What is a CMS and Why do I Need One?


Published: December 2, 2019 Author: Jason Holicky - Hometown Design Studio Inc.
What is a CMS and Why do I Need One?

Whether you’re considering a new website for your business or are looking for ways to make your current site more effective, you’ve probably run into the word “content” plenty of times along with a few mentions of how important content is to your marketing strategy. Content can be anything from photos, graphics, and videos to the words on your web pages and blog posts. Keeping tabs on all your bits of content can be overwhelming, and that’s where a Content Management System (CMS) comes in.

What is a CMS?
A content management system (CMS) is software that stores and organizes all the content for your website. There are tools and plugins to make sure your content is formatted correctly, themes to make sure the look of all your pages are consistent, and ways to set up headers, footers, and your site’s navigation. In other words, a CMS is there to organize your content and to make sure everything looks the way it should online.

CMS Options
There are several do-it-yourself CMS programs that people can use to build their own websites. Sites such as Wix and Squarespace are common choices, but they come with some limitations that can make customization difficult or impossible (plus a monthly fee just to keep it online). These can be great options for personal sites because it’s fairly easy to put a basic site together. However, for businesses, there’s no hope for scalability, switching templates can be a major headache and ruin functionality, and mobile compatibility can be limited or missing entirely.

WordPress is another popular option, and it’s a much more versatile tool that allows for custom templates, easier redesign and switching of templates, and for creating mobile-ready sites. WordPress, however, was built for blogging so it can be very limited in terms of page functionality and scalability for growing companies. It’s perfect for small businesses, information-only websites, and, of course, bloggers.

Lastly, web developers can create their own CMS solutions that don’t require monthly subscriptions and can be customized according to their own needs and the needs of their clients.

Why Use a CMS?
Aside from the ability to organize and manage your content, a CMS will allow non-developers to edit and update their website’s content without having to take a course in programming. The front-end interface (that would be the part that you see and use) is user-friendly, intuitive, and typically uses buttons and other accessible functions rather than requiring HTML coding to add, change, or remove elements.

Your web developer will take care of all the coding and technical details when building your site, but you’ll have easy access to the content itself. For example, if you want to update the business hours listed on your website, you can hop in there yourself and make the change quickly rather than having to submit a request and wait for your tech team. (Bonus: this also frees up your budget and the developer’s time so they can focus on adding features, fixing bugs, updating systems, and everything else that does require several courses in programming.)

A CMS will also put you in control of your site’s blog. It would quickly become a hassle if you had to contact your web support team every time you’ve written a blog post and would like it to be posted. Or, if you’ve discovered an old post with outdated or inaccurate information, you can pop right in there and change the text. A CMS will also contain all the tools you need to easily add photos, links, and other elements to your pages and posts.

A Word About Content
While a CMS will make managing your content simpler and easier, it doesn’t create the content for you. What you put into your CMS is far more important than the CMS itself as it’s really just a container for your website’s bits and pieces. High quality, unique content is still critical to the success of your SEO and marketing strategy.

In other words, using a CMS should make your content creation and publication process uncomplicated and painless because you don’t have to worry so much about the technical details or whether your web developer is available to make a change or post an update. Instead, your time and attention can be focused on creating the kind of quality content that search engines like Google love to push to the top of the search results.

About the Author

Creative Director Jason co-founded Hometown Design Studio of New Lenox, IL in 2013. He spends his days guiding and consulting industrial clients and small businesses owners on their marketing strategy and projects. Jason enables everyone to be successful and grow their business by sharing his knowledge and experience.
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