What is a Content Management System (CMS) and which is the best one for my website/blog?

In the world of websites and CMS, how do you know which one is best for you? This is a basic overview to help you decide which is best for you.

Written By Vera Evans

On 01/07/2019
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The topic of getting a website for your business is raised quite a bit. I’ve written about it a couple of times as well. See here. This article is the second in a series of How to create a successful website. The first article was How To Plan for a Successful Website. Working out what CMS you want to use for your website is part of the process that can be confusing for new business owners. Below you will discover what a CMS is and how to choose the best CMS to suit your business needs.

Introduction to What is a CMS (Content Management System)

How do you work out which is the best CMS for your business website/blog that you want to build? Well, first you need to know what a CMS is. A CMS or Content Management System basically allows users to create, edit and publish content on their website. This is usually digital content and includes text, images, audio and video files as well as graphics and code. The CMS chosen highly depends on what the content is used for. Different business websites require different functionality, so identifying the best solution for your business upfront, can save a lot of headache down the track. Your choice will depend on your business goals, budget, technical expertise and the purpose of the website.

In this article, I will discuss the main types of CMSs. Which ones are the most well-known, explain some terminology and provide a recommendation for the best CMS (in my opinion) to use if you are building a business website/blog.

Types of CMS (Content Management Systems)

CMS

While there are hundreds of CMSs they all fall into two categories. Namely, Open Source and Proprietary. These CMSs also have varying levels of complexity in using them. Some are very user-friendly and easy to use, while others are more advanced. You may need some technical knowledge and ability to use them. (See this article for more info).

Open source CMS

Open source CMS means the program code is freely available and can be accessed by anyone. These are popular Content Management Systems and are usually developed and maintained by a community of developers who constantly work on developing and improving the platform. Furthermore, opensource platforms have large developer bases that work on creating and developing plugins and extensions for additional functionality on these platforms. These CMSs are often easy to use and are popular amongst bloggers and other DIY users.
Examples of open source CMSs are:

  • WordPress,
  • Joomla and
  • Drupal.

Proprietary CMS

Proprietary CMS solutions are licenced and paid for solutions. They are usually developed by a company and are often used in specific industries, eg medical practices, beauty salons, accounting software, etc. These are often COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) solutions that are paid for by a one-off licence or a regular recurring licence yearly or monthly. They can also be highly customisable solutions for different industries. Examples of proprietary CMS are:

  • Xero (accounting software),
  • Wix, Weebly, Squarespace (website management software) and
  • Active Campaign (CRM and email responder software).

Additional Useful Information for CMS

To understand all this further, It helps if you understand the different terminology that comes with content management systems.

Domain name

The domain name is the address on the internet. It is unique to the user/business that is using the domain name. You first have to have a domain name before you can get hosting for that domain name. An example is www.abccompany.com. The letters that come after the name, such as .com, .com.au, .co, .biz etc often relate to the country of the domain or the type of website.

Hosting

Hosting is where a website and all it’s content is kept. There are many types of hosting available and it is important to do your research to find the best hosting that suits your business or personal needs.

The most popular is Shared Hosting. This is where there are many websites on one server and they all share the server’s resources. This is usually a good option for a new start-up business. It does not require a lot of technical knowledge to use.

Dedicated Server Hosting is when you rent a server specifically for your website and your website is the only one using it. It is a more expensive option but the benefits are having more control over the server and it’s functionality as well as being the only website using the resources. This is the best option if speed is essential. The website owner has all the control but a high level of technical expertise is required for this option.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting is where a server is divided into virtual servers, giving website owners more control over their server but it is still shared with other users. This is ideal for users who want dedicated hosting but do not have the technical knowledge to implement it.

Cloud Hosting is where many computers work together, running applications using combined computing resources. This means more than one web server is used and allows for scalability for websites that grow a lot.

Finally, Managed Hosting. This forms the majority of the hosting services you will find online. The hosting company provides, amongst other things, technical services such as hardware and software set-up and configuration. Also maintenance and technical support. WordPress is a sub-category of managed hosting and many hosting companies specialise in providing managed services for WordPress.

Information obtained by Techradar

Plugins

Plugins are pieces of software in the WordPress space that provide additional functionality to a CMS. They are very popular options, especially if a website owner is not a developer or someone who knows how to code. The functionality plugins can provide range from backing up websites to installing some code on your website. A word of caution here, while plugins are extremely useful and many of them are free, by using too many plugins on your website, you run the risk of slowing down the website load time and thus losing visitors to your site due to the slow load time.

Conclusion – The best CMS (Content Management System) in my opinion

WordPress is a well-known Content Management System and I believe it is the best CMS. It is a cost-effective solution for small businesses as well as bloggers and other DIY business people. It’s relatively easy to use and has the largest percentage of websites built on it on the internet (approximately 35%). It’s also popular because it’s free to use. Business owners can have a website presence without dishing out large amounts of cash. There are heaps of resources and tutorials available on WordPress, which makes it even more appealing. One such site is WPBeginner. It’s one of the best and clearest I have found. It has blog posts, tutorials, newsletters and special deals for people who sign up to their email list.

It is also easy to find a wealth of information regarding the additional aspects of building a website, no matter what CMS you use. All the major search engines have excellent results that provide in-depth information from beginner level to the very advanced level.

And remember, once your website is built, your work is not over. See here.