What is a CMS?

A CMS, or Content Management System, is a computer program that allows for the manipulation and maintenance of content from a central interface. This program is also commonly known as a Knowledge Management System (KMS).


The use of a CMS is best suited to manage workflow in a collaborative environment, in which content is regularly added, edited and transported by a multitude of authors. This is particularly relevant in e-commerce businesses, in which intellectual information both in internal documents and on the public domain is a key driver of the equity of the entity.


Steps to set up a CMS

In broad terms, there are three distinct forms of a CMS. They range in terms of usability, adaptability and price.

  • Bespoke CMS businesses offer an opportunity to design your management system from scratch, with your input. Whilst offering flexibility and specialization, these are the most costly options.
  • Proprietary CMS’s are owned by a company, and altered to fit the needs of a client. Whilst offering security, a proprietary CMS is initially costly.
  • An open source CMS is by far the most commonly used form of a CMS, as it is relatively inexpensive and easy to use. As such, we will discuss them in detail.

Once you have decided on implementing a CMS, setting it up is easy.

Popular CMS packages such as WordPress, Joomla and Modx are cost effective options that are designed with ease of use in mind.

  1. These services offer a range of options, so step one is to decide what your business needs. Do you already have a website? Are you looking to build one from scratch? Does your business want a simple blog, or a more structured glossary format? In any case, a CMS package will have a way of adapting to your needs.
  2. Step two is to find the right CMS package to fit your needs. This is often a subjective decision, so we don’t have any specific recommendations. However, we would suggest that a popular, stable CMS provider is the way to go, providing less risk and more help, safety and security.

Following this, there is not much else that needs to be done. Such is the ease of a CMS that following a brief tutorial; most employees will be able to begin updating and editing content online.

Benefits of CMS usage

  • Collaboration: Allows for the collaborative efforts of your staff in creating, editing and approving content before it gets published.
  • Usability: Designed with non-technical content authors in mind. People with average knowledge of word processing can create the content directly. No HTML knowledge needed.
  • Decentralised maintenance: Content is now based on a common web browser. This allows for editing from anywhere with an Internet connection, rather than just in the office.
  • Timeliness: Content can be searched, retrieved, and reused to create new products within minutes. Allows for your business to stay on top of trends, product launches and new findings.
  • Safety: Content is stored and backed up online, reducing the risk of content loss if your system crashes.
  • Security: Restricted content can be created so that only authorised users can access it.
  • SEO: Most of the popular CMS software is also linked with SEO, creating more awareness of your company and more hits to your website.
  • Activity: Sites that change and update their content on a regular basis give your business the appearance of being alive and more active. Search engines give higher emphasis on new and fresh content.
  • Scheduling: The publication of content can be time-controlled. You can now write 10 articles in a day and have them published to your site one at a time in set intervals.
  • Direct information: Your customer’s e-mail is most likely clogged with junk mail. Having a central source of information encourages the customer to visit your site and get their information directly.
  • Opportunity for customer service: Integrating a customer response component into your CMS provides an opportunity to bypass e-mail systems. You can now serve your customer in a more timely fashion.

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of a CMS is its effect on your business’s bottom line. It is often both cost and time effective to have a CMS in place as opposed to paying someone to update and edit your online content.

Drawbacks of CMS use

  • Depreciation: There are no guarantees that the CMS purchased today will work in 5 or 10 years time without a developer spending time on upgrades to make it compatible to software changes.
  • Design: Multiple access can lead to a disjointed look and feel of your website.
  • Set up costs: Open source or not, building a user-friendly CMS costs more up-front.
  • Simplicity: The framework of your CMS can limit design flexibility. Basic technical knowledge of design and HTML is a definite help if not a requirement. To be user friendly, a CMS often has limitations for editing, file types, graphics, etc.
  • Security: Access by multiple users can pose a security risk and mistakes go “live” immediately.
  • Time consumption: Managing a CMS takes more time than expected and often gets neglected.

References/ further reading