What is a CMS? AKA Why so many acronyms?

CM-WHO?

Once you know that the acronym (in this context) stands for content management system it starts to make more sense. Essentially a CMS is a software application that helps people put digital content online. It helps people create and modify content in user friendly ways – often without having to know any client or server-side code.

In a basic sense CMS has two parts – the part that creates the content and the part that delivers it. The most user friendly CMS have a user interface that encourages easy content creation – buttons in place of code.

There are plenty of different CMS out there and they all focus on different elements of content creation or delivery. WordPress is a particularly popular CMS that currently backs 30% of the web. Why? Because it’s user friendly and extremely widely supported.

It’s all about support.

A CMS like Drupal is very focused on custom development and while there are free starter themes it is a much longer journey from beginner to sweet looking website. Drupal, Joomla and WordPress all have significant followings but it has to be said that the lion share of the easy to use and follow themes, plugins and how-to’s are very WordPress-centric.

It really comes down to what your goals are. If you plan to oversee your website yourself there are a few different systems you could consider. Planning to DIY the whole way narrows your options considerably unless you plan to invest heaps of time into it or have the knack or existing skills.

Which CMS to Use?

Shortly we’ll publish a comparison of the most popular content management options. Hopefully it’ll provide you some clarity regarding the differences and how they may or may not work for you.

Another approach is to check out websites you’d like to emulate. After all, imitation = flattery. Many websites will say in the footer what content management system, if any, they are using. If you see one that you like that lacks any clear indication of platform a service like WhatCMS can tell you exactly what CMS is in use. Simply click on that link and paste in the URL.

Do I need one?

No.

Ok. So the complete answer is a little longer than that. It’s hard to think of a situation that can only be done with an existing content management system. In truth you don’t need one. On the flip-side it’s not hard to think of many that are easier, more flexible, more stable, more future-proof and the list could go on.

The best place to start is what you’d like to achieve with your website. Is it a blog? Then chances are you want something like WordPress. Is it a single page online business card? It could be custom HTML/CSS, WordPress, Joomla, Facebook…

Take number85 for example: this is a WordPress site. hosting.number85.io, however, is not. They look very similar, right? They’re even interlinked, but they perform different functions and therefore are designed in different ways.

Find out where you want to end up and make choices from that perspective. You may have to make some changes or concessions along the way but that approach will get you closest to where you want to go.

Hop on over to our contact form and drop us a line if you need help finding out where your site is headed.

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