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What is a CMS?

Our Digital Marketing Basics series explains common digital marketing concepts in plain English.

As part of our Digital Marketing Basics series, we’re going to delve into a digital marketing concept that can sound daunting at first: A CMS. It’s one of those acronyms that gets bandied around by web developers and agency folk that isn’t immediately obvious what it is. So, what is a CMS and why on earth do you need one?

What is a CMS?

CMS stands for Content Management System. Your Content Management System is there to help you edit content on a web-based platform (like your website). Comentum’s definition is a good starting point – but we’ll be sure to break it down into human-speak for you:

The definition of a CMS is an application (more likely web-based), that provides capabilities for multiple users with different permission levels to manage (all or a section of) content, data or information of a website project, or internet/intranet application.

What are some example CMSs?

There are lots of different CMSs to try, each with their own unique benefits. Some of the big hitters include:

  • WordPress – A good all rounder and great starter CMS. Can fall down on more complex builds but for most website functionalities, WordPress is a good starting point.
  • Drupal – Becoming increasingly popular, Drupal is a high functioning CMS that offers multiple capabilities, however, its user interface isn’t as intuitive as WordPress.
  • Magento – Is often considered the best platform for eCommerce sites
  • Umbraco – Another good all rounder

Drupal, Magento and WordPress offer free versions of their services, but Umbraco only offers a 14-day trial before it starts to charge its users. We’re WordPress fans at Matchstick Creative. Not only is it inexpensive in it’s most advanced form, but it is super user-friendly, easy to install, and incredibly fun to work with. If you want to manage content in a simple and enjoyable way, then WordPress is a great place to get started.

Why are CMSs useful?

There are quite a few benefits to using a CMS to manage your content, particularly over raw code:

  • Easily edit and manage content independent of a web developer or your agency
  • Providing different permission levels to different users
  • Updating plugins and software easily
  • Create stunning looking websites with easy to download themes

WordPress, in particular, is a brilliant CMS to use, mainly because of the sheer volume of plugins that extend its default functionality. Side note: plugins are extra modules you can add to your basic WordPress site to increase its functionality. For example, you could download a calendar plugin to help manage room bookings for an events venue site.

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