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"CMS" is an abbreviation for Content Management System, which refers to a server-side program/script that allows for centralized publishing and editing of a Web site (normally) through a unified back-end/administration area.

While there are a number of both open-source and private CMS' available, the most commonly used varieties are of the open source variety (community driven, free to use) such as Drupal, Wordpress and Joomla.

Drupal

Drupal logo

Drupal is our favorite CMS out of the open-source options; it's highly flexible, powerful, well coded, and enjoys significant module contributions which make for a great starting point for just about any type of site, from the simple to the most intricate.

  • Pros: Highly flexible and very powerful, can be set up for just about any purpose.
  • Cons: While easy to administrate when set up properly, still not quite as intuitive as Wordpress.

Wordpress

Wordpress logo

Wordpress is an excellent CMS for smaller web sites primarily because of it's ease of use. Out of the box, it features a very user-friendly administration area and content editor, originally designed for those who need to add text-based content frequently and easily.

While there are an ever-growing number of modules that extend the functionality of Wordpress, adding certain functionality and/or customizing certain aspects of a WP site can be significantly more difficult (if not impossible) compared to using a more flexible Drupal base.

  • Pros: Easy to set up, easy to use and easy to update. A good option for relatively simple sites.
  • Cons: Not as flexible as other content management systems.

Joomla

Joomla logo

Joomla is a popular options for many as it is very expandable, offers a wide variety of options and is very user friendly to administer (usually). Unfortunately, from our experience much of the code is outdated and/or convoluted making it more difficult to work with, as well as causing potential display problems and search engine issues (though it has certainly improved.)

  • Pros: Many modules available for quick expansion, easy for administrators to use, large community.
  • Cons: Utilizes depreciated code for many basic functions, makes customizations more difficult.

Different content management systems have different functionality, but generally have the following in common:

  • They allow you to add content easily:
    A CMS allows for the easy addition of various types of content through browser-based forms. Pages are easily created through a word-processor style editor that's familiar to most (with no HTML knowledge required), images are easily inserted into posts, and files are easily uploaded.
  • They allow you to modify content easily:
    Using the same editor, a CMS allows for easy modifications to existing content.
  • They allow you to easily sort, monitor and administer all your sites content:
    A single administration area again allows you to view and search through all your content, sort by various factors such as posted date, last edited, by section/category and much more. This makes it easy to find items that may need to be adjusted or removed at a later date.

In a nutshell; content management systems make it simple for you and/or your staff to manage most aspects
of your web site with relative ease, once it's been set up properly to accommodate your needs.