Content Management Systems (CMS) have a history as long as the internet. In early 1990 the first websites started to appear as static web pages with just the text and links, built on simple HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). The introduction of web browsers led to increasingly visual and function-rich websites with higher levels of interactivity. However, the manual process of building, uploading, and maintaining the entire website with content was tedious. This led to the emergence of a new category of software called CMS. Many CMS products such as FileNet, StoryBuilder, Documentum, and others were introduced during the mid to late nineties, all proprietary, closed source products.
The early to mid-2000's witnessed the emergence of open-source CMSes, such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. The period also saw the evolution of content management solutions into different types, such as WCMS (Web Content Management System), that were specifically focused on websites. CMS continues to remain at the core of different platforms, with the latest being DXP (Digital Experience Platform), which has emerged over the years to meet the online content needs of users and enterprises.
CMS is a software platform that enables organizations and individuals to organize, deliver, and modify different content with little or no technical knowledge. The two core components of CMS are:
- Content management application (CMA): It is the front-end component of a CMS that allows users to create and manage content. It automates repetitive aspects of content creation and editing through templates. CMAs use the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface, which enables users to create and manage content without using HTML.
- Content delivery application (CDA): The backend component of a CMS that takes the content from a CMA and stores it in the repository. It facilitates the display of the stored content to front-end user applications, such as websites. CDA has only read access to the content repository, preventing users from changing the content components that they are viewing.
Types of Content Management System
Content Management System features continue to evolve and they can be classified into the following broad categories:
- Web Content Management System
Gartner defines Web Content Management (WCM) as the process of controlling content consumed over one or more digital channels through the use of specific management solutions based on a core repository. The functionality of WCM solutions is not limited to just the publishing of web pages, but also includes content creation function, a repository to organize and provide metadata about the content, library services, website management features, and integration capabilities with other platforms and enterprise applications.
In simple terms, WCM enables organizations to create, manage, and deliver content consumed across multiple digital channels. WCM can be classified into two types:
- Open-source CMS
It can be installed without any cost since there are no license fees. If you are technically qualified then you can manage the installation and set it up without any external help, else you may have to hire technical experts to manage the tasks. If you require customization to extend the software or ongoing maintenance and support, then you will have to hire the services of technology experts.
The top three open-source CMS are WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. There were more than 71 million live websites built using CMS and an estimated 74% of these use an open-source CMS. WordPress continues to be the most popular open-source CMS, while Drupal works best for large, complex, enterprise-class websites.
- Commercial or Proprietary CMS
It is built and managed by one company and requires license fees for initial installation and setup. You may have to pay annual charges for support and upgrades. You also may have to pay extra charges for customization and ongoing support. Some of the commercial CMSes are Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), Sitecore, and Microsoft SharePoint.
- Digital Asset Management System
This class of CMS, popularly known as DAM, is used for managing media files and graphical content. DAM is the foundation of a good customer experience since it enables the team to access, manage, and deliver digital content from a single source to different channels seamlessly.
- Document Management System
It helps enterprises to store, manage and track electronic documents and scanned images of physical documents or papers. It allows for efficient management of electronic documents that can be changed and maintained by multiple users at a time.
- Enterprise Content Management System
This is another class of CMS that helps enterprises collect, store, deliver, and manage unstructured data, such as emails, reports, other official documents, etc. It ensures that the right documents are delivered to the right audience, which can be customers, employees, or business partners. It also deletes files after the specified retention period to free up storage space.
- Component Content Management System
It focuses on organizing content at a granular or component level. It enables organizations to store, track, and manage content as reusable components or building blocks such as words, paragraphs, phrases, or photos, which can be easily mixed and matched. This class of CMS is an ideal choice for media companies who need to publish content across various platforms.
5 Reasons to use a Content Management System·
A CMS is a marketing tool that helps you manage content across multiple online marketing channels to generate leads and acquire customers. It helps you to improve content planning, enhance communication and collaboration, and provide additional security. A CMS is easy to use since it does not require much programming experience and is cost-effective.
