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What is a Content Management System (CMS)

What does CMS stand for?

In the field of website development  CMS stands for: content management system.  A CMS is a web based application that enables a user to manage website content through a collection of tools. The website data, or content, is stored separate from the code with makes it much easier to manage the website.  Most of the time the content is stored in a database. It could be stored in flat files, xml format too. A database is the most practical and mostly used approach though.

Why use a content management system?

The main reasons I recommend building a website in a CMS are:

  • Development time. I can build a website faster most of the time starting with a CMS. Basic core functionality like user registration and login functionality is built in. Its fully tested so there are no bugs to worry about.
  • Its easier to maintain a website ongoing that it managed through a CMS rather than having to edit pages by logging into the web server and modify source code.
  • Its easy for my clients to handle basic website maintenance related to content, rather than having to depend on their web developer for any changes.
  • Its easier to build in functionality beyond a simple brochure website when you use a content management system.


What is the best CMS?

Well, that depends. There are many open source and commercial content management systems, like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal to name a few. You can also hire a web developer to build a custom content management system for you. If you have a unique web development project or just need a few simple web based tools, a custom CMS may be a good solution.

The best CMS for your project depends on things like:

  • The functionality you need in your website.
  • What your budget is to build a website.
  • If you plan on managing content once it’s built, how technically savvy you are.
  • How diligent you will be about website maintenance and keeping your code up to date and secure.

I work mainly with 2 types of CMS.

  1. WordPress  (.org not .com)  .org is open source software you download and install on your web host. .com is a hosted solution where you use the software on their web server.
  2. Custom CMS

All custom CMS development I do is built with PHP and MySQL database. Most of the time I will recommend WordPress. Depending on a project requirements though, I may suggest custom CMS solutions for your project.

You can view content management system website examples in my web developer portfolio.

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