superfluous expense, but in the long run, it is well worth it. Keep in mind, as well, that if you do not go with a CMS right away, a lot of times in order to include the functionality, the actual look and design of your website may have to be altered – changing the look entirely and perhaps throwing off your customer or fan-base. You want to remain familiar to your users, and drastically changing things up may not be the best way to remain as such.
Of course, you won’t need a CMS if you are willing to take the time to learn HTML and the other requisite web design languages, but that means you have to spend a bunch of time – months – trying to grok all the concepts. It takes a lot of practice – and that practice can be more time consuming than an actual job. So intellectually, it is definitely nice to have this knowledge-base under your belt, but practically, hiring someone to create a CMS for you takes up much less time.
What are the best content management systems on the market?
There are many of them out there, but we are going to focus on just 3 of them. My three favorite are:
If you are looking for an open source web content management system, then look no further than number one on that list – WordPress. WordPress is an incredibly powerful tool that is used to power nearly a fifth of the websites on the world wide web. WordPress is best used for managing smaller websites, but that’s not to say that it hasn’t been the driving force behind some of the larger websites that require a lot more bandwidth. But although WordPress does have the capability to power a large website, we highly recommend that you turn to Drupal or ExpressionEngine here. Chances are that you won’t need a website that large if you are a small to medium-sized business, and for that reason, WordPress was listed as the top dog in available content management systems.
Drupal is also free and open source. It gives just about any type of user the ability to manage and publish content onto a website with relative ease. It is fairly easy to learn, and after WordPress, the second most popular content management system. It’s name isn’t as popular as WordPress’s at the moment, but some web-gurus think that Drupal will slowly catch up to WordPress in the near future. Drupal is a lot more powerful than WordPress in terms of scalability, which is a reason why so many folks are turning to Drupal to get their website up and running. Drupal can be used for a wide variety of things; a few of them being:
- Picture Galleries
- File Uploading
- Collaborative Authoring Millieus
Much like WP, Drupal has a community of dedicated developers and users who are constantly looking for ways to upgrade the platform. With so much focus and so much emphasis put into keep things in shipshape, it is no wonder that Drupal has been such a high performing web and content management system platform.
Third on our list is ExpressionEngine, a flexible CMS that has its fair share of interesting and useful features. ExpressionEngine is pretty intuitive and fairly easy to learn. ExpressionEngine, just like Drupal, is known for being very scalable. For the most part, whatever you can do with Drupal, you can also do with ExpressionEngine. The only major downside to ExpressionEgine is that it costs money for the full version, but this shouldn’t be a problem for folks who are willing to exchange value for value – money for an incredibly powerful tool that can make life so much easier.
So Why Should I Want A CMS?
The number of reasons why are legion.
- Ease of Use (no requisite knowledge of programming is needed
- Dynamic Page Management
- Multiple User Capabilities
- Search Engine Friendly
- Info Stored In Database
- Customization Capabalities (plug-ints, cascading style sheets, etc.)
Without a CMS, your website is basically nothing but an e-business card. If all you want are a few static pages, like a welcome page and an about page, then forgo the costs and do without a CMS. If you want something dynamic, something where you can add, edit and delete content on the regular, something that can help you interact with your users, you need a CMS. Content management systems have been a boon for the web illiterate, making website management something that anybody with a pulse can do.