The two most common use cases for a CMS are websites and private intranets. A CMS can also help you manage content for mobile applications and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Enterprises use a CMS to build and manage their website as one of their marketing communication channels. Depending on the industry, websites can also act as a sales channel to facilitate transactions.
- Corporate Intranet
Intranet has evolved from a traditional information repository portal to become an engaging communication and collaboration platform that helps enterprises improve the employee experience.
Enterprises leverage CMSes for their private company network, which has become strategically important in a remote work environment. It acts as a single source of truth for employees that enables them to connect, collaborate, learn, and access information.
Enterprises that have a vast ecosystem of partners and vendors develop extranets using content management solutions. An extranet has different types of users, so it is important to set up permissions properly to make sure that users only have access to the content that they are entitled to.
A microsite is a brand-specific website that is distinct from a company website and has a different URL. These are information-intensive sites with the objective to promote specific products, events, or campaigns. A single CMS instance can help you create multiple microsites.
- Human Resources (HR) portal
Employees use the HR portal to access various services: time-off requests, benefits enrollment, and so much more. A CMS enables enterprises to create an extensible application that integrates with third-party applications and enterprise systems.
How to Choose a Content Management System?
First and foremost, the selection of a CMS requires a good understanding of your business needs and content management practices. Then you need to consider content management solutions evaluation criteria such as features, costs, scalability, integration, and others to find the right match.
Some important content management system features that you should consider when choosing a CMS are:
- Personalized customer experiences
CMS should consolidate all customer interactions with the company across all channels to enable you to anticipate their needs and offer a personalized customer experience. Organizations are using personalization to build customer loyalty and drive sales.
- Ease of Use
Content management is a multidisciplinary effort that involves marketers, developers, sales personnel, and others who all will be working in the backend. A CMS should have an intuitive user interface (UI) and features that make it simple for even a non-technical resource to use the platform.
- Customization and Integration
The platform should be flexible to allow for the addition of new features and functionalities. It should also integrate with other enterprise applications, such as CRM.
The platform should have robust security protocols and features to keep your site, content, users, and visitors safe. You should use evaluation criteria such as site backup method, software update, security add-on installation, and provision of SSL certificate for the site.
You want a CMS that meets your organization's needs and visitors' expectations and is also within your budget. Proprietary platforms offer different price options with specific features at each price point. You should select the option that helps you optimize cost. You can upgrade or downgrade from a plan, depending on your business and CMS feature requirements.
If you have opted for an open-source CMS then you need to consider the pricing of your implementation partner.
When and why should you choose Drupal?
Being an open-source and secure CMS, Drupal enables you to develop robust web applications to deliver best-in-class online customer experience, a key business driver in today’s digital economy.
Some factors that favor Drupal as a CMS of choice by private and government organizations are:
- General-purpose CMS
Drupal is a general-purpose CMS, unlike other specific-purpose products, that are built for predefined use cases, such as a blog or club membership website. Drupal gives you flexibility and freedom to develop a site as per your specific requirements, rather than trying to adapt to a special-purpose CMS.
Drupal offers a high level of customization with more than 48,000 modules and 3,000 themes in its theme repository. The extensive selection of add-ons and templates enables you to create a site of your choice.
- Customer-centric user experience
Drupal enables organizations to build a customer-centric site that delivers best-in-class experiences. The right set of tools and features enable you to ensure that interactions are personalized and customer-centric.
Drupal has been preferred by organizations, both government and private, because of its ability to handle critical data securely and low vulnerability compared to other CMSes. Drupal has a dedicated group of individuals that manages bug fixes and security updates regularly.
As an open-source platform, Drupal does not require expensive commercial license fees or have restrictive licenses that limit your ability to make modifications and extensions. Drupal gives you the advantage of leveraging the collective wisdom of the worldwide developer community. This makes Drupal cost-effective for an organization, even if they have to use the services of an implementation partner.