CMS - Content Management System

Categories :

Search :

CMS - Content Management System

What is CMS and Why Is It Essential?

A Content Management System (‘CMS’) is a program that allows lay administrators with no programming and coding skills to effectively manage website content without the assistance of professionals. A CMS will usually come with a security facility that allows password log-ins that may or may lead to different levels of permissions for changing the design, layout and content of the website. For example, as with the operating system running on any computer, administrators can edit existing content while others can only create new content.

A CMS may contain existing templates or allow users to save templates in order to facilitate the quick reproduction of similar pages. It may allow different sections of the site to be changed instantaneously. Many CMS’s allow add-ons or plug-ins that expand the functionality of the site. A company website may incorporate add-ons such as blogs, e-newsletter listings, video posts and others. An effective CMS allows repetitive tasks to be automated and a good level of personalisation and frequent updates.

Hence CMS’s reduce the need for professional editing and updating of websites, thereby reducing longer term costs. Updating content and providing some industry news is ubiquitous to websites and hence, any business can have a use for an CMS.

Thousands of different CMS’s exist, many of these open source, for example specialist industries such as the defence industry may require personally developed CMS’s that are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Others may find that an open source CMS that has been adapted to their organisation’s needs by a developer to be sufficient.


Popular Open Source Content Management Systems and Feature Comparison

Joomla! is one of the most widely used open source CMS applications. From blogging to online magazines to corporate websites and even intranets, Joomla! is highly adaptable and backed by a large online community supplying templates, plug-ins, modules, components for additional customisation. Joomla! counts the United Nations websites to be among its users. It even allows the building of powerful online applications. While free templates are available, so are paid ones which tend to be superior to the free templates. Vested with an online support group and community, Joomla! is suitable for use when it comes to enterprises large and small and is a favourite among end users as well as web developers.

Wordpress is the most popular blog CMS in the world. Originally intended only for blogging use, its popularity propelled its evolution to a fully functioning content-driven application. Like Joomla! Wordpress has a large online community that provides free and commercial templates, plug-ins, different modules and components to support customisation. Wordpress is more user-friendly than Joomla!, on a general level Joomla! is more powerful and suited to adaption by developers.

Drupal is another very popular CMS application. From blogs to online communities, Drupal is a powerful tool that is simpler to use than Joomla! Among its users are and Like Wordpress and Joomla!, Drupal appeals to both developers and lay users. The latter can make use of its easy installation and administration while the former will find its range of sophisticated programming options attractive. Different individual user accounts with varying privilege levels can be registered. Plug-ins, modules, news aggregators and discussion capabilities, and extended functionality are all available.

Movable Type is a powerful CMS application that allows the building of blogs, websites and social networks virtually overnight. It has a strong blog function that many sites use to create content-driven commercial websites, and can be compared to Wordpress in this sense. Moveable Type allows multiple weblogs, asset and file managers, user and user role management, and templates that are customisable. Its templating system is user friendly and very flexible, and like WordPress, its custom fields are easy to create. Multiple blogs are easy to set up. However compared with Joomla!, Drupal or Wordpress, its plug-in selection is limited because of its smaller user community and has very little plug-in choice for E-Commerce sites. Users of Movable Type will also find their choice of themes limited.

b2evolution is a weblog driven CMS that allows different skins and themes. Like the other popular open source application, b2evolution comes with the option of newsfeeds and photostreams. Although it is similar to typepad and other webbased blogging platforms, b2evolution differs in that it can be downloaded and installed to be applied on individual websites. b2evolution runs on PHP/mySQL and so is more accessible than Movable Type in this regard. The advantage of b2evolution are that it allows for simple installation, multiple users and skins, languages, multilingual support, and a plug-in system.

Alfresco is a very powerful CMS system that integrates additional and optional document management features. There are two version of Alfresco and both are open source. Alfresco Community is 100 per cent open source and very easy to use while Alfresco Enterprise comes with commercial support and enterprise extensions. The Community version is recommended for non-commercial application or for developers as it does not come with support. Alfresco Enterprise allows document management, capturing, sharing, retaining of content, CMS, records management, compliance, multi-user CMS, and a huge range of support and customisation options. Alfresco Enterprise is still much cheaper than customer designed corporate CMS’s as users only pay for support and extension – the software itself is open source.

These are five of the most popular or usable CMS’s. Other well-known and reputable CMS’s include Plone, e107, mambo, symphony, and frog, which each have their own unique modules and characteristics. There are critical issues to consider whether to use a customised or bespoken CMS or adapt an open source application to an individual or organisation’s needs.


Pros and Cons of Open Source & Bespoke

Open source applications require zero initial outlay. CMS’s that are 100 per cent custom designed can cost hundred of thousands of pounds. For some, like Alfresco, users will need to pay for support and any customisation. Others, like Joomla! and Wordpress, have a huge range of themes and plug-ins that can suit an organisation’s needs. However, it is useful to remember for a commercial website that installation and configuration will require some expertise. The last thing a start-up would want to face is the prospect of having a website that does not work. CMS applications may be billed as very user-friendly but even then one coding problem can send the website offline. Any CMS must be set up and configured to an individual or company’s particular needs.

If a company or individual website owner has is required to make make any sort of systematic changes to the website in the future, it is advisable to engage the services of a developer to customise a portion of the CMS for the specific needs of the company from the outset. In the event that there are any issues with the website in the future, a web developer familiar with the company’s website is available for support, averting the need to contact another developer who may not have the same level of familiarity with the existing website and its coding.

A bespoken CMS will usually include some user training and support. This assists organisations make a quicker start as staff will tend to already have some familiarity with the CMS.

From time to time, a CMS may also need to be upgraded with software patches. Depending on the particular website and application, this may be a complicated process. Having a bespoken website rather than a template site makes downtime and unforeseen issues less likely.

The broad installation basis of open source systems can present another benefit. Having a broad user base and utilised more broadly, these CMS’s tend to be tested more often and updated with error or bug fixes. In this way, open source systems may offer much more stability and optimised performance. By the same token, because plug-ins for open source software can be developed and sourced by anyone, platform and system instability can result as there are no commercial guarantees and warranties for open source products.

Having a CMS customised will improve web security. A professional web developer can install processes and security patches into the system and assist with registering a fixed number of users with varying security levels. This assists with preserving data integrity - including the private data of an organisation’s customers. However, open source CMS application systems can ceased at any time. Having no solid commercial basis, any open source system is liable to loss of interest.


Conclusion: Reaping Benefits!

In conclusion, CMS’s are very important for individuals and companies seeking to update their websites on a regular basis. An effective CMS will also allow the company to communicate regularly with potential customers, update their page with news, and even receive customer feedback. Many open source CMS applications are available for free use without payment for license. There are enormous benefits and limitations of open source CMS applications. For example, open source CMS systems do not come automatically with personalised functions. This can present technical challenges where commercial application in highly specialised industries is required. Where an individual or organisation is seeking to have a website designed, an optimal balance between cost and reliability may be to have a professional website designer customise and redesign a CMS, even if they are seeking to use an open source application for as a CMS.

Author: Amy Chen
Source: Internal
Posted on: February 16th, 2011
Category: CMS

How much did you like this article on scale of 1 to 10?

| Share