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What is a CMS (Content Management System)?

CMS is а term very often used in articles when it comes to building websites quickly and easily. And this is for a reason. If now you are planning to create your first website and you are still in the “I Want a Website. Where Should I Start From?” phase you most surely have already heard the term CMS. This notion, however, may have caused unnecessary confusion. So let us explain… What exactly is a CMS?

The very short answer of this question is that a CMS is one of the ways to create a website.

This is a software tool enabling you to create a website quickly and easily and then manage and support its contents.

The longer answer of the same question…

A CMS is literally a system for content management. The most famous representatives of such systems are the web-based ones - WCMS - Web Content Management Systems. They are subtype of CMS and are called WCMS. However, they are rarely represented with this long name as they are most often just called CMS or CMS platforms without specifying their web orientation.

The web-based CMS platform is a ready-made web application. Ready because it has gone through the stages of web design and software development. A CMS platform is a ready-made software product which is а set of different program components taking care of various system features for example the connection with the web server, the connection to the database, processing and managing content, template system for presentation management, user sessions, creating, rewriting and routing URLs, admin panels and many more. Those web platforms usually comprise of module construction of the program realization which allows natural adding and updating their features through extensions called among different platforms - plugins, modules, add-ons, components.

Web CMS platforms could be written in different programming or script languages and could work with different types of databases. The biggest number of CMS is open source, PHP-based and using MySQL databases. A more global overview of the popular CMS platforms and programming languages is available in the list of content management systems provided by Wikipedia.

All web CMS platforms are also web applications which can be installed on a server which is most often a hosting server.

A short history of web CMS platforms

It all started as the web service first appeared on the internet in 1990. At the very beginning of the virtual network content and web pages were static as they were just HTML files. They looked more like leaflets where a user would manually enter some text. In the following three years around 1993, the leaflet already could contain images. Until that moment the content and the way it was represented were one whole thing - HTML. In 1995 CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) appeared as they allowed describing formatting and styling of HTML elements. Meanwhile in 1995-1997 the CGI - Common Gateway Interface came to the stage as it allowed dynamic content generation in web pages through programming and script languages such as Perl, Python, PHP, ASP which worked on a server level.

In the years to come more web technologies showed up as they quickly changed static web environment into dynamic. One of them was the DOM (Document Object Model) developed in 1997-1998 through which the HTML document was placed in a tree logic structure of separate objects. These objects or parts of the content could be already changed through JavaScript (1995) and Ajax (1999) which enabled queries that did not require reloading the webpage.

Up to then the web technologies development had turned the static leaflet into an interactive web page. Contents and its visual representation were dynamically generated according to the users and their preferences or interaction with the webpage.

The websites’ interactivity nourished interaction with users. But besides great representation, websites already needed to present appropriate, qualified and useful contents. This evoked the need from creating and regularly updating such content. In the early years of the web this would be an impossible task for a single person who had to manually update the HTML code of tens of pages on the website every day. In the following years more and more people started taking part in content creation as they were responsible for the respective information - authors added posts and help articles, marketing specialists updated promotions, human resources added new job positions.

Then came the moment when a content management system became viral. A system which could provide means for the website's easy content management by multiple users. In 1995-1997 the first systems for content management appeared as they were custom developed for corporate and business customers and they were closed source systems.

Soon after this in 1997-1998 the software industry started to pay attention to open source systems and Netscape were the first to publish the source code of their Netscape Communicator software package. Then the Open Source Initiative was formed as its purpose was encouraging the development of open source software. Open source means that the copywrite owner of the source code provided the rights for education, modification and distribution of the software to the wide audience and for all purposes.

At the beginning of 2000 some of the first open source web content management systems (WCMS) started appearing. Examples of such systems are Drupal 2000, WordPress 2003, Joomla 2005. The most famous open source systems for e-commerce started appearing almost a decade later: Magento 2008, OpenCart 2010, WooCommerce 2011.

The most popular and widely used CMS platforms

From 10 million up and running websites today over 33% are using WordPress, 2.9% are using Joomla! and only 1.9% Drupal. Source: w3techs.org. (The statistics are for 10 million up and running websites ranked at Alexa https://w3techs.com/technologies).

Most of the popular and widely used web systems are open source and they can be used for free: WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal for building websites. The most common CMS platforms for building online stores are Magento, OpenCart and PrestaShop.

CMS platforms used for the creation of websites may be also used for online stores as the respective extensions are installed. Examples of such extensions are WooCommerce for WordPress, Virtuemart, HikaShop for Joomla and Drupal Commerce for Drupal.

How you can use those CMS platforms?
All popular CMS platforms can be installed and used at SuperHosting.BG. Installation of CMS platforms on the hosting account might be performed through cPanel and the Softaculous tool. CMS installation is automated and right after that the website is ready for customization. With our WordPress hosting service the CMS platform WordPress is automatically installed and the website is ready for customization and adding content.

Softaculous - a vast library of CMS platforms which can be installed on the hosting account for free.

View more information about the most common platforms WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Learn what are the similarities and differences between them and find out which is the most suitable for your website from our article "How to Create a Website - Three Recipes for Beginners".

