A Content Management System (CMS) is a web-based tool to allow any user access to edit the website. The idea behind a CMS is that everyday maintenance is handled by the client who, typically, has no prior experience in web page programming. By using modern programming languages and WYSIWYG (meaning ‘What You See Is What You Get’) editors look and work in a similar way to Microsoft Word, but convert the content in HTML format (the language of the web). None of them are perfect, but they certainly make it easier & quicker to publish and edit your website.

We find that people who are proficient in Word can easily work a CMS and have the ability to create new content, add content, insert images and basically control what is in the website.

Most CMSs will store the content of the web page in a database table, meaning it’s searchable and can have various meta data attached to it. It also means that you can have various version of the same page (for example, the live version, older versions and perhaps a new version that is not yet complete.) This makes a CMS a very powerful tool for managing the site content.

Fully functioning content management systems come in many different guises, thankfully, there are now some excellent off-the-shelf options available. Some of them are free to use, such as Wordpress and some require the purchase of a license, such as Expression Engine.

As a word of advice, if you don’t need particularly bespoke functionality try and stick to using a popular, reliable CMS. There is little point building a completely bespoke CMS just to add, edit and delete pages, news and blog posts. It simply isn’t necessary anymore. In addition, most of the mainstream CMSs have thousands of plugins available that will facilitate all manor of things, such as animated banner photos, photo galleries, dynamic (editable) contact forms etc. Don’t try and re-create the wheel unless you have to.

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