A content management system (CMS) is computer software used to manage the creation and modification of digital content (content management). A CMS is typically used for enterprise content management (ECM) and web content management (WCM).
Alternatively, WCM is the collaborative authoring for websites and may include text and embed graphics, photos, video, audio, maps, and program code that display content and interact with the user. ECM typically includes a WCM function.
A CMS typically has two major components: a content management application (CMA), as the front-end user interface that allows a user, even with limited expertise, to add, modify, and remove content from a website without the intervention of a webmaster; and a content delivery application (CDA), that compiles the content and updates the website.
There are two types of CMS installation: on-premises and cloud-based. On-premises installation means that the CMS software can be installed on the server. This approach is usually taken by businesses that want flexibility in their setup. Notable CMSs which can be installed on-premises are Wordpress.org, Drupal, Joomla, Grav, ModX and others.
The cloud-based CMS is hosted on the vendor environment. With this approach, the CMS software cannot be modified for the customer. Examples of notable cloud-based CMSs are SquareSpace, Contentful, Wordpress.com, Webflow, Ghost and WIX.
The core CMS features are: indexing, search and retrieval, format management, revision control, and management.
Features may vary depending on the system application but will typically include:
- Intuitive indexing, search, and retrieval features index all data for easy access through search functions and allow users to search by attributes such as publication dates, keywords or author.
- Format management facilitates turning scanned paper documents and legacy electronic documents into HTML or PDF documents.
- Revision features allow content to be updated and edited after initial publication. Revision control also tracks any changes made to files by individuals.
- Publishing functionality allows individuals to use a template or a set of templates approved by the organization, as well as wizards and other tools to create or modify content.
Popular additional features may include:
- SEO-friendly URLs
- Integrated and online help, including discussion boards
- Group-based permission systems
- Full template support and customizable templates
- Easy wizard-based install and versioning procedures
- Admin panel with multiple language support
- Content hierarchy with unlimited depth and size
- Minimal server requirements
- Integrated file managers
- Integrated audit logs
- Support AMP page for Google
- Support schema markup
- Designed as per Google quality guidelines for website architecture
- Availability of plug-ins for additional functionalities.
- Security precautions such as 2 Factor Authentication
Other types of content management systems
Digital asset management systems are another type of CMS. They manage content with clearly-defined author or ownership, such as documents, movies, pictures, phone numbers, and scientific data. Companies also use CMSs to store, control, revise, and publish documentation.
There are also component content management systems (CCMS), which are CMSs that manage content at a modular level rather than as pages or articles. CCMSs are often used in technical communication, where many publications reuse the same content.
Widely used CMSs
Based on a survey, the most widely used content management system is WordPress, used by 42.8% of the top 10 million websites as of October 2021. (although, per definition, it is a blog system/website generator, not a fully-fledged content management system), followed by Shopify and Joomla.
- List of content management systems
- Content management
- Content Management Interface
- Document management system
- Dynamic web page
- Enterprise content management
- Headless content management system
- Information management
- Knowledge management
- LAMP (software bundle)
- Revision control
- Web application framework
- Web content management system
- Personalization management system
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