What is a content management system?

Published: 24 June 2009
A content management system (CMS) is a platform that hosts one or more websites and provides businesses with the flexibility to update their own content and images without incurring the additional fees involved with employing a web administrator to do it for them.

With nothing more than a PC, laptop or Mac, a web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.) and an internet connection, you can access your control panel (or "back end") of your website with your own username and password. Once logged in you can add new content, edit existing information and upload images and files (e.g. PDF documents) to your website to ensure that your site is kept up to date at all times.

What is the difference between a static website and a website running on a CMS platform?

Static websites are made up of a series of individual pages that are often very time consuming to keep up to date and also require additional software (e.g. Microsoft Publisher, Macromedia Dreamweaver or Contribute) licenses or FTP access to up/download files to and from a server. CMS driven websites are structured and are specifically engineered to minimise the amount of "editing" time required to keep a site maintained.

To illustrate this, consider a 50 page website that has a company phone number or email address listed at the bottom of each page. With a static website you would need to update every single page one by one to apply any changes to those contact details. With a CMS driven site you only need to change the details in one place and the change would be automatically applied to all of the pages at the click of a button.

Similarly with CMS driven sites it is easier to add new modules compared with a static website that could potentially need to be re-built to accommodate any feature upgrades. Functionality such as news, bookings, event and job vacancy managers, RSS news feeds to third party news providers, discussion forums, user polls and surveys, advanced statistics and reporting, and shopping cart systems (eCommerce) can be added to a CMS site with little disruption to the overall structure of the site.

Another key benefit is the ability to automate the management of your website content. For example, a news item or event can be set to be published on a particular day and expire when it is no longer required. This can be applied to event bookings and job vacancies that have a limited life.

Is it difficult to use a CMS driven site?

Not at all - with basic computer and word processing skills you can keep your website content and images up to date. With standard text editing features you can format your text, insert links to documents and third party web site and upload images directly from your computer to the site where they are stored in a folder.

CMS in action

The following websites are CMS driven:

Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Website: http://www.hertschamber.com

Energise Marketing Solutions
Website: http://www.energisemarketingsolutions.com

Core Financial
Website: http://www.corefinancial.co.uk

Stevenage Child Minder
Website: http://www.stevenagechildminder.co.uk

More information

To find out more about our CMS driven sites please visit the Osiris Portal section of our website by clicking on the link below:

http://www.icestarmedia.com/osirisportal

- Seran Bond

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