A CMS or Content Management System is a system put in place on a website to allow a variety of users to edit and update content in real time on a website.  CMS systems come in a variety of versions, and can range in price from free to expensive custom-built applications.

There is little doubt if you own a website you have heard of using a CMS to manage your site.  Here we will cover the basic ideas behind a CMS system and how it can benefit your site.

Why use a CMS?

A CMS system allows you to easily edit pages and regularly update content on your website.  With the increasing importance search engines are placing on fresh content, having a system that allows anyone on your team to update information is essential.

Many also incorrectly think that CMS systems are only for blogs or small websites.  With some know-how, systems like Drupal or WordPress can actually run very large websites.  In fact, whitehouse.gov is currently powered by Drupal.
Additionally, CMS systems are scalable, allowing you the ability to add hundreds of pages and grow your site into a very robust hub of information.  Many static websites are confined to a set number of pages, and adding new content may be a difficult process.

How do I choose a CMS?

Selecting the CMS that you choose for you website will depend on your technology experience and the level of support you have with your site.  The good thing is that the most popular CMS systems all have huge online support forums where you can get help with most issues you face.
The complexity of different systems can vary quite a bit.  WordPress is a common system, and is fairly easy to use.  Drupal and Joomla are 2 more systems that are common, but slightly more difficult to use.  The benefit of these systems is they can offer more functionality for intermediate users.

How much is a CMS System?

Most of the most popular content management systems are free.  You download the files, install it on your server, and you are ready to roll in no time.  You can also use free themes and plugins to get a custom look and extra functionality for your site.

However, many businesses who use a CMS for their website will also need a custom theme and/or custom plugins developed to suit their needs.  This is where the cost usually arises from using these systems.  However, many businesses (ourselves included – shameless plug, we know) offer custom WordPress and Drupal theme development.