The Basics of Content Management System (CMS)

Jul 2nd, 2021 | Faizan Thange

A Content Management (CMS) that fits your business needs will help to simplify your content management model. It can be used to publish content quickly and easily, and for deploying content with minimum or no developer help, enabling real-time content updates. This article focuses on the basics of Content Management Systems – what they are and what they provide, the different types available, and the most popular providers – as well as some considerations for how to choose the right CMS for your business.

What is a Content Management System?

Content plays a vital role in today’s digital world. In simple words, a Content Management System is computer software used to manage the creation and modification of your digital content. Content Management Systems are commonly used for blogging/community platforms, enterprise content management, and web content management.

Common CMS Features:

  • Robust Content Templates
  • Digital asset management (DAM)
  • Comprehensive Search
  • Versioning for Quick Rollback
  • Simple Workflow/Graphical Workflow
  • Multichannel publishing
  • Localization support
  • Authorized access control
  • Security
  • Extensibility
  • Detailed Analytics

Additional features:

  • Global change capabilities
  • Structural flexibility
  • Social Media Integration
  • Built-In SEO Tools
  • Microdata Support for Voice Search

These are the basic features nowadays every CMS provides.

CMS Architecture

Modern day CMS platforms generally follow one of the following 3 architectures.

  1. Traditional CMS – monolith architecture
  2. Headless CMS – micro-service architecture
  3. Decoupled CMS – hybrid architecture

  4. Traditional CMS:

    A traditional CMS commonly follows monolithic architecture because it works alone as a single solution for all specifications. As a single solution, traditional CMS architecture is mainly divided into two parts Admin and Delivery.

    The Content Management tier has consoles and interfaces to manage content – for e.g. adding, updating, and deleting the content in CMS.

    Whereas, the Content Delivery tier generally deals with consuming and rendering the content to various channels such as web, social, and mobile. We can also call it a presentation layer of traditional CMS.

    Architecture: Content Management + Content Delivery

    Headless CMS

    Headless CMS’s primary focus is on Content Management interfaces. They generally contain interfaces or constructs which allow you to define content types and manage content. Most of the headless CMS are available as SAAS (Software as a Service). Headless CMS’s are great for omnichannel content delivery as they expose all content via an API endpoint allowing you to consume that content in a website, mobile app or any channel or application you desire.

    Headless CMS’s also often provide Software Development Kits (SDKs) and tooling necessary to build applications for several languages thus enabling your developers with complete freedom of choice when it comes to technology or framework used for building their application or site.

    Architecture: Content Management + APIs

    Decoupled CMS

    Decoupled or Hybrid CMS is a combination of Traditional and Headless CMS, where Content Management is separated from Delivery via an the API. In this, you can use traditional Delivery capabilities provided by the CMS but additionally also build applications of your own which consume content via APIs as well.

    Architecture: Content Management + Content Delivery + APIs.

    Benefits of Traditional CMS

    1. Easy to set up & use – Traditional CMS’s come with a friendly Graphical User Interface (GUI) so anyone can create, update or delete the content-based business needs.
    2. Everything is in one place – Traditional CMS’s will have every core feature included – it will have Frontend + Backend, components, and out-of-the-box usability.
    3. Straightforward pricing – You pay for only one system and because it comes with strict specifications, costing will be clear and in most cases it will be a fixed cost (no surprise costs down the road).

    Why Enterprises Should Choose Traditional CMS

    A traditional CMS can be used for simpler websites – like personal sites & blogs – as well as large enterprise-level sites like e-commerce, community forums, and much more. Traditional CMS providers tend to be well-known and mature, and as such have built up a high level of reliability and strong community support.

    The most commonly known traditional CMS providers are:

    1. WordPress
    2. Wix – a cloud-based platform
    3. Adobe Experience Manager*
    4. Sitecore*

    Limitations of Traditional CMS

    1. Channel Specific Content – You can’t use the same content for mobile or smartwatches which you use for web apps.
    2. Technology Constraints – Designed and bounded in one box so you can only use supported technologies included in the specifications.
    3. Updates are time-consuming & expensive – As upgrades are rolled out to the existing system, the whole system can be impacted which can increase effort & cost.

    Benefits of Headless CMS

    1. Easy to Redesign – Since a Headless CMS is decoupled from the front-end, a redesign will be easy and quick, and even scalability could be smooth as the front-end and back-end are decoupled from one another.
    2. Omnichannel – A headless CMS gives a single API endpoint to consume the content for multiple channels.
    3. Flexibility – There are no technology barriers with a Headless CMS. For example, you can switch from React to Angular with ease. The developer will have flexibility while choosing technology even before content creation begins.
    4. Efficient – You can deliver the same content to multiple changes without any extra cost.

    Why Enterprises Should Choose Headless CMS

    As content delivery channels are increasing on the internet, the Headless CMS approach allows brands to handle multiple interaction channels, and if you add a new or modify any existing channel it will not affect the whole system.

    Headless CMS can also be used as a Traditional CMS with a front-end framework. Some of the well known Headless CMS providers are:

    1. Contentstack
    2. Contentful
    3. Adobe Experience Manager*
    4. Sitecore*

    Limitations of Headless CMS

    1. No Content Preview – A preview of the content is not available as it is decoupled from the front-end. You can only view the content after it’s been published.
    2. Dependency on the developer – Since it is fully built with form builders, widgets, and input, there will be a dependency on the developer at the start.

    How to Choose the CMS That Suits Your Organization

    It’s very important to choose the right Content Management System which will meet all your business requirements and be cost-effective. Knowing the capabilities of each CMS is the first step to choosing the best system for your organization.

    To make the decision easier and to understand your product needs, the following factors should be considered:

    1. Product Requirements – Understanding the requirements of business/product that you want to build within the CMS.
    2. Need of end user – How your CMS product should reach the end user so it can increase your profit.
    3. Targeting channels – How many digital devices or IoT devices are you targeting first?
    4. Technical ability of developers – How well your developers or content creators are trained on the CMS and whether the chosen CMS is easy and quick to learn.
    5. Time & budget – The most important point you should consider is the time and budget you’re looking for.

    When we talk about future scope, we must also consider headless as future-proof technology because it’s a Software as a Service (SaaS), where your CMS is hosted on the cloud and you can perform content creation and management there. SaaS will also give you an API endpoint from which you can consume authored content on any device (or any IoT device).

    As user expectations and the internet itself continue to grow proportionally, there may be numerous possibilities for additional user channels where they will be accessing the same shared content. If you want to know more about Content Management Systems and need consultation on choosing the right one for your business, feel free to Contact, Call or email us.