In the early stages of the internet, the majority of websites were built using HTML. This was a tedious process, especially for complex websites, as each page contains its own set of code. To add or edit content, businesses required developers to change each code manually. As websites grew in sophistication, HTML-based websites created more risk for error. As a solution, content management systems were introduced to improve the efficiency and accuracy of website development. Currently, most websites are developed and maintained with a CMS.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
A CMS is a program that facilitates the creation, editing, organization, and publication of a website. CMSs automatically manage and store HTML content in a user-friendly format, reducing the need for complex coding. CMSs simplify the process of website development, allowing individuals of all abilities to create and maintain a website.
CMSs, such as WordPress, have evolved into highly customizable platforms that are used worldwide. There are almost 2 billion websites across the world, with WordPress powering 33.9% of them. In addition to WordPress, popular CMSs include:
- WordPress (Open source; commonly used for blogging)
- Joomla (Open source; used for publishing web content)
- Drupal: (Open source; used for publishing web content)
- Magento: (Open source; commonly used for e-Commerce)
- Squarespace: (Proprietary; used for website building and hosting)
- Wix: (Proprietary; used to design and manage websites)
Open Source vs. Proprietary CMS
When choosing a CMS for your website, there are two different options: open source and proprietary. In an open source CMS, the source code is public. This means it is maintained by many developers; anyone can modify the code and create their own features. WordPress, Magento, Drupal, and Joomla are examples of open source CMSs.
Alternatively, proprietary CMSs (i.e. Squarespace and Wix) are controlled by a private company. Owners of a proprietary CMS build and maintain the system themselves, without public input. There are benefits to both systems, but their suitability for your website depends on your business goals.
Open Source CMS Benefits:
- Multiple developers. Open source CMSs are constantly being updated by public developers, with new codes and modules added on a regular basis.
- Transferable website. If your business decides to change its CMS, there are several other open source systems that will take over your website without difficulty. For proprietary CMSs, your website would need to be rebuilt in the event of a system change.
- No ongoing costs. Unlike proprietary CMSs, companies do not need to pay ongoing licensing fees for an open source CMS.
- Ownership. If you’re using an open source CMS, you own the code to your website. Unlike proprietary CMSs, you will not encounter copyright issues if you decide to sell your website.
Proprietary CMS Benefits:
- Suitable for niche markets. Proprietary CMSs are often created with a specific industry in mind, enabling end-users with integrated features for their website. This saves you the trouble of developing specialized features from scratch.
- User-focused. Proprietary CMSs are created by a single company with the needs of the end-user in mind, whereas open source CMSs are open to all developers and tend to focus on back-end capabilities.
- Simplistic website development. This feature is both positive and negative. Proprietary CMSs are less customizable than their open source counterpart, allowing for a simpler development process. This is beneficial for companies who do not require complex website functionality, but still like to publish basic content on their website.
- Single owner. Proprietary CMSs are owned and developed by a single company, which means your business will know exactly who to contact with any questions or problems that arise with your website.
Why Use a CMS?
CMSs streamline the process of website development and facilitate content creation. Whether you’re an expert or a beginner at website development, there are many reasons why a CMS might be suitable for your business:
- User-friendly content management. CMSs provide quick and easy access to the back-end of a website, where users can directly edit web pages, create new content, and add media. The layout is easy to use, with clear and accessible upload tools and formatting options.
- Accessibility. As previously mentioned, CMSs minimize the need for HTML. This creates a more accessible platform for anyone interested in developing a website. Many CMSs offer WYSIWYG composition tools, which allow users to preview pages or edit pages in live view.
- Editing options. Unlike HTML, CMSs allow users to save drafts and preview pages before finalizing edits. This controls the creation of content and prevents accidental edits.
- Automation. CMSs can automate content delivery. This option allows users to schedule material for future dates, rather than relying on manual input every time your website publishes new content.
- Transferable skills. Knowledge of one CMS can be applied to another, making it easier to create and manage websites on different systems.
Creating a website can feel like an overwhelming task, especially with the wide range of CMSs on the market. When choosing a CMS, remember to consider the needs of your business and assess the goals of your website. Before undertaking this project, consult with a specialist in website design and development. Their industry knowledge and experience will help guide your website towards success. For more information, contact Worldsites Toronto today!