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What Is A CMS (Content Management System).

What Cms
Caution! This article is 9 years old, and our opinions may have changed.

“Content Management System” or “CMS” is one of those unfortunate phrases that has a slightly different definition depending on which industry you’re in or who you ask. This article is going to be defining CMS’s from the perspective of the web design and development industry. As this is where the CMS is, arguably, most discussed, to the extent that it’s hard to spend more than half an hour reading about web development without coming across the term at least once.

So What Is A Content Management System?

In the simplest terms a content management system is the system used to manage the content of a website. Emphasis on the content, as contrary to what many believe, a CMS it’s not a design framework or design tool per se. Although saying that, some CMS’s, especially in recent years, are pushing to offer a greater number design features/options too.

Generally, a CMS is made up of two parts: the content management application (CMA) and the content delivery application (CDA).

The CMA part gives a person who doesn’t happen to be a black belt in HTML and CSS the ability to create, modify and/or remove content from a site. In other words, it enables them do things like change a title or add a blog post without having to dive into the guts (HTML/CSS) of the site.

The CDA element uses and compiles that information to update the site. The features of a CMS vary, but most include at the very least web-based publishing, format management, revision control, indexing, search, and retrieval systems (but all of that is taken care of behind the scenes, without the user having to do anything).

As a whole, the CMS usually has an attractive and easy to understand interface which allows non-technical people the ability to easily and efficiently do whatever they need do, be that adding an image to a page or removing a whole section of their site.

So, which CMS’s do we use and recommend?

Expression Engine, mainly due to the fact that we've been using it for years and already have built add-ons to the CMS. This means there is no limits to what we can offer clients, there's no restrictions in the design / dev stage whereas there would be restrictions with the likes of Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal etc.

And a new favourite of ours is Craft, with some very impressive new features and plug-ins that will benefit us as the developer as well as the client and their business.

Wordpress is very popular. A demonstration of its popularity is in the fact that 18.9% of all self-hosted sites on the web use Worpress. Yes, you read that correctly. But we don't recommend Wordpress here at Shape, and you can read why we prefer not to work with Wordpress.

I hope this article has helped you understand what the constantly mentioned three letter acronym “CMS” is and what it does.

Co-Founder of MadeByShape. Most of my blogs are about business related aspects, not just web design.