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What Is a CMS? How to Choose One That Fits Your Needs

November 18, 2022

what is a CMS

Content is the reigning king of marketing, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

As you begin to plan your business strategy, creating unique content and putting it online is an absolute must. Not only does it bring you more leads, but also proves your credibility as a business. 

As you discover how to proceed with that, you’ll come across the term web content management system quite a few times, and in this article, we’ll learn how it makes web content creation effortless and efficient.

A CMS is broken into two components:

  1. Content Management Application (CMA): The front-end process that allows you to add and manage the content on your site.
  2. Content Delivery Application (CDA): The back-end process that takes the content from the CMA and stores it in a proper format, making it visible to your visitors.

Traditional CMS vs. headless CMS

Depending on how the content is managed and displayed, a content management system can be architectured as a traditional or headless CMS. 

  • Traditional CMS offers a fully accessible back-end connected to the styled front-end. It allows easy content creation and modification via beginner-friendly simple templates that do not require specialized technical knowledge. A drawback with traditional CMS, or coupled CMS, is that it limits the delivery of the content to the channels it supports, such as a website. 
  • Headless CMS has only a back-end system that stores content and provides organizational capabilities. The stored content is made available through an application programming interface (API), which allows it to be delivered via desired channels, such as websites, mobile apps, and AR/VR. The drawback with a headless CMS is that a developer is typically required to design and connect the front-end to the back-end application, and it lacks a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) functionality. 

traditional cms vs. headless cms

Whether you’re interested in creating a formal website or a blog for your side job, and you aren’t sure how to code, a CMS is exactly what you’re looking for.

What does a CMS do?

Content management systems are specifically designed to help users create and manage the content on your website. This can be anything from the display text, pictures, videos, articles, etc., on your site.

Since almost all modern websites consist of HTML, CSS, Javascript, and a variety of images that make up the content on a website, your CMS will help you organize these resources, all in one place while ensuring a positive user experience for your visitors.

Advantages of a CMS

There are many advantages to using a CMS. For starters, a great aspect of most CMSs is their expandability, considering most support third-party plugins that either expand on or support elements already pre-built into the CMS.

In addition, as opposed to coding the site yourself, a CMS allows for an easy-to-use interface where you don’t need technical skills to use. There typically are support documents and a community of users that can be helpful if you have a question or run into an issue you need assistance resolving.

If you’re looking to have opportunities for customization, most CMS platforms have various ready-to-use design templates that are easy to install, so you are sure to find one that works with the look and feel you have in mind for your site.

Content promotes search engine optimization (SEO), and CMSs can be very SEO-friendly. They make it simple to include custom page titles, metadata, and adjustable URLs. There are also helpful plugins available if you need additional tips on how to optimize your on-page SEO.

Finally, using a CMS supports collaboration, as multiple users can log in and contribute to and edit the existing content.

Disadvantages of a CMS

Like anything with pros, there are also cons to using a CMS, although not many.

For example, since some CMSs are so popular, and have so many users, security can sometimes be a concern. Hackers could potentially figure out how to break into the CMS platform. Of course, there’s a workaround to this, including taking extra security precautions like two-factor authentication.

Also, you may experience some lagging, since content management systems tend to store parts of a page separately. Such lagging can be reduced with effective caching.

Lastly, even though many CMSs possess a variety of designs, you could run into the fact that none are exactly what you have in mind. If that’s the case, find a designer on a freelance platform that can create something that is more on-brand for your company.

Choosing a CMS

There is a lot to consider when deciding which CMS is right for you and your needs. For instance, think about the business problems you are hoping the right CMS will solve.

Next, think about what you’re looking to actually write on the CMS. Some are ideal for blogging. If blogging won’t be the focus of your site, others are tailored more for eCommerce functionality.


of businesses with a blog acquire more customers than those without.

Source: Marketing Insider Group

Also, keep in mind elements like the pricing, what technologies the CMS needs to support or integrate with, how easy the CMS makes editing and content creation, if the platform is SEO-friendly, and if there is a developer community.

Once you answer some of these questions, you will have an easier time narrowing down your options for the right CMS.

Types of CMS

There are various types of CMS that cater to different needs, and understanding the options available can help you choose one that fits your requirements, save costs, and foster better collaboration between users. The different types of content management systems are:

  1. Component Content Management System (CCMS): A platform designed to facilitate the maximum reusability of content. CCMS stores content on a granular or component level (words, phrases, paragraphs, photos) in the central repository. This content can be published via multiple channels, such as print, web, and chatbots.
  2. Document Management System (DMS): An eco-friendly and secure cloud-based platform that enables uploading, processing, and sharing business documents without printing or scanning them.
  3. Enterprise Content Management System (ECM): Allows enterprises to generate, organize, and distribute documents, providing easy access to the correct recipients (employees, customers, or other business partners). The stored files are automatically deleted after a retention period to free up unnecessarily occupied space. 
  4. Web Content Management System (WCMS): A medium that lets users manage, author, administrate, and collaborate on content for web pages specifically. With a WCMS, anyone without prior knowledge of markup or programming language can operate the digital components of a website.
  5. Digital Asset Management System (DAM): A cloud-based solution that helps create, manage, and distribute digital assets (audio, creative files, video, documents, and presentations). It also acts as a centralized digital content library that users can easily access from anywhere.

Content management for websites

As discussed in the previous section, WCMS exclusively deals with website creation. With the intuitive and user-friendly CMS interface, you don't have to worry about learning the programming languages JavaScript, HTML, CSS, or PHP – creating a website requires you just to drag and drop your desired elements.

The process of creating a website with a CMS includes:

  • Purchasing web hosting and a domain name
  • Installing the desired CMS on a web server
  • Configuring the CMS according to your brand requirements
  • Publishing content using the CMS's interface

Web content management software

As of November 2022, there are almost 80 million websites on the internet built using a CMS. You may have heard of common CMS examples like WordPress or HubSpot, with WordPress being the most popular content management system and holding 44% of the global market share.

However, there is other free and subscription-based CMS software that can be explored, based on the user's needs and end goals. Some software might be great for beginners, small businesses, and blogging purposes, while others may cater to enterprises and those with technical knowledge.

Dust off that keyboard and get started

Now that you have a better understanding of content management systems, what they do, and how to choose one, you can get to creating top-notch content. Doing so is an absolute must in crafting an engaging website with a stellar content strategy.

It’s no surprise that 64% of marketers want to learn how to build a content strategy, and choosing to use a CMS is often the first step.

In addition to having quality content, check out these other must-have website features that will take your site to the next level.

Web content management system
Drag and drop.

Get your content online without fretting over programming languages or hiring a developer with WCMS.

Web content management system
Drag and drop.

Get your content online without fretting over programming languages or hiring a developer with WCMS.

What Is a CMS? How to Choose One That Fits Your Needs Looking to create a website, but are unsure what a CMS is or how to choose the right one? Check out these tips before you make your decision.
Mara Calvello Mara Calvellos is a Content Marketing Manager at G2. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Elmhurst College (now Elmhurst University). Mara works on our G2 Tea newsletter, while also writing content to support categories on artificial intelligence, natural language understanding (NLU), AI code generation, synthetic data, and more. In her spare time, she's out exploring with her rescue dog Zeke or enjoying a good book.

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