What is a CMS?
CMS is a web design abbreviation for Content Management System. It’s an application used to create - and then run - your website. As a general starting point, all CMS options have an admin panel. From this dashboard you can create and update pages, posts, blogs and all other media like images and videos. You can use this panel to organise your content in a way that works for your website.
You can use your CMS admin panel to edit the design, format and aesthetic of your site. You can install “themes” or design templates and then edit and tailor them for the needs of your site.
With lots of CMS options available with a wide range of functions and prices to suit any business’s budget, you’ll need to make sure you choose the right CMS for your needs.
What do you want from your CMS?
Whether you’re looking for a CMS with specialist functions, such as CMS to be used with an online store, or a more general management system that allows for easy tweaks and updates to content there will be a system that’s right for you.
There are CMS systems on the market that can practically think for themselves, and there are others that are simply meant to provide a space for publishing blogs and other content.
Make a plan for the functions your CMS will definitely need, and also think of secondary functions that could be a bonus, but aren’t essential. Refer to this list when checking the specifications for each possible CMS option. Hopefully this will make the decision-making process a whole lot easier.
Consider the following:
- What would you like your CMS to do? Which of the following will be your priority?
- Ease of use
- Building large scale sites
- Shop function
- Multiple user access
- Full customisation
It doesn’t make sense to choose a CMS that the your admins will struggle to operate, or that isn’t customisable to meet the specific challenges of your business.
What’s your budget?
Set a budget for your CMS. There is no set cost of a content management system. It’s almost a case of “how long is a piece of string”. By sticking to you necessary functions (and not getting suckered into a package with all sorts of bells and whistles you won’t need) you should be able to keep the cost of your CMS to a minimum.
If you’re just starting out, there are lots of free CMS options available to you as well. This is less popular for established businesses, as you’ll generally end up without a fully customisable URL. A big no-no for companies!
Content Management Systems on the market - a snapshot
Top for stylistic tailoring - Squarespace.
This CMS allows your site to be much more tailored to your style than with competing options like Wordpress. Squarespace allows “drag and drop CMS” which is super easy for the less confident developer.
Top for creating ecommerce sites - Shopify.
Shopify seems to be top of the tree in terms of affordable ecommerce site CMSs at the moment. It allows for quick and easy product updates and you can also link your Shopify site with your company’s Facebook page to allow for Facebook purchasing.
Top, for being top - Wordpress.
Wordpress has been the top dog of the CMS world for a long time. It’s still the most popular CMS on the market. It can be a bit more “code-y” than some people might like but it’s a great way to get to grips with coding.
Top for quick and easy edits - Bigg.
This might be a bit of a sneaky one to include on the list, being that it’s our own CMS and everything. We really do believe the CMS we built is the most straightforward for quick edits, content updates and general front-end tweaks. Meaning that our clients can add events, change contact details and put blogs online with the ease of editing an InDesign document.
Top “all rounders” - Drupal & Joomla!
Both of these options could be accused of being a bit old and redundant. However, they both have their plus points. They can both be free, are relatively easy to use and there are plenty of online tutorials available to go along with them.
Top free CMS - Wix
If budget is your biggest concern, Wix could be the CMS for you. It’s free, pretty easy to use and has a good range of aesthetic and functionality options for you.