What is a Content Management System?
A Content Managament System is a digital system that allows you to organize, categorize, structure and sort information, instead of contacting directly to a database. It fills the gap between the technical and non-technical users, allowing them to add, edit or remove content at their will.
Some CMSs have gone even further beyond, allowing you to free yourself from having to code a web page from scratch, like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, Magento, Prestashop, and so on. These are full-stack CMSs, and the most common type of web-based CMS. They save a lot of time as they have templates that you can use to customize the web to your needs, and plugins to get the functionality you might need for your webpage, from integrating Analytics to share buttons and live chats.
There are many smaller parties that still offer closed systems, but this development is slowing down as the companies that offer such services can in no way stand comparison with the big international giants when it comes to product development and innovation.
What to keep in mind when choosing?
Content Management Systems are differently equipped with different features and plugins that are useful in web development. Some content management systems are very user-friendly and easy to use, but are rather limited when it comes to custom solutions.
The most important thing when choosing a CMS is to know what kind of content you want to administrate. Is your main goal to keep track of products in a shop? You should seek for a shop-oriented CMS then. Do you want to put a lot of articles, like a blog? A blog-oriented CMS will do then.
Why is WordPress so popular?
The WordPress content management system is the largest in the world today and offers a good interplay of possibilities and user-friendliness, where programmers can make complex changes and a person with limited technical knowledge can make simple changes and take care of daily operations such as e.g. insertion of content.
WordPress has many more possibilities than e.g. Wix, SquareSpace or Shopify, since it’s more flexible by not defining itself as just one type of CMS, and is therefore a much more powerful content management system. You can choose different themes that often make work much easier but can also be restrictive, so you need to look at all the needs carefully before choosing a theme.
We at Basic mostly use WordPress because it gives us flexibility when it comes to features and design, allowing us to prototype fast and deliver in time.
Functionality and custom construction
Some companies require custom solutions on their websites. They may want powerful search engines to browse data or special interactive features. This type of activity often requires a lot of work and requires testing. Here it is important to choose the right foundation (content management system and theme) before getting started.
When we talk about site content, we mean everything it contains. Most often it is text and images, but it can also be videos, documents or files. It can take a lot of time to upload content to the website and this is often a very underestimated tool in web design.
Moreover, it is not enough just to simply put all the content in. You need to adapt and optimize the content to the content management system you are using and make it web-friendly. For example, if you upload a lot of large images, your web page will be heavy and take longer to load. Same goes for videos: if you just upload your videos as they come out of your camera, it will be slow to load, and will consume precious resources you could spend on a better experience for your users. Content optimization is a must nowadays, as more people is on a mobile network on their phones, and it’s something that you have to get right.
Apart from content optimization, search engines like Google need to know how to interpret the content of your website. Most content management systems include tools or add-ons to help users with search engine optimization, including WordPress e.g. with the Yoast system which is a much more powerful addition than the other systems offer.
- Know your business: Keep your needs in mind before choosing a content management system. The simpler the system, the quicker and cheaper it is to install, but keep in mind the limitations that exist.
- Don’t be afraid of requesting help: If you are not sure, get advice. It will be more expensive to get started and hope for the best.
- Plan ahead: Consider the cost carefully, it can be tempting to subscribe to sites for a low monthly fee but can be more expensive in the long run and subject to more restrictions.
- Avoid the so-called Vendor Lock-in: Do not lock yourself in a closed system as you will not be able to change service providers without starting from scratch.