If you’ve had a new website developed for your business, or you’re in the middle of that process, you’re going to have With a CMS, youto choose a CMS at some point. That’s because a CMS is a crucial part of the website design and creation process.

But what is a CMS, and why does it matter?

Today, we’re going to cover everything that business owners need to understand about CMSs, and how to choose one. This includes the basic functionality you should expect, as well as some of the extra features you should look out for.

But first, let’s start with the absolute basics.

What is a CMS?

CMS stands for content management system. As the name implies, this is a tool which allows you to manage your digital content. This is done by adding, editing or even deleting the content published on your website.

What is CMS featured

In other words, a CMS is an interface which allows you to make changes to the content on your site. At least, this is the most basic functionality.

This might not seem particularly exciting, but let’s have a quick history lesson.

Once upon a time, there were no dedicated CMS platforms. This meant that if you wanted to add a new page to your website, you had to create it in HTML, and then upload a .txt file containing this code directly to the server which hosted your site.

If you wanted to make even minor changes to a blog article, you had to download the relevant HTML file from your server. You would then have to alter this manually, and reupload it to replace the old version.

This was an involved process. Today, most content marketers wouldn’t even know how to go about manual changes like this. Non-specialists would have very little chance of effectively managing a website.

By contrast, CMS platforms make it possible for just about anyone who can work a computer to create, manage, and profit from websites.

What Is a Content Management System? Benefits of Using a CMS

What Can You Do With a CMS?

All CMS programs include some type of web-based publishing, editing, format management and version control, as well as retrieval, search and indexing of your content. As we’ve said, these are the absolutely basic features of a CMS

The idea behind a CMS platform is that you can make alterations to the content of your site, without having to make any changes to it’s format or design.

With a CMS, you can create and edit content. Typically, you can add additional users, with varying levels of permissions. For instance, you may provide content writers with enough access to create new blog articles, but not change your core site settings. With a headless CMS for Next.js, you can efficiently manage content creation and editing. This allows for flexible user access controls, empowering content contributors to seamlessly add new blog articles while preserving essential site settings integrity.

Some of the most common CMS platforms include WordPress, Squarespace, and WIX.

Pros and Cons: Is a CMS Right for You?

So we’ve established that content management systems make it easy to administer your website, without really requiring any technical nous. Of course, this is a great thing for all sorts of reasons.

But is using a CMS the best way for everyone to manage their website?

What is CMS back end code
A CMS means that you don’t need coding skills to edit your site. Image credit: Ilya Pavlov

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of CMS platforms.

Pros of Using a CMS

Some of the advantages of a CMS include:

  • Content editing is completely separate from the design: The content editing features are separate from the functionality and the design of the site. This means that individuals with no technical training can add, edit and format the content on their site with ease.
  • Selective access permissions: Each user can have specific permissions based on their exact role – i.e. editor, author, administrator, contributor, etc. You can choose to allow some of the users to add and edit the content they create, while providing others with universal access. This will help you maintain security because you can restrict access for certain contributors.
  • Fast updating: With a CMS in place, site updates are both fast and virtually effortless. Even if you are using the administrative interface, design components, such as headers, menus, sidebars and footers are able to be quickly and easily updated on the platform.
  • SEO: Today’s CMS options are extremely SEO-friendly. They often include a wide array of custom page titles, in addition to metadata and adjustable URLs. Some even offer additional features like SEO monitoring and analysis.
Content Management Systems | CMS | What is a Content Management System? | Web Development

Cons of Using a CMS

While it’s important to know the advantages offered by a CMS, it’s just as important that you know the disadvantages, too:

  • Security risks: There are countless hackers out there and many spend much of their time trying to break into CMS platforms. You can avoid this by taking additional security precautions, such as using two-factor authentication.
  • Data breaches: Similarly, data breaches may be more likely on an off-the-shelf CMS platform, as these create a single target for hackers, and your data may become part of a mass-leak. For extremely sensitive industries, this means that custom options may be more appropriate.
  • Issues with design: It’s often hard to transform your site into just what you want. As a result, you may find a CMS platform difficult to use.
    Function limits: There are some different processes that a CMS won’t be able to handle without rewriting the code.

Generally these issues are manageable. At the very least, most can be overcome by engaging a web design agency to create a custom configuration of an existing CMS platform.

