An important question for anyone is whether they need a CMS or not? A CMS or content management system is a system of tools, processes and features which enables content to be produced, managed and edited without the need for programming skills or knowledge.
This means it can be done by a relative novice or a team of people in an organisation who are not ‘technical’ but can be taught how to create and manage content in a short space of time.
There are some CMSs which require a certain level of expertise in order to function in the best way possible but others can be used by people from a non-technical background.
The main issue is finding a CMS which achieves a balance between design, usability (e.g. easy to use) and development (coding).
If this applies to you then use this guide to learn more about content management systems; the different types; their advantages and disadvantages and how they compare with each other. We have included the most popular systems to date but more will be added as time goes on.
It is a good idea to have a checklist prepared beforehand which can be used when reviewing the various aspects of an individual CMS. This assessment or ‘evaluation’can remove a great deal of the fear, confusion and anxiety when choosing a CMS.
A CMS should contain the following 10 aspects:
Examples of CMSs which contain these aspects include WordPress, Mambo, Joomla, Drupal, Plone and CMS Made Simple. Find out more about these within the open source CMS section of this guide.
An open source CMS is a good option for anyone on a tight budget but an alternative to that is a commercial or ‘propriety CMS’which can be costly but is a mature established system with in-house technical support, documentation and security.
Find out more about these in the open source CMS and commercial CMS sections within this guide.
Content management systems are popular with many people who enjoy its range of features, ability to maintain websites by non-technical users and ease of use.
They have many advantages over a static HTML website and have relegated this to a minor role. Nowadays few sites are built in this way and with the advent of Web 2.0 there is a greater emphasis on interaction, social media, tags, mashups and web applications, e.g. Java applets.
Whilst a CMS is suitable for most websites there are a few websites which do not require either an open source CMS or any CMS at all. These include:
In these cases it may better to have a website built with a web authoring tool such as Dreamweaver or hand coded with an HTML editor.
It’s a good idea is to download trial versions of a range of CMSs which will enable you to test them and see if they fit your requirements.