by Matt Parisi
According to About.com, the definition of a Content Management System, or CMS, is; “A tool for managing content, usually on a Web site, that separates the design, interactivity, and content from one another to make it easier for content authors to provide content.” The advantages of having a CMS for managing a website have been well documented, as demonstrated by this definition, with the main benefit of allowing content producers the ability to add website content without the prerequisite technical expertise of web programming. The disadvantages of a CMS, on the other hand, have not been as well chronicled. Before covering the compromises of a CMS, let’s take a quick look at the advantages.
The advantages of a CMS include the following:
- Ease of Adding Website Content – Depending on how well it’s built, a CMS has the undeniable advantage of allowing non-technical users the ability to add website content themselves.
- Separation of Design, Structure, and Content – Separating these elements allows you to adjust any one independent of the others. This creates a situation where you can simply change the look of your site, but the content and structure all remain, without the need for manually constructing new pages.
- Multiple Users – A CMS typically allows content management by many users. Since each user does not need much technical know-how, it streamlines the content addition process.
- Remote Website Management – CMS also typically make the task of administering a website remotely easier by allowing website editing via a web interface. Without a CMS, remote management would be much more difficult requiring the remote computer to have far more software than a simple browser.
- Dynamic Content – CMS also allow the use of “modules” which typically can simply be installed to the CMS to automate various processes. Examples of modules would be Forums, Polls, and Shopping Carts all of which can be added to a website quickly and easily.
- Content Publishing Scheduling – Content can be produced and then added to the website at a desired point in the future, eliminating the need for real time updating.
Content Management Systems also have other benefits, but these points cover the most common advantages of a CMS. What’s typically not considered by clients who want a CMS are the potential compromises being made by having a website CMS. The key to a successful website, both regarding your users and your own internal business, is to find the right compromise between having CMS-driven content versus not. As with most things in life, the answer lies between the two extremes, by finding where it makes most sense on a website to use a CMS and where it makes most sense to leave the CMS out.
Update (1/12): Continue reading PART II: The Disadvantages (and Advantages) of a CMS (Content Management System)
Please visit us again Wednesday next week (1/13) for Part II covering the disadvantages of a CMS.