Most of the time, a CMS platform is the best way to manage your site. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to choose the best one for your needs.

Exploring the Diverse Landscape of CMS Options: Features and Benefits

The world of Content Management Systems (CMS) offers a vibrant array of options, each catering to specific needs and preferences. Understanding the key features and benefits of popular platforms is crucial for making an informed decision. Here’s a brief overview of some leading CMS options:

1. WordPress:

  • Features: Open-source, user-friendly interface, vast plugin library, extensive theme options, SEO-friendly, blogging functionalities.
  • Benefits: Ideal for beginners, flexible and customizable, wide range of plugins for diverse functionalities, cost-effective.
  • Use cases: Blogs, personal websites, small business websites, portfolios, online stores, news websites.

2. Drupal:

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  • Features: Highly secure, modular architecture, flexible and scalable, suitable for complex websites, robust multi-language capabilities.
  • Benefits: Best for enterprise-level applications, secure and reliable, offers extensive customization options, ideal for large content volumes.
  • Use cases: Enterprise-level websites, complex websites with high traffic, government websites, educational websites, and e-commerce websites.

3. Joomla:

What is a cms? essential guide to content management systems
  • Features: User-friendly interface, open-source, extensive component library, multilingual support, SEO-friendly.
  • Benefits: Easy to learn and use, suitable for small and medium-sized businesses, diverse component library for added functionalities, cost-effective.
  • Use cases: Small and medium-sized business websites, community websites, non-profit websites, e-commerce websites, and multilingual websites.

4. Wix:

What is a cms? essential guide to content management systems
  • Features: Drag-and-drop interface, no coding required, built-in templates, e-commerce functionalities, responsive design.
  • Benefits: Ideal for beginners and non-technical users, quick and easy website creation, user-friendly interface, suitable for small businesses and personal websites.
  • Use cases: Personal websites, small business websites, portfolios, landing pages, online stores.

5. Squarespace:

What is a cms? essential guide to content management systems
  • Features: All-in-one platform, beautiful templates, built-in marketing tools, e-commerce functionalities, SEO-friendly.
  • Benefits: Ideal for creatives and designers, visually appealing websites, easy to use, suitable for online stores and portfolios.
  • Use cases: Creative and design portfolios, photography websites, online stores, artist websites, personal branding websites.

6. HubSpot CMS:

What is a cms? essential guide to content management systems
  • Features: Integrated marketing and sales tools, drag-and-drop interface, personalized content delivery, lead generation tools, built-in analytics.
  • Benefits: Ideal for businesses focused on inbound marketing and lead generation, provides a complete marketing solution, simplifies content management and marketing efforts.
  • Use cases: Marketing websites, lead generation websites, landing page creation, content management for marketing campaigns, inbound marketing initiatives.

7. Contentful:

What is a cms? essential guide to content management systems
  • Features: Headless CMS, API-driven content delivery, flexible content structure, scalability, multi-channel publishing.
  • Benefits: Ideal for developers and complex websites, flexible content management, supports multi-channel content delivery, future-proof solution.
  • Use cases: Mobile apps, web applications, multi-channel content delivery, headless CMS for complex websites, content personalization.

8. Ghost:

What is a cms? essential guide to content management systems
  • Features: Open-source, focused on blogging, minimalist interface, clean code, fast performance, SEO-friendly.
  • Benefits: Ideal for bloggers and writers, simple and focused platform, fast and efficient, suitable for high-traffic blogs.
  • Use cases: Blogs, personal blogs, professional blogs, online magazines, content creation platforms.

9. Shopify:

What is a cms? essential guide to content management systems
  • Features: E-commerce platform, built-in online store functionalities, inventory management, payment processing, and marketing tools.
  • Benefits: Ideal for online businesses, comprehensive e-commerce solution, easy to set up and manage online store, secure and reliable platform.
  • Use cases: Online stores, e-commerce businesses, physical stores with online presence, subscription box businesses, dropshipping businesses.

