CMS stands for Content Management System and is a system that is used as the base of a website to enable webmasters to manage their websites much more easily; a CMS can also be used as the base for the expansion of a website. There are many different CMS systems available, each developed using different scripting languages and database backends meaning that it will be pretty easy to find a content management system that will be able to work with your web hosting package properly. Content management systems provide you with a web interface that will allow you to add and remove content from your website, this means that you won’t have to keep updating and adding new static HTML files to your web space every time you want to update the content on your website; most CMS systems will be able to provide you with a WYSIWYG editor to enable you to manage your content properly, allowing you add images and other multimedia content to your website. Although there are commercial CMS applications available for purchase, as a starting point you should look at using an open source/free one because this way if you find that a CMS isn’t exactly what you require, you haven’t wasted any money.
Why should I use an open source CMS system?
An open source CMS system will be free to use and will also provide you with access to the source code so that you can adapt the system if you wish for it to function in a way that is different to how it functions by default. There are many different open source CMS systems available, although the most popular ones generally require PHP web hosting services as they are based on PHP and MySQL; however, this will benefit you because it means that such CMS systems are likely to work with any web hosting service and operating system combination. Most open source CMS applications also have a wide variety of third-party plugins and themes that are available for use freely, allowing you to expand your website or to choose a new design for it without having to put in a massive amount of work. However, you should consider that most third-party plugins don’t come with any official support meaning that if something goes wrong, you’ll either have to sort it out yourself or find another plugin of a similar nature to use.
Why should I consider a commercial CMS system?
If you are already using an open source CMS system and feel that you would like to move on to a more stable system then you should consider purchasing a commercial CMS system from a reputable software developer. Commercial CMS systems are only recommended for businesses that experience high traffic loads and require a configuration that will be able to cope with high loads without the threat of crashing or overloading the hosting server. Although most commercial CMS systems aren’t going to have the large plugin and theme databases that are available with most open source CMS systems, you are likely to receive full support for the product from the developer meaning that if there is a problem, you can easily go back to the creator if you wish to have your issues sorted ASAP. If you wish to expand a commercial CMS system then the chances are that you will need to have the developer of the application do this for you, although this will mean that you can be sure that anything extras that you add to your website will function as required.
A CMS system will make it easier for you to manage your website because you will be provided with a web-based administration area that will contain features to manage every aspect of your website. At the moment you are probably having to create and update static HTML files every time you wish to add content or alter content on your website which can be very time consuming and is quite unnecessary. Any good CMS system will provide you with a WYSIWYG editor that will allow you to visually create and edit content much like a word processor application on your desktop; you will be able to add images and other media to your content to make it more feature-rich and interesting for your visitors to read. Another beneficial feature of most CMS systems is the permalinks that are generated for your web pages and content; permalinks are SEO friendly URLs that will contain information that is relevant to your web page, for example the URL ending may in fact be the title of your web page.
Any well-established CMS system will come with an API that will allow you to develop your own plugins for the application so that you can expand its functions so that you are able to do more with it or so that you can change the way it functions from the outset. Many developers have taken this option on board and so there are many different plugins available for the most popular open source CMS systems and so you could say that these are the most expandable. Most systems will also have a design API so that you can easily integrate the system into the design of your existing website; if you aren’t so up to scratch website design then you will also be able to find a wide variety of freely available themes/designs.
In conclusion, it is worth looking at a content management system primarily because it will save you time when it comes to managing your website. If you wish to offer new features on your website then a CMS can provide you with the expansion opportunities that you require through the API that is going to be on offer as well as the large collection of plugins that should be available. Integrating a CMS system into your existing website architecture is also simple as you can usually modify the permalink structure and design to fit your needs.