The right CMS for your online content

Choose the perfect CMS: Learn what a content management system (CMS) does and find the right one for you.

The right CMS for your online content
The different features and roles a Content Management System (CMS) plays will help you find the right one.

The history of CMS can be traced back to the late 1990s, when the first CMSs were developed to enable non-technical users to create and manage websites without needing to know HTML or other programming languages.

Early CMSs were primarily used by large organizations with complex websites, but as the technology evolved and became more user-friendly, they became increasingly popular among small businesses and individuals. Today, there are hundreds of different CMSs available, ranging from open-source platforms like WordPress and Drupal to proprietary systems like Adobe Experience Manager and Sitecore.

In this article I explain the different functionalities of a CMS and why there are so many different systems to manage content. It will help you analyse your own requirements for managing online content with the right tool.

What functionality does a CMS have?

A CMS, or Content Management System, is a software application that allows users to create, manage, and publish digital content, such as text, images, videos, and audio, on a website or other digital platform. This can include functionality for creating and editing web pages, managing user access and permissions, and publishing content to a live website or other digital platform. Common examples of CMS include WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.

A content management system (CMS) typically offers a range of functionalities to help users create, manage, and publish digital content. Some common features of CMS include:

  1. Content creation: Allows users to create, edit, and format text, images, videos, and other types of digital content.
  2. Content organization: Allows users to organize content into categories, tags, and other structures to make it easy to find and access.
  3. Content publishing: Allows users to publish content to a website or other digital platform, with options for scheduling and controlling access to the content.
  4. User management: Allows administrators to create and manage user accounts, assign roles and permissions, and control access to different areas of the CMS.
  5. Media management: Allows users to upload, manage, and organize multimedia files such as images, videos, and audio files. (See the digital asset manager)
  6. Search and navigation: Allows users to search for content within the CMS and navigate through the content using menus and other navigation tools.
  7. Workflow management: Allows users to create and manage workflows for creating, editing, and publishing content, with options for reviewing and approving content before it is published.
  8. Plugins and integrations: Allows users to add new functionalities to the CMS by installing plugins and integrating with other software, such as e-commerce platforms, analytics tools, and social media networks.
  9. Website design and layout: Allows users to customize the layout, design, and appearance of the website using templates, themes, or custom code.
  10. Analytics and reporting: Allows users to track website traffic, measure engagement, and analyze the performance of content and campaigns.

Please note that not all CMSs have all functionalities mentioned above, and some of them may have additional functionalities depending on the specific product.

Why are there so many different CMSs

There are many different content management systems (CMS) available because different CMSs have been developed to meet different needs and requirements.

Some of the reasons for this include:

  1. Different use cases: Different types of websites and digital platforms have different requirements for content management. For example, a small business website may only need a basic CMS with a few core features, while a large enterprise website may require a more complex CMS with advanced capabilities like workflow management, user management, and integrations with other software.
  2. Different technical capabilities: Different CMSs have been developed using different technologies and programming languages, which can affect their performance, scalability, and ease of use. Some CMSs are built on open-source platforms like WordPress or Drupal, while others are proprietary systems like Adobe Experience Manager or Sitecore.
  3. Different target markets: Different CMSs are aimed at different types of users, including small business owners, individual bloggers, designers, and developers. Some CMSs are designed to be easy to use and set up, while others are more complex and geared towards experienced developers.
  4. Different business models: Some CMSs are open-source and free to use, while others are proprietary and require a license or subscription. Some CMSs are offered as a service, where the provider hosts the CMS and manages the underlying infrastructure, while others are self-hosted and require the user to manage their own servers.
  5. Innovation and competition: The market for CMS is constantly evolving and new CMSs are being developed all the time, with new features and capabilities. Some CMSs are developed as commercial products by companies, while others are developed by communities of volunteers as open-source projects.

All these factors combined have led to the existence of a wide range of different CMSs, each with its own set of features, capabilities, and target markets. This diversity allows users to choose a CMS that best meets their specific needs, whether it's a simple website, a complex enterprise system or something in between. It also means you need to take time and attention to find the right tool for your needs.

Here is a list of some modern and popular content management systems (CMS) currently available:

  1. WordPress: One of the most widely used and popular CMSs, WordPress is open-source and free to use. It's easy to set up and use, and has a large community of users and developers.
  2. Drupal: Another open-source CMS, Drupal is known for its flexibility and scalability. It's often used for large, complex websites, and has a strong community of developers.
  3. Joomla: Joomla is an open-source CMS that is similar to WordPress and Drupal. It's known for its ease of use and wide range of built-in features, and is often used for small and medium-sized websites.
  4. Shopify: Shopify is a proprietary, cloud-based e-commerce platform that includes a CMS. It's known for its simplicity and ease of use, and is often used by small businesses and entrepreneurs to set up and manage online stores.
  5. Magento: Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform that includes a CMS. It's known for its scalability and flexibility and is often used by large and complex e-commerce websites.
  6. Adobe Experience Manager: Adobe Experience Manager is a proprietary, web-based CMS that is part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud. It's known for its scalability and rich feature set, and is often used by large enterprises and organizations.
  7. Sitecore: Sitecore is a proprietary, web-based CMS that is known for its scalability and flexibility. It is often used by large enterprise, and for personalization and omnichannel experiences
  8. Kentico: Kentico is a web content management system and customer experience management system that offers a rich set of features for creating and managing websites, online stores, and intranets.
  9. Umbraco: Umbraco is a free, open-source CMS built on the Microsoft stack. It's known for its flexibility and scalability, and is often used by large organizations and enterprise-level projects.
  10. Squarespace: Squarespace is a proprietary, web-based CMS that is known for its ease of use and design-focused templates. It's often used by small businesses, individuals, and creatives to create and manage websites and online stores. (See: Using Squarespace for a year)

Some other notable systems are Wix, Tridion, Wagtail, Ghost and Hubspot.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, there are many other CMSs available in the market and new ones are being developed all the time. Some of them might be more suitable for your specific use case than others.