10. BigCommerce:

What is a cms? essential guide to content management systems
  • Features: E-commerce platform, scalability for large businesses, B2B functionalities, SEO-friendly, built-in marketing tools.
  • Benefits: Ideal for large online businesses, handles high volumes of transactions, caters to B2B needs, robust and scalable platform.
  • Use cases: Large online businesses, high-volume e-commerce stores, B2B businesses, wholesalers, businesses with complex product catalogs.
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How to Choose a CMS Platform

Of course, the best CMS platform for you will depend on your specific needs, as well as your personal preferences, or the preferences of your staff.

However, here are some of the most important variables you should look out for when choosing a CMS solution.


This should be pretty obvious. When investing in any kind of business tool, it’s vital to decide how much you can afford to spend ahead of time. This is especially important when choosing a CMS, because there is so much variation in pricing.

For instance, you can get a CMS solution which is viable for some uses without paying any money at all. By contrast, you could easily spend into the tens of thousands for the most extreme bespoke configurations.

The key is to balance the functionality you require, with what you can afford to pay. Generally, the best way to do this is to consult with an experienced digital agency.


Integrations are third-party tools which expand the functionality of your CMS platform. When choosing a new website management system, you should always look out for integrations with any other systems you currently use.

For example, if you run an ecommerce store, it’s best if your CMS platform integrates properly with your CRM and your stock management system. You don’t want to buy a new CMS only to find that it doesn’t work with any of your other systems.

In fact, this can be a very costly mistake, as it means you’ll either have to buy a second new CRM license, or replace any incompatible systems.


Tech support is an invaluable safety net for small businesses. That is, good customer support means that you can be confident that any issues with your site will be resolved quickly, before they hurt your revenue.

When choosing any kind of digital business tool, always aim to buy from a company with a strong track record of customer service and user support.


Of course, one of the basic reasons for purchasing a CMS is that it makes your website’s backend easier to use. While actual usability is obviously a major part of this, it’s also important to account for what CMS programs your staff are already familiar with.

Especially if you run a large enterprise.

Purchasing a new CMS platform is already often a major cost. It doesn’t make sense to then spend additional money training your staff how to use it, when choosing a different platform which they know how to use may have worked out cheaper overall.

Choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) for your website can be a daunting task, especially with so many options available. To help you navigate the landscape, here’s a comparison of some of the most popular platforms:

1. WordPress vs. Drupal vs. Joomla:

These three platforms are the most widely used CMS options, but they cater to different needs and skill levels:

User-friendlinessEasy to use, ideal for beginnersMore complex learning curve, better for developersModerate learning curve, suitable for users with some technical knowledge
Flexibility and customizationHighly customizable with plugins and themesExtremely flexible but requires coding knowledgeCustomizable through extensions and templates
ScalabilitySuitable for websites of all sizesScalable for high-traffic websites and complex applicationsScalable for medium to large-sized websites
CostFree core software, paid themes and pluginsFree core software, paid modules and themesFree core software, paid extensions and templates
Best forBlogs, personal websites, small business websites, e-commerce websitesEnterprise-level websites, complex websites, government websites, educational websitesSmall and medium-sized business websites, community websites, non-profit websites, e-commerce websites

2. Wix vs. Squarespace:

These two platforms are popular choices for beginners and non-technical users due to their drag-and-drop interfaces:

User-friendlinessExtremely user-friendly, drag-and-drop interfaceVery user-friendly, intuitive interface
Flexibility and customizationLimited customization optionsModerately customizable with templates and modules
ScalabilitySuitable for small websitesSuitable for small to medium-sized websites
CostPaid monthly plansPaid monthly plans
Best forPersonal websites, small business websites, portfolios, landing pagesCreative and design portfolios, photography websites, online stores, artist websites, personal branding websites

3. HubSpot CMS vs. Contentful:

These platforms are ideal for businesses that prioritize content marketing and headless CMS solutions:

FeatureHubSpot CMSContentful
FocusContent marketing, lead generationHeadless CMS, content delivery
Marketing toolsExtensive marketing tools built-inNo built-in marketing tools
Ease of useModerately easy to use, requires some technical knowledgeRequires technical expertise for implementation
ScalabilityScalable for large websites and high trafficHighly scalable for complex content delivery
CostPaid monthly plansPaid monthly plans
Best forMarketing websites, lead generation websites, landing page creation, content management for marketing campaignsMobile apps, web applications, multi-channel content delivery, headless CMS for complex websites, content personalization

4. Shopify vs. BigCommerce:

These platforms are leading e-commerce solutions for online businesses of all sizes:

