What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

Posted in: Blog, CMS by on August 16, 2010

WorkspaceA website is made up of one or more web pages. Each web page is fetched by a web server (from either files, or databases, or some combination of the two), packaged into envelopes for traversal through the internet, and presented on your computer monitor by a web browser. A small website may consist of just a couple of web pages, each represented by a single file on the web server. But a typical website can quickly grow to dozens, or even hundreds of web pages. This would be nearly impossible to manage if each web page was a separate file. That’s where the CMS comes in.

The magic of a CMS involves some underlying technology that we will not go into (such as PHP and SSI). Instead of managing individual files, a CMS manages content. You input pieces of content into the CMS, and it presents the content on any number of web pages. A CMS is also (typically) database driven. This means that content, along with settings and other pieces of metadata, are kept in a database instead of individual files. The CMS will fetch the data from the database and display it in a predefined manner.

With a CMS, managing a full website is as easy as sending an email or creating a Word document. Instead of hiring someone to make changes to you web pages, you can do it. It also makes creating large websites more cost efficient. A CMS will also make changing site structure easy. For instance, if you once had a page called “Services” that listed every service you offered, and you decided you needed to separate “Services” into “Landscaping Services” and “Home Repair Services”, the CMS would make that possible without requiring a developer.