Content Management Systems (CMS)

by Maarten Van Ruitenburg


There is a buzz in the online community about a technology that empowers the average computer user with the ability to create and maintain their very own web presence. In the past, individuals who took interest in having and operating their own websites were burdened with the task of learning HTML, DHTML, and other web-based technologies such as JavaScript and CSS. The only alternative to this was, unfortunately, to pocket the expenses and costs required to pay a web developer to build and maintain it for them.

This dilemma is one of the primary reasons that small to medium-sized businesses did not begin to emerge on the worldwide web for several years following the corporate dot-com rush. Many business owners were terrified at the thought of having to learn complicated programming languages and server languages in order to create 'do it yourself' websites. Fortunately, that was then and this is now!

Due to the evolving demand for businesses to have a presence on the web, a new application has emerged in order to help business owners and employees create and sustain a professional-looking site without the worries of coding and technical applications.

What do we call this innovative technology that lessens the gap between the IT professionals and ourselves? Content Management Systems (otherwise known as CMS). Simply put, Content Management Systems are applications that implement easy-to-use web-based tools in combination with a database and web templates in order to effortlessly construct, and update a website's content. Hence the name, Content Management System. Content Management System applications are ideal for businesses and sites that require ongoing updates and additions.

The simplicity lies in the fact that through the utilization of the web-based tools, Content Management Systems completely separate the updating and creation of the site's actual content from the site's design and layout. Therefore allowing a person with no knowledge of HTML to go in and alter/add content to the site's pages without making structural changes to the site's design.

What are a few of the benefits associated with using a Content Management System over traditional web-design?

Well, to begin with, Content Management Systems are developed in a way so that even a novice user has the power to maintain and update the site. The content input/update areas are designed to offer a very user-friendly interface, appearing much like a common word processing application that so many of us are familiar with. This makes it possible for any person or staff involved in document creation to easily and efficiently maintain the content on the company's website.

This brings us to yet another factor that makes Content Management Systems so helpful. Because more people have access to updating and maintaining the website, the information is generally much more accurate and recent. Updating older pages manually in order to keep them relevant to changing information cannot only be frustrating, but also repetitive and time consuming. In today's competitive online market, up-to-date information is crucial to your business's credibility and success.

Content Management System un-complicates this task by making global (site-wide) changes through the alteration of a single file. Because all of the site's information is stored in a central location, when that information is altered, every page on that site which contains that specific info is updated immediately. Just like that! This allows the editors or the website's author to write, edit, and publish information to the website without having to submit all of the material to the Webmaster. No inconsistencies, less proofreading--less work altogether.

Another tremendous advantage to using a Content Management System is link maintenance. Many times, even Webmasters make the mistake of deleting or moving content that is linked to multiple areas within a site. When this occurs, the links that are not removed then become broken links because the file to which they refer is either deleted or in another location and the reference is invalid. When a person using a Content Management System deletes or updates the location of a file, each of the links relative to that file are automatically updated, therefore eliminating any risk of orphaned links and that nasty little 'page not found' experience for the site's visitors.

Overall, it is quite obvious that the implementation of a Content Management System is ideal for a wide variety of websites. From news sites to corporate sites-- all the way to small business sites and personal web pages, using a Content Management System combines the convenience of ease of use along with the professionalism of clean web design and up-to-date material.