What is a Content Management System?

28 November 2017 |

More often than not, when we think of Developers, what comes to mind is something straight out of Mr. Robot. Or, we think about the incredibly quiet people who sit in the back of the office, hardly saying a word as they clack out code like their lives depend on it.

So, naturally, we have a lot of questions for these quiet, (usually) docile creatures and their natural habitats of CMSs and website back ends. Recently, we got to ask some of our (and our client’s) most pressing questions regarