Enigma Digital


What is a CMS?

Posted by Maeve, 5 Oct, 2010 | 1 Comment »

CMS is web-talk for Content Management System. Building your website using a CMS allows you to easily edit the content of the site through a backend admin interface, often using a visual editor very similar to how you would edit a Microsoft Word document. The aim of a CMS is to make it nice and easy for the average Joe to edit his own website text, images and navigation.

I have worked with many CMS’s, both open source and proprietary, and have several criteria for judging them:

1. User Interface. How intuitive is the admin area for the end-user? Ideally a CMS should present an editing interface that requires no technical background and is simple, and easily accessible to everyone. Most CMS’s have ‘user roles’ to help with this – an ‘administrator’ might get full access to all the settings, where as an ‘editor’ might have a more simplified backend area.

2. Flexibility for Growth. Once your site is built and live a CMS will help you keep the content fresh and up to date. But it’s also important that the platform itself keeps evolving. If you’re going with an open-source CMS ensure there is a large and active community of developers attached to it. If you’re using a proprietary system you’ll want to make sure the company who owns it is sticking around and is committed to maintaining and supporting it.  Also think about adding functionality in the future. That’s one of the core reasons I love to develop with WordPress CMS – it has a vast collection of free Plugins (read more in my article here) to extend your website as needed. To my mind this is one of the major advantages of an open-source CMS.

3. Great Code. To make the cut a CMS needs to have clean, standard compliant, search engine friendly code.  ‘Nuff said.

4. Customisable Design. What’s the point of great content and great code if it’s so ugly that humans can’t bear to look at it? A website built with a CMS is no exception – it needs to allow for a fully customisable front-end design. And of course that design should rock!

Got questions or comments about CMS’s? What’s your favourite CMS and why? Share your thoughts here and get involved in some discussion on the topic.


Maeve is an experienced UI designer and front end developer. Aside from designing websites, Maeve develops plugins, speaks at WordPress events, and co-organizes the Perth WordPress Meetup group. She’s also an intrepid rock climber and demon trumpet player!

One Response to “What is a CMS?”

  1. […] is easy-to-use and allows you to instantly make changes to your website using a CMS (Content Management System). Small businesses change with the direction of the market — meaning you don’t want your […]

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