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FREE Guide to Website Design

Content Management Systems [CMS]

Drawers of a filing cabinet labelled Text, Graphics, Animation, Audio and VideoA Content Management System [CMS] quite simply is a system that manages content.

A Content Management System is a Web tool designed to assist the non-technically minded in editing and managing the content in their Websites. CMS Websites are database-driven and referred to as 'dynamic Websites' because all their content is stored in a database.

Content management systems entail content, the management of content and the system that enables the management of content.


Content refers to the objects that give your Website a purpose; for example, text, images, graphics, video, sound, documents, records etc.  They are the visual elements that allow you to convey your message to your Website users.


Management of content involves creation, modification, organisation and removal of content.  It refers to the way information is administered using a process of steps including update, publish, translate, archive and retrieve.


The system itself is the tool or combination of tools that facilitate the management of content. The tool refers to a Web application [program] that typically runs in a browser that allows you to administrate content using a simple text editor [similar to Wordpad] and form objects [radio buttons and drop-down menus etc] which are combined in a non-technical and user-friendly interface.

Contrary to what other 'CMS selling businesses' would have you believe, a Content Management System is not an application that enables anybody to quickly and easily get a Website up and running. CMS's are designed to take the strain off Website maintenance, not the initial set-up.

When to use a CMS

There are many reasons why a content management system is a better solution to a static HTML-based Website. If you're planning a Website with lots of content, or content that is regularly added to or updated, you might want to consider using a Content Management System.  The alternative is employing the services of a Web designer/developer, each time your site needs amending.  This can prove expensive and not cost-effective if you just want to make slightly changes to text.

Consider the following questions:

  1. Does your Website have more than a few hundred pages?
  2. Do you spend too much time and money on investing into Website maintenance?
  3. Do you update your site’s content regularly or just every now and then?
  4. Does your site contain lots of broken links and out-of-date content?
  5. Is your Website/content development team dispersed over a wide area?
  6. Do you want to provide some of your visitors with access to hidden information or exclusive resources in a “member’s only" area?
  7. Do you wish to have a site that is also a powerful market research tool?
  8. Do you want to have greater control over who does what regarding the backend and/or frontend of your Website?
  9. Do you want to allow your Website users to contribute to your sites’ content?

If you answered 'Yes', a Content Management System could well suit your needs.

Why use a Content Management System

Anybody who has basic computer skills can quickly learn how to edit a Content Management System. Pages can be added or changed quickly and easily without knowing any complicated coding. CMS Websites can be edited from any computer that has an internet connection and by anybody who has access permission to the server where the site is situated.

Because CMS Website content is stored in a database away from its other files, you can not damage the sites’ design structure whilst editing its content.  If you want to change your site's appearance, you can upload a different template design to your CMS to give your Website a face lift.

Apart from zero maintenance costs, other benefits of a Content Management System include:

  • Website content security - total control over who creates, edits and publishes content.
  • High scalability - no limit to the number of pages that can be added.
  • Quick response to market - Website changes can be published immediately.
  • Search Engine Optimisation - provides easy management of metadata.
  • Page performance monitoring - the success of a Website can be continually assessed.
  • Expandable and flexible - additional modules and components can be added [for example, forums and ecommerce etc].
  • Scheduled tasking - dates and times can be specified when content is to go live, be archived or removed by the system.

How to construct a CMS Website

Whether you construct your site entirely by yourself, or hire a Content Management System developer to take care of the initial structuring and styling, using a content management system can make your site real easy to manage.

Getting everything set up properly at the start can be technically challenging, because even the simplest CMS still requires some technically know how in the early stages of development.  There are also Website design issues that need to be considered; for example search engine friendly URLs: if you want to end up with an effective Website.

I recommend that you find someone who can help you get the Content Management System up and running. They will set up the initial Website structure and provide you with a basic understanding of the CMS including how to edit your site. With some of the CMSs, you can choose from a number of different templates -- many of which are free. However, you will probably find that your desired template will require a certain amount of ‘tweaking’ before it looks and functions correctly.  A developer who already has experience in making templates and CMS modules match a particular design could prove very useful.

Where to go from here

If a Content Management System is the type of Website you are looking for and would like to find out more about CMS, visit my Joomla Websites page. If you would like to find out more about my CMS Web design service, visit my CMS package page or contact me.

Please read my service terms carefully before contacting me about undertaking design work.

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