Different web based CMS platforms have very similar features and main components such as:

  • admin panel;
  • users/groups interface;
  • SEO friendly URLs;
  • support for media, files, images, audio and video;
  • editor for creating, editing and publishing content;
  • databases where data is stored and retrieved from;
  • template system and option for customization, themes, templates;
  • option for installation of additional components - extensions, plugins, modules;
  • updates, bugfixes, enhancements of the source code and the security level;
  • help documentation, community of supporters, fans, forums.

WordPress

WordPress is a CMS that initially was developed as a blogging system which is nowadays the most popular ready-made system for building websites of all types. WordPress can be used for creating any websites - personal websites, blogs, corporate websites, online stores (WooCommerce) and others. The system has a huge support community, fans and volunteering developers. This contributes to the vast number of free and easily accessible plugins and themes for the system. There is detailed help documentation for the system available for users and developers.

WordPress has a brand new content editor which was recently officially released as it works with blocks of information and is getting closer to the process of content creation of the type “What you see is what you get".

WordPress is suitable for people without in-depth technical knowledge in the field of web development and support of web applications. Creating a website with WordPress may be performed with three easy steps. Read more in our article "Create Your First WordPress Website in Three Easy Steps”.

SuperFast WordPress hosting with overall security and easy management

Something special for WordPress by SuperHosting.BG

What is the exact meaning of WordPress hosting:

  • Easy management for your website. In our cPanel there is a tool custom-developed for managing WordPress websites - WordPress Manager by SuperHosting. It provides features and additional tools which enable you to easily manage the WordPress websites in your account. By using WPM by SuperHosting you can easily: recover a WordPress website from a backup, activate additional protection mechanisms for even higher security level, speed up your website through especially selected tools which are not offered in cPanel by default and many more.
  • Overall security for your website. Each website in the account is protected by the default SH protect system that encompasses overall protection from the infrastructure of the hosting service to the specific security mechanisms of individual WordPress websites such as protections of the admin panel, protection against password interception, protection from security breaches in the plugins or themes used and many more.
  • All other services and bonuses to our hosting service. Bonuses and extras offered upon the standard hosting service are also included in the WordPress hosting plan. You can benefit from mailboxes, mailing lists, SPAM filter, backups, SSL certificates, HTTPS, HTTP/2, SSH, ALL SSD, cPanel, subdomains, parked domains, access to FTP/SFTP/FTPS, etc.

Upon activation of the WordPress hosting service you get installed WordPress website with the basic settings as it is ready for customization and content generation.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a CMS

As a whole CMS platforms have common advantages and disadvantages when they are compared to the option of building a website and its components from scratch.

Advantages of Using a CMS:

  • Quick and easy way for building a website;
  • Suitable solution for your first website;
  • Easy way to manage web content;
  • Minimum expenses for building and configuration (you may need to purchase a plugin or a theme of your choice, though);
  • Some solutions already exist with the CMS so you will not need to choose a scripting language, business logics or databases;
  • CMS offers a ready basic template for web projects which can be additionally customized for almost all types of websites;
  • In the CMS development and source code web standards, good practices and security patterns have been applied;
  • A CMS is constantly updated and the main components and its source code get regular bugfixes;
  • Adding new features to the system core is possible through extensions and themes;
  • The big community and help documentation implies better cooperation for coping with common problems upon working with the system;
  • It is highly possible for a problem to be already solved from another user in the community.

Disadvantages of Using a CMS:

  • Need of additional developments when a specific feature which is not part of the CMS has to be added. Change of the ready layout or updating an existing feature which does not match the requirements and purposes of the web project.
  • The more complex the CMS is, the more difficult working with it gets and the more difficult and pretentious its support is.
  • Freedom to add new features through extensions may lead to a big number of installed plugins/modules. It is possible to slow down the CMS's performance when the enabled plugins are too many.

It gets difficult to support a website with CMS when a certain feature needs to be changed and there is no suitable plugin for this or when the ready layout of the theme needs to be redesigned. Not every user has the necessary knowledge in web programming (PHP) or design (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) to do this on his own. In such cases specialized help from developers in the field is required for web development, web design and support for websites.

Other types of platforms for building websites

Of course, there are other ways to create a website as they provide all types of features and advantages of CMS as they have additional improvements as well.

Examples of such platforms are SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms such as Site Builder for websites or Shopiko for online stores.

Besides standard components these platforms also provide an easy way for managing the content and layout simultaneously. Also hosting service is included in these platforms.

The hosting services are developed so that most of the disadvantages of CMS platforms get eliminated.

With Site Builder and Shopiko the platforms offer all levels of support which include:

  • Support of the website's features;
  • Support of the main and additional components.

Choose a CMS for creating your website.
The big number of content management systems for creating and supporting websites makes your choice more difficult.
CMS platforms offer ready construction of a web project that can be modified to a big extend so that it can meet the needs and requirements of almost any type of website. Web platforms such as Site Builder and Shopiko offer one more support level and easier management of its content and representation.

You need help?
There is abundant information concerning different platforms for website creation, their advantages and disadvantages, their features and components. Analyzing carefully, researching in details and comparing different platforms is a very important process when you have to make the right choice.
Depending on the requirements and purposes of your future web project one type of platform might be more suitable than the other. In case you are not sure which service would be more suitable for your future online project, we are always ready to help via chat, email or telephone.

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