For a while, a small group of highly skilled people had exclusive insights into the world of websites. And then new platforms opened up this process by allowing almost everyone to create and manage a website without any prior experience or knowledge.
Find out all you need to know about content management systems (CMS) and compare some of the most well-known CMS platforms to choose the right one for your business.
What Is a CMS?
In short, a CMS is a software platform that helps users, with or without specialized knowledge, to create, modify, and manage content. Instead of building everything from scratch, you can depend on a CMS to handle all the necessary infrastructure and you get to focus on the looks and content of your website.
How Does it Work?
Every CMS consists of two parts that are crucial for its functioning:
- CMA (Content Management Application) – This allows multiple contributors to create, edit, and manage a range of web content.
- CDA (Content Delivery Application) – This is the backend that takes the content from the CMA, stores it in a designated database, and makes it visible on your page.
What Are the Basic Features of a CMS?
In technical terms, these features are the foundation of any CMS.
- Content creation
- Content storage
- Workflow management
At its core, a CMS is a tool for collaboration. Multiple users can contribute and work with the content at anytime and anywhere as the interface is usually browser-based.
Another great advantage of CMS’s is that even non-programmers can use them to create and manage their websites. In a way, CMS is a shortcut for ordinary people to become webmasters.
When a business uses a CMS to publish content, it doesn’t have to rely on developers to make constant changes to the website. Now everyone can post content by themself.
What Is an Open-Source CMS?
The open-source status of a software program or platform signals that it’s free to all and doesn’t require a license. The most significant benefits of an OP CMS include:
- Cheaper to use as there are no license or upgrade fees.
- Doesn’t require any long-term commitments.
- Thousands of free templates and themes available and anyone can create more.
- Optimized for search engines with the help of plugin tools.
How to Choose the Best CMS
Before you decide on a platform, make sure you know what you’re looking for. Here are some of the most important features that may help you to decide.
- Portability: A CMS platform should have enough tools to allow you to export your data and move it somewhere else quickly.
- User-friendly Interface: With a drag-and-drop interface, adding and editing content becomes effortless. You can continuously add new content with ease.
- Plugins: On top of the CMS platform itself, plugins are available to help users find exactly what they need. They can add features, improve functionality, and boost website performance as appropriate.
- Price: Some CMS platforms are available free of charge while others come with a monthly fee. Researching a CMS beforehand, regardless of the reputation, is the best way to know what to expect.
Popular CMS Platforms
Now that you know what to take into an account when you start looking for a good CMS, we’ll outline some of the most prominent platforms on the market.
If you’re looking for a dependable open-source CMS, WordPress is by far the biggest platform on the market. With that said, the platform lets you download all your content in XML and thus allowing you to move it somewhere else. You have 100% ownership of all your data, and you can control what to do with it.
It’s very intuitive, and it doesn’t require a lot of time to become proficient. Beginners often use a plugin that adds a drag-and-drop page builder to learn how to navigate the interface.
There are hundreds of thousands of WP plugins and themes to facilitate all sorts of websites and their management.
WordPress on its own is free. However, as it can’t host your website, you’ll need to spend extra to find a hosting provider and pay for the domain. There are a lot of free elements, but to get the more advanced options, you’ll have to spend extra money.
Another big CMS platform with purportedly up to 100 million users worldwide is Wix. It’s a beginner-friendly platform ideal for school projects or your first venture into constructing a webpage.
Wix doesn’t allow you to download and export your data easily. You can download your blog posts and move them, but if you want to download whole pages, you’ll have to do it manually.
Wix uses a drag-and-drop interface, and you can select any part of your page and start editing it. The company that owns it, Wix.com Ltd., offers plenty of premade templates for you to choose from. The problem occurs only when you want to change the theme since the platform doesn’t allow it.
The Wix App Market was developed as a place where you can find useful apps and add them to your site. They operate on the same principle as WordPress plugins for improving your site’features.
Wix offers a free plan, but it’ll come with a Wix-branded domain name and potentially a lot of aggressive ads on your site.
Squarespace is a closed-source CMS website builder.
Squarespace lets you download some of your content in XML, but you can’t export everything.
For example, your product pages, folders, index, and even webpages will be deleted if you decided to move to another platform.
Like the other platforms, Squarespace has a drag-and-drop interface that allows users to edit every element separately. That’s why beginners love it.
Squarespace has built a massive library of themes and plugins, but once you get into it you may realize that they are quite limiting.
The pricing plans are clearly defined. They start low but if you decide to go with the most advanced eCommerce plan, you’re looking at $480 per year.
Do We Have a Winner?
As mentioned, CMS platforms have reshaped the internet and enabled anybody to be their webmaster. If you want to create good-looking and functional websites and don’t care about the ownership too much, Squarespace and Wix are probably the right choices.
However, if you’re into exploring, changing, and optimizing, then WordPress is what you’re looking for. Also, you can even make a website and transfer it somewhere else if necessary.
If you know why you are building your website and what goals you want to achieve, any of these CMS platforms will be able to support you. All in all, you have the final say.