Content management systems are the cornerstone of Internet marketing. They allow those of us lacking coding and web publishing skills the ability to easily create, promote and profit from websites.
Without user-friendly content management systems it would be much more difficult to create and deliver the oceans of online information out there. Not only do these systems bring order to the chaos; they also level the playing field.
If you don’t know HTML, PHP, CSS and other vital coding languages, then you’d be forced to hire those who do if you wanted to create even the simplest of websites. This would erect barriers to entry in our line of work that would severely limit newcomers, beginners and those who don’t have a lot of capital to invest.
Understanding how content management works and what makes a good content management platform is an important cornerstone of your Internet marketing education. Master these fundamentals and you’ll be on your way to conquering the web.
What Exactly is Content Management?
In its most basic format, a content management system (CMS) is a computer program that allows for the creation, organization, storage and deployment of files that make up a website.
They can be simple or extremely complex. They can be open source and free to all those who want to use them, paid software or privately developed systems for an organization’s use.
Let’s Get Technical
A CMS will be comprised of two parts:
- Content Management Application (CMA): This is the part of the program that allows us to create, modify or remove content from a site without having to know coding languages like HTML or PHP.
- Content Delivery Application (CDA): This part of the program compiles the information created or edited in the CMA and publishes it to the web site.
While this may seem basic to anyone who has used a CMS such as WordPress, it’s quite powerful and makes what we do possible without a lot of money and expertise.
What Content Management Means to You
As it stands now, you can create a website in less than 10 minutes. You can go from an idea to actual content published on the web in virtually the blink of an eye.
Never in the history of mankind has the creation and distribution of information been so easily accessible. This is due, in large part, to easy-to-use content management platforms. You don’t need a lot of money, expertise or experience to create and publish information that can be accessed all over the world.
In a more practical sense, imagine how hard it would be if every time you wanted to create, edit or remove content from your website: You’d have to engage the services of a webmaster who is well versed in all of the appropriate coding skills. The time and cost would greatly slow any online marketing endeavor and block a lot of marketers from joining the fray.
The Best Content Management Systems
Content management systems make the marketing world go round. But when it comes to choosing a CMS to use, you have a lot of choices.
While using a CMS is designed to be as easy as possible, there is still a sizeable investment of time and resources you must devote to become even a moderately decent user. If this is going to be the platform you base your site off of, you’ll need to understand it the best you can to maximize its abilities.
Here's my breakdown of the top platforms and why they deserve your consideration:
By far the most popular content management system out there is WordPress.
Originally, it gained popularity as a blogging platform, but Wordpress is also a robust content management platform for all kinds of websites.
The versatile open-source platform has been elevated by hordes of developers and designers who make seemingly endless plugins and themes that fit almost any need. WordPress by far has the largest base of developers and that means the most versatility and flexibility for the end users.
Since WordPress has so many loyal followers there is documentation until the cows come home on just about anything you can think of. If you’ve experienced a problem, want to test something new or have a need, chances are someone else has too. If you can’t find a free resource online to resolve your issue, then there are tons of freelance experts who can probably whip something up for a very reasonable cost.
If you’re looking for a simple, flexible and widely adopted platform, then go with WordPress.
Next in popularity to WordPress is Drupal.
This platform was designed as a pure CMS and was never pigeon-holed as a blogging system like WordPress was by so many. The basic installation of Drupal allows you to set up a variety of content management variations, such as forums, blogs, profiles, member sites and much more.
Drupal also has a loyal developer base that produces some very high-quality additions to the system, along with design improvements such as themes. And much like WordPress, a large customer base means there are plenty of free and paid resources out there for you to tap into.
The final of the big three content management platforms is Joomla. This system is a very advanced CMS, but isn’t necessarily complex to the end user. However, it is so robust that if all you’re doing is making a basic site, Joomla might be overkill.
If you’re looking for configurability, then Joomla is the way to go. It has many intuitive features and supports access control for third-party systems like OpenID and Gmail.
And Joomla isn’t shy when it comes to available extensions. This platform boasts more than 3,200 extensions with a zealous developer community behind them.
However, you are more than likely going to have to pay for additional functionality in the form of plugins and themes. Where WordPress offers many free alternatives, Joomla is more apt to charge you.
Only the Beginning
The CMS you choose to create, edit and publish your content is a vital piece of your marketing campaign but it is just one of the many building blocks.
While time and research should be put into your selection of a content management system, don’t analyze this decision to death. You don’t want to hold up your content creation because you’re weighting the pros and cons of different platforms.
The more important factors in your success will be the content you create, the back links you build and the keywords you select, amongst others.
Focus your time and energy on those after you have decided on a CMS and marketing success will be yours.
What are your experiences with content management systems? What's your preference and why? Let us know in the comments!