What is a Content Management System and How Can it Help Your Business?

what is a content management system

What is a content management system? A content management system (CMS) is software designed to create, edit, organize and publish digital content. If you’re a small business, you can gain a lot from using CMS technology to create and manage content without much technical know-how or a hefty budget.

Take a look at what exactly a content management system is, what the benefits are, and which one is right for your business.

What is a Content Management System?

what is a content management system

A CMS takes care of the backend coding of a website. By creating templates, CMSs allow multiple users to manage the content, information and data of a website, project or internet application. By using a control panel or administration, a CMS enables businesses to create, edit, publish, archive content and then distribute such content, data and information quickly and efficiently.

Through an easy-to-use CMS, businesses can create, edit, publish and archive web pages, as well as blogs, articles, press releases and events. They can also add and edit product and services descriptions, product specifications, prices, photos, videos and more by using the CMS.

Website statistics can also be viewed and reported through a CMS. Businesses can also create and edit different users for the system, which have various permission and administration levels.

Why Small Businesses Need to Know About CMS

what is a content management system

Having an online presence is essential for small business success. Websites have become the ‘shop windows’ of many small businesses, allowing them to promote and sell their products and services to a global audience without the expense of having a bricks and mortar store.

Having a website allows small businesses to remain competitive. Such are the benefits having an online presence brings to small businesses, it comes as little surprise that research shows an increasing percentage of small businesses are building websites and investing in digital marketing.

As not all small business owners are comfortable with technology, the beauty of a CMS is that it allows small businesses to build and manage a website in an easy and cost-effective way.

what is a content management system

When only using the basic functions of a CMS, little time needs to go into training teams on how to use and manage a small business website and digital content. Subsequently, a small business with little money or time to invest in digital marketing can compete with competitors which are active online and reach out to a global audience without a hefty budget.


Benefits of Content Management Systems

what is a content management system

Content Management Systems have revolutionized the digital landscape, allowing businesses to create, manage, and optimize their online presence with ease and efficiency. Here are five key benefits of using a CMS:

  • Cost-Effective Solution: CMSs eliminate the need for constant web developer involvement, cutting down maintenance costs. Open-source CMSs, in particular, are free to download and use, making them an attractive option for small businesses with limited budgets.
  • User-Friendly Interface: CMS platforms, like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, are designed with non-tech-savvy users in mind. Their intuitive dashboards enable users to update content, add images, or tweak the website design without needing in-depth technical knowledge.
  • Customization and Consistency: CMS platforms offer a wide array of plugins, themes, and extensions. Businesses can tailor their websites to reflect their brand, ensuring a consistent and professional appearance across all pages.
  • Integration Capabilities: Modern CMSs can seamlessly integrate with other essential business applications, including asset management tools, CRM systems, and e-commerce platforms, creating a holistic digital ecosystem.
  • SEO and Mobile Optimization: Many CMS platforms have built-in SEO tools and mobile-responsive themes. This ensures the website ranks well on search engines and provides an optimal user experience across devices, expanding reach and potential customer engagement.

What Type of CMS is Right for your Business?

what is a content management system

There are effectively two types of content management systems for your business to consider — open source platforms and proprietary platforms.

Open source CMSs, such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, are the most popular types of CMS, as they are easy to use and can be customized based on your business’s requirements. These platforms are updated and improved regularly by coders and are free to download and use.

The affordability of open source CMSs make them an attractive option for small businesses. However, security and the risk of hacking continues to be a pressing concern of these types of content management systems.

Proprietary CMS platforms are developed and updated by one company. These CMSs are tailored to meet the individual needs of a business. However, proprietary CMSs comes with a licensing fee and are therefore a costlier type of CMS for a business to run.

Which type of CMS you opt for is dependent on your marketing budget and the individual circumstances and needs of your business.

If you are wanting to improve the online presence of your business without having to invest heavily in website management, getting to grips with a CMS could be the perfect tool in helping your business optimize its digital presence.

Open Source CMS vs. Proprietary CMS

AspectOpen Source CMSProprietary CMS
ExamplesWordPress, Joomla, DrupalCustom-developed by specific companies
PopularityMost popular due to accessibility and community supportLess popular due to fewer installations and higher costs
Ease of UseTypically user-friendly with community supportTailored to individual business needs; may have a learning curve
CustomizationHighly customizable with extensive plugins and themesCustom features can be built, but often at an additional cost
Updates & ImprovementsRegularly updated by a community of codersUpdated by the developing company, potentially less frequently
CostFree to download, but may have costs for premium pluginsComes with a licensing fee; overall higher TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)
Security ConcernsSome risk due to broad usage making it a targetGenerally more secure but depends on the company's diligence
ScalabilityVaries, but some can handle very large sitesOften built for scalability, especially if tailored for larger enterprises
Support & MaintenanceCommunity-driven support; third-party developers availableDedicated support from the proprietary company, often as part of the licensing fee
Integration CapabilitiesExtensive, given the wide range of plugins and open natureSpecific integrations can be built, but might be costlier and more time-consuming
Ownership & ControlFull control and ownership, no vendor lock-inSome level of dependence on the developing company; potential for vendor lock-in
Best Suited ForSmall to medium businesses, and even some large enterprises looking for flexibility and a broad feature setBusinesses with specific, unique needs, or those who prefer a single point of contact for issues, and have a budget for licensing fees


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Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. She is based in the United Kingdom and since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".