Ease of useEasy to use, beginner-friendlyModerately easy to use, requires some technical knowledge
FeaturesBuilt-in e-commerce functionalities, basic marketing toolsExtensive e-commerce features, B2B functionalities, advanced marketing tools
ScalabilityScalable for growing businessesHighly scalable for large online businesses
CostPaid monthly plansPaid monthly plans
Best forSmall and medium-sized online storesLarge online stores, B2B businesses, wholesalers, businesses with complex product catalogs

Choosing a CMS: An Important Decision for Your Business

Ultimately, the best CMS for you depends on your specific needs, technical skills, and budget. Consider the following factors:

  • Website size and complexity
  • Desired features and functionality
  • Budget limitations
  • Technical expertise
  • Scalability needs

By carefully comparing different options and aligning them with your project requirements, you can choose a CMS that empowers your website to thrive.

We recommend taking professional advice from an agency on the ideal CMS for your company. This will be a tool which you will use long into the future, so it makes sense to choose the right one straight off the bat.

Ease of use, access and integrations are all important considerations. You’ll want to take time to get this decision right now instead of having to backtrack later, as this will potentially lead to wasted money.

Implementing Your Chosen CMS:

  • Sign up for a hosting account: Choose a reliable web hosting provider that supports your chosen CMS platform.
  • Install and configure the CMS: Follow the installation instructions provided by your chosen platform.
  • Select a theme and customize your website design: Choose a pre-designed theme or customize it further to match your brand and vision.
  • Add content and pages: Create content for your website pages, including text, images, and videos.
  • Install and activate plugins: Extend your website’s functionality with relevant plugins and extensions.
  • Optimize your website for search engines: Utilize built-in SEO features and implement best practices to improve search engine ranking.
  • Test and launch your website: Test your website thoroughly before launching it to the public.
  • Maintain and update your website: Regularly update your CMS platform, plugins, and website content.

Additional Resources:

Investing in a CMS empowers you to build a dynamic and user-friendly website without the need for extensive technical expertise. By understanding the benefits, choosing the right platform, and following these implementation steps, you can leverage the power of CMS to create a thriving online presence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is a CMS and what does it do?

A Content Management System (CMS) is a software application that allows you to create, edit, and manage the content on your website without needing to know any coding. It provides a user-friendly interface for creating pages, adding content, and managing your website’s overall structure and functionality.

2. Who can benefit from using a CMS?

Anyone who wants to create and manage a website can benefit from using a CMS. This includes individuals, small businesses, large corporations, and even government agencies. CMS platforms are especially helpful for those who are not technical experts, as they allow you to build and manage a website without needing to know any coding.

3. What are the different types of CMS platforms?

There are many different types of CMS platforms available, each with its own unique features and benefits. Some of the most popular CMS platforms include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Wix, Squarespace, HubSpot CMS, Contentful, Ghost, Shopify, and BigCommerce.

4. How do I choose the right CMS platform for my website?

The best CMS platform for your website will depend on your specific needs and requirements. Some factors to consider include the size and complexity of your website, your technical expertise, your budget, and your desired features and functionality.

5. What are the benefits of using a CMS?

There are many benefits to using a CMS, including:

  • Ease of use: CMS platforms are designed to be user-friendly, even for people who are not tech-savvy.
  • Flexibility and customization: Most CMS platforms offer a wide range of themes, plugins, and extensions that you can use to customize your website to your specific needs.
  • Scalability: CMS platforms are scalable, so they can grow with your business.
  • Security: CMS platforms are regularly updated with security patches, which helps to keep your website safe from cyberattacks.
  • SEO optimization: Many CMS platforms include built-in SEO features that can help you improve your website’s ranking in search engine results.

6. What are the costs of using a CMS?

The cost of using a CMS will vary depending on the platform you choose and the features you need. Some CMS platforms are free to use, while others require a paid subscription. You will also need to factor in the cost of web hosting, domain name registration, and any additional plugins or themes you may need.


Content Management Systems (CMS) offer a powerful and flexible solution for building and managing websites of all sizes and complexities.

By understanding the benefits of using a CMS, choosing the right platform for your needs, and following the implementation steps outlined in this guide, you can leverage the power of this technology to create a compelling and successful online presence.

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