What is a Content Management System (or CMS)?

A content management system (CMS) is what allows you to edit the content of your website without requiring any knowledge of HTML or web development. It is a software tool that is built into the website during development, though you can also add one to an existing website at a later date if required.

What are Some Popular CMSs?

The most popular, and the one you are likely to have heard of, is WordPress. Others include Joomla, Drupal, Magento, ModX, OpenCart and many more. Most websites use a CMS these days, and if you want to offer any kind of advanced functionality like an ecommerce website then you will definitely need one.

How Do I Know Which CMS to Use?

It’s not always easy to decide which CMS is right for you. The first thing to do is get some advice from a web developer, or someone with knowledge in the area. If you’re looking for an ecommerce website then you’ll probably need something like Magento, OpenCart or, for smaller websites, WordPress running WooCommerce. If you don’t need an online shop, then you have a wider choice. WordPress is the most popular and most user-friendly CMS (so long as the theme is developed properly), but there are plenty of others if you have a particular preference. All of the CMSs mentioned so far are ‘open source’ CMSs, meaning they are free to distribute and update. There are also proprietary or bespoke CMSs that are charged for on an upfront and/or annual licensing basis.

Do I Need a Proprietary/Bespoke CMS?

Is most cases, no. The vast majority of small businesses or organisations don’t need a proprietary CMS unless they have a very specific set of requirements that cannot be met with any of the open-source CMSs. A proprietary CMS is developed privately, usually by a team of in-house developers. As a result, the development and upkeep costs can be very high, and security updates can sometimes take longer to roll out, especially if they are required over a weekend or out of office hours.

What’s the Difference Between a Bespoke Website/Theme and a Bespoke CMS?

A bespoke website can be built on any platform, whether it’s an open-source or bespoke/proprietary CMS, or without a CMS at all. It just means that the website itself has been custom designed and developed for you.

What is an Open-Source CMS?

An open-source CMS is the opposite of a proprietary CMS – this means that the source code is open to everyone and free to distribute. Unlike bespoke CMSs, which often have very large licensing costs and expensive support, open-source CMSs are usually free to distribute, with free security updates, and other new features that are added on a regular basis. How can something free be better than a paid-for product? Well, it’s community-supported, which means that the developers and support network volunteer their time because they love working with the software in question. If you calculated the man-hours spent in developing something like WordPress it would soon become one of the most expensive products on earth! Fortunately, WordPress is so popular that geeks and nerds willingly give their spare time to developing it in exchange for being part of a community of like-minded developers all looking to help.

Should I Use WordPress?

It’s a good question – should you use WordPress over other content management systems (CMSs)? Generally speaking, WordPress is the most user-friendly, best supported, most flexible and most future-proof CMS. The popular plugin library is the biggest of its kind, allowing you to offer advanced functionality and integrate with third party services with ease. It’s increasingly becoming the platform of choice for many organisations and brands, and we’ve even published a list of the Top 10 Global Brands Using WordPress. However, it’s not the only option, and if you’re still not sure what to do, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to advice you of the best fit for your requirements.