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CMS Guide


It is easy to say that a content management system or CMS does exactly as it says on the tin: it stores and manages content.

Content can be created, edited, published, viewed and stored although not necessarily in that order. It can be updated as part of a series of revisions or removed altogether.

The right CMS for the right job

It is important that you understand about the type of content you wish to manage, the processes you need to do so and the end result/s. This will help you to trawl through the numerous options available to find the right system for you.

The type of content will determine the type of CMS.

Another issue is usability. There are some systems which are easier to use and further develop, mainly due to the efficiency of the software.

Types of CMS

There are different types of CMS for different types of content. The nature of the content or ‘digital record’ e.g. video, text, graphics, blog etc dictates the type of CMS which means that there are numerous options to choose from.


A web content management system (WCMS) enables a user to create or amend a web page without the need for the requisite technical skills.


These systems or ‘enterprise content management systems’ (ECMS) handle the content, assets, records and other information which defines the structure and hierarchy of an organisation.


Mobile content management systems (MCMS) were originally designed for the business to customer (B2C) market but have expanded to include business to business (B2B) and business to employee (B2E).


Component content management systems (CCMS) are a specialist type of system which manages content at a deeper or ‘granular’ level.

Open source CMS

The popularity of open source systems such as WordPress and Joomla are increasing all the time; this is due to their cost-effectiveness, ease of use and access to help from a community which is linked to that particular brand of CMS.

The beauty of an open source CMS is easy access to the source code, low cost/free, stability, community support and the option to extend the functionality via a series of add on’s. Examples of add on’s include a blog, wiki, form, RSS feed, tags etc.

The most popular open source CMS are:

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Drupal
  • Mambo
  • Plone
  • CMS Made Simple
  • Advantages of open source CMS

    There are several advantages to using an open source system which include:

    Low cost: the source code can be obtained for free and the support provided with this system is often cheaper than a commercial CMS.

    Flexible and easy to customise: the easy availability of the code means that the system can be adapted to fit any business requirement.

    Support: solutions to CMS problems can be found via a community of developers who provide advice on any issue.

    Open platform: an open source system is designed using any open programming language such as Java, Python, PHP etc. These popular software platforms have a wealth of support and information accompanying them which is accessible to the developer and content editor alike.

    Ability to share resources: an open source CMS enables the ability to share resources between companies and large organisations such as public sector bodies. The benefits of doing so are distributed between these companies which save time, reduce costs and boosts productivity.

    Integration: the ability to extend and personalise an open source CMS means that it can be integrated with other software, for example XML.

    Trial evaluation: these systems can be downloaded for evaluation purposes before implementation. This enables the developer to fully test the system and to compare it with others before making a decision. Further comments in the form of feedback can be obtained from the community support.

    Instant error resolution: these systems by their very nature are open to the opinions of their support community. So if a problem arises a member of the community will offer a solution to the problem. Open access to the source code means that very often, the problem can be resolved by the developer.

    Commercial CMS

    Commercial or propriety systems are still a popular choice of CMS for many people who are reassured by the technical support, service level agreements, safety and security.

    There is also the fact that many commercial systems are already ready-built which means that they are quicker to implement than many open source systems. These systems tend to be well established which means that they show signs of longevity and have a solid, reliable and professional feel to them.

    Advantages of a commercial CMS

  • Stability
  • Usability
  • Support and advice
  • Documentation
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