The Essential Guide to Understanding Content Management Systems


Chances are, if you live in the digital marketing world, you’ve heard the term content management system (or CMS for short) being thrown around. You may even be using a content management system already within your business.

However, many people do not really understand how these systems work. As a result, they overlook the true potential of a content management system and the many benefits it can have in a variety of areas of a business.

Here is a breakdown and essential guide to understanding content management systems that will help give you an idea of the true power they harness.

What is a Content Management System?

Essentially, a content management system is a large online database that you can use to create, manage, and monitor a website or store and organize data online. These online platforms can be used to collaborate between teams and have multiple contributors.

Common content management systems include:

  • WordPress
  • HubSpot
  • Squarespace
  • Joomla
  • Shopify
  • Drupal
  • Magento
  • Wix
  • Expression Engine

How it Works

A content management system can be used for a variety of purposes, from simple blogging to e-commerce, real estate, and everything in between. When you create an account or sign your business up, you will be able to begin uploading files, images, and other data, and then put this together in a visibly appealing website. Often, you can add these files through a simple drag and drop feature.

Many systems also utilize plugins, which can be created by the system’s own developers or third party developers. There are thousands of plugins out there, especially for bigger sites such as WordPress and Shopify, that can allow you to completely customize your website and tailor it for your own business needs.

Why You Should be Using a Content Management System

Anyone can use a content management system, even if you are not a tech-savvy digital pro. These systems are a popular way for businesses to manage their online presence, from small local retailers to major conglomerates. WordPress, for example, is powering about 32% of the entire Internet. There are many benefits and reasons why your business should be using a content management system.

Easy Publishing and User Experience

Publishing content on a content management system can be easy and effective for just about anyone on your team. Most of these systems are easy to use; they feature templates and pre-developed page builders that can be used by anyone, especially those without development knowledge. However, if you do have a developer on your team, there are many ways to incorporate custom coding to create a truly unique digital home.

Seamless Integrations

Most content management systems also use open API, which allows you to connect other tools or websites you are using to keep everything in one easy to access system. This puts everything you need in one place without needing to manage or keep track of other tools and data systems.

Internal Data Management and Team Intranet

Even if you are not using a content management system for your website, you can still use it to share files and store information either for yourself or within your internal business team. This can be effective for training materials, news updates, and much more. Your files are uploaded to a secure server and anyone else who wants to access them will need their own user account.

Choosing The Right Content Management System

Choosing a content management system that is right for your business can seem intimidating since there are so many out there. Making this decision will require you to take a look at your current business efforts, your goals, and your team. For example, if you are a larger business that has access to a website developer, you may want to choose one of the more complex, customizable options that your developer can code on. However, if you are not well versed in the digital world, you may want to stick with a more user friendly, drag-and-drop option such as Wix or Squarespace.

Talking to an expert and getting a developer or marketing agency’s opinion could be essential in helping you make this decision. Many agencies and experts are happy to talk to business owners and provide them with guidance, so do not be afraid to reach out.