What is CMS: Steward of the Content Universe

Andrii Mazur
Author at ApiX-Drive
Reading time: ~6 min

A business that is not represented on the Internet ceases to exist for the outside world. Therefore, the owner or manager of a business simply has to understand at least the general principles of working with information on the Internet.

1. Why use a CMS
2. What are CMS
3. CMS or website builder?
4. How to choose CMS
5. Conclusion. What is the best CMS

If for passive consumption of information it is enough to be able to use search sites, then for active promotion and development you need to figure out how to upload information to the network, its correct presentation, management and editing. To solve these problems, special programs are used – content management systems (CMS).

Why use a CMS

A content management system is the first thing a person or a business representative will have to think about if he is going to present himself or his business on the Internet. Let's make an assumption right away that activity in social networks is taken out of the scope of our conversation. This is a slightly different topic. Although related to the one under discussion.

So, CMS is a set of software tools for creating a website. After the site is created, the CMS is used for what is written in its name – filling and content management.

The most important feature of any CMS is that it allows you to create a website and manage its content without special knowledge in the field of information technology. An example is driving a car in uncomplicated conditions. The driver does not need to know too much about the engine, transmission, etc. In the same way, he may not delve into the design of the road surface, the principles of arranging road signs and traffic lights.

It is enough to understand the simple control interface of the machine (steering wheel, pedals, lever and buttons). Well, it is very desirable to learn the rules of the road. Which, you see, is also not from the field of astrophysics and quantum theory. After mastering this knowledge, a novice driver can safely take to the road. If he behaves prudently, he can drive without accidents and communication with the police for many years.

The same is true with a content management system. CMS becomes a translator between the user and the scary world of programming languages, scary acronyms like HTML, CSS, JavaScript files, etc. A person inexperienced in IT gets the opportunity to work with buttons in a graphical interface, and not with Sumerian cuneiform codes.

Content Management System Admin Panel

Of course, not a single CMS will relieve you of the need to strain your brain at the study stage. But these efforts are a hundred times more justified than mastering even one simple programming language from scratch.

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And one more note at the end of this section - CMS in colloquial speech is often called the "engine".

What are CMS

There are various criteria by which CMS are classified.

For example, they can be divided according to the possibility of application for different purposes.

  • Universal CMS – they can create and administer sites for any purpose. On the one hand, it's convenient. Having mastered one system, you can use your knowledge for other tasks. However, universality leads to the fact that in the capabilities of a universal CMS there will be a lot of superfluous when solving a narrow task. For example, creating a website for an online store. The situation is about the same as with the Word text editor. He has great potential. You can perform a simple layout of a publication for printing, prepare a mailing list, merge data from different programs. But how often does the reader use at least a quarter of this potential? Examples of universal CMS – WordPress, Drupal.
  • Specialized CMS – adapted to create specific sites – Internet commerce or a personal blog. Examples: OpenCart is focused on e-commerce. Dotclear – for blogs, SMF – for forums.
Example CMS – WordPress

Move on with money criterion. Here, at first glance, everything is simple. However, a skeptic may remark: "Free cheese only happens in a mousetrap." I talk about the pros and cons of both options.

  • Free CMS – they use open source. That is, anyone can view, study, make changes to the CMS. The positive side of open-source CMS is that they have a huge selection of plugins, extensions and other tools created by enthusiasts. You can always choose what is suitable for a specific site, a specific task. The negative side is that there is no technical support (although you can always ask for help on the forum). Examples – WordPress, Joomla.
  • Paid CMS – first of all, the positive features include the availability of technical support. Installation, debugging, setting up all the subtleties - the developer is responsible for everything. This greatly accelerates the launch of a new site. We mention the best functionality of such a system for specific tasks, where universality is more of a hindrance. Indeed, in the ideal case, it can generally be written “from scratch” for a specific task of the customer. Now about the "cons". For a specific cost, the customer will receive a very specific set of tools. Yes, they will be updated by the developer. But to install something that is not included in the original set of tools – only for extra money! Then, a good CMS license is usually for one site. What if the expansion of the business requires another online store?

As for security, there are no fundamental differences between paid and free CMS. For a real hacker, it doesn't matter which CMS to hack. Against small dirty tricks, you can always add additional protection.  In fact, you should increase your security protocols in all places that collect and store customer data, like your website. At Intruder, you’ll find a website security scanner that reduces your risk of cyberattacks and protects your reputation at the same time.  

CMS or website builder?

Another type of software designed for creating websites and managing content should be mentioned. These are the so-called website builders. Although a website builder solves the same tasks as a CMS, its capabilities are much less. However, for a beginner in website building, working with a website builder will be a great workout. And another feature of website builders. This is a typical example of software as a service (SAAS). Its essence is that the user receives at his disposal the software he needs from the provider. Moreover, the latter takes care of all the concerns about the smooth operation of such. For their efforts, the provider asks the user for some regular payment (and sometimes it does not require anything).

Providers often offer customers who buy hosting from them free use of a website builder. And one of the most famous representatives of this type of software is Wix. It makes it possible to create websites of various kinds, offers hundreds of themes for website design. A whole arsenal of plugins has been written for Wix. If necessary, tools for small businesses are offered - CRM, mailing by e-mail, chat, etc. Wix's main competitor in the market is Squarespace website builder.

How to choose CMS

We will offer a few tips for beginners.

  • The most general advice – choose what is cheaper and will achieve the goal;
  • You can achieve your goal with most CMS;
  • Pay attention to the possibilities of CMS integration with other systems and services;
  • In most situations, it's better to start a project using a generic CMS;
  • Choose a free CMS. For example, to create an online store, consider specialized but free OpenCart;
  • Everything can be hacked, paid CMS or free. It's like with infectious diseases. Compliance with elementary rules of hygiene and prevention in 90% allows you to avoid the disease. In the case of working with the site – update the software in time, think about additional protection.

And, to end the story, take a look at the statistics of the use of various types of CMS. And it will become clear which of them should be devoted to a separate post.

Conclusion. What is the best CMS

Content management systems represent a vast sector of information technology. Without CMS, it is impossible to conduct business on the Internet, promote goods and services through the company's website. Therefore, understanding the ideology of CMS, their role in the functioning of the company, have become vital skills for everyone involved in building a business.


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