An Overview of Content Management Systems


You may have heard the phrase “Content Management System” bounced around on the net quite a bit and maybe you came away confused as to what it really is. Maybe instead you have simply heard the acronym for it, ‘CMS’ and that left you even more confused. Well thankfully, this article here will give you a brief overview of this important way of managing websites.

The most basic type of website on the Internet is the one that is completely static – that means that the content of the site is not changeable unless the author manually edits each page’s HTML. Now this can be very time consuming, especially if there are hundreds of pages on the website. Now just there is some bit of information that needs to be changed on each one of those pages. For example, if a copyright tag is at the bottom of every page featuring the year it currently is, with a static website the owner would have to manually edit each page every year to update it to the latest year. That’s a whole lot of work if you ask me.

Another problem with simply a static website is that it is only editable on a computer that has an FTP program. So if someone wanted to change some of the content of their site via a friend’s computer, they would have to download the software first. And if someone wanted to edit the content of their site via a public computer, downloading software would not be possible, and so thus editing the website couldn’t happen.

So this is where Content Management Systems come into play. Instead of having to manually edit the HTML of each page on your website, a CMS makes this process a whole lot easier by allowing you to change the site’s content through your web browser. A CMS is programmed in a server-side language (such as PHP) and so thus it runs on the web server. The benefits of this are that it enables the site owner to access the CMS from anywhere and simply through their browser. It therefore makes a website editable even on public computers.

The way that a website (that has a CMS attached) works is by being connected to a database. So generally, instead of the CMS changing the HTML files of the pages, it instead modifies the content on the pages by changing the data that is being stored in a database. So therefore, the pages of the website are not simply sourcing from their own respective HTML files, but also from the database.

You may be asking at this point: Then couldn’t anyone change the content of my site? No, for the Content Management System is always protected by a password, ensuring that only the site owner has access to it. Content Management Systems do vary greatly from each other, and so when someone says ‘Content Management System’ they could simply be referring to a blogging system, while others could be referring to a system that say generates graphs on the website basing them on data inputted by another server…and everything in between.

So in a day of rapid-change, if your website is one that needs to be regularly updated, go for a Content Management System. In the long run, it will definitely save you time and therefore money.

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by Ryan Hemelaar