February 12, 2010

Content Management Systems: An Introduction


Hostway Team

By Bruce Tyson

A Content Management System, or CMS, is an application running on a Web site that allows users to produce and manage dynamic Web sites without any technical knowledge. Everything is done through an easy to use graphical interface that loads into a Web browser.

CMS Options

If you're looking to add a CMS to your Web site, the options are endless. Design Reviver had a great post that helps you choose the right CMS for your Web site.

Who Needs a CMS?

Web sites of virtually any type can employ a CMS. One or more users of a blog can log into the site and use the Web interface to create articles, edit and organize information, and post pictures, videos, or other files. The CMS makes sure that all the pages are consistent in appearance. The CMS administration area is used by the site owner to decide what actions different users can take on the site. Users do all this with the CMS without any technical expertise.

Newspaper Web sites also make good use of CMS. Each reporter logs in to submit news stories that are sent to the editor for review. The editor logs in, reviews and revises the stories, and then publishes them for public viewing. The CMS makes sure that every article a visitor views has the same general appearance. Best of all, no one with technical expertise is required to get the news out.

Real Estate companies use CMS to show properties that are for sale. An agent with a new listing can log in to the CMS, fill out information about the property on a pre-defined form, upload a photograph of the property and publish it so visitors can see it as they browse the site. When the property sells, the agent logs on and archives the listing so visitors don’t see it anymore. Here's an example of a Real Estate Web site using a CMS.

Manufacturers use CMS to promote and support their products. At a motherboard manufacturing company, the product manager logs into the CMS to create pages that describe each product and list its specifications. Technical writers log in to post the product documentation so customers can see how to use their products. Employees in the marketing department post sales collateral to help dealers sell the products. Software engineers use the CMS to upload software and drivers that make the products work. Employees can quickly post corrections and additional information and files as soon as a customer makes a request. There’s no need to wait for a programmer to do it. All manufacturers use CMS in a similar manner.

Banks use their CMS to tell customers about their products. One page can describe each type of bank account available from the bank. Another page can list all the different loans that are available. A separate page would describe retirement accounts.

CMS can be used by business of all sizes and types to provide information about their company, products, and policies. CMS applications can easily add additional functionality such as contact forms and online stores. Your Web site is a vital way for your company to interact with its customers. A CMS makes it easy for you and your company to have current information online and to respond to customer needs.

About the Author

Bruce Tyson has been managing Internet domains for multiple entities for more than 15 years. Functioning as a consultant in a variety of business and academic Web venues, he also operates several Web sites of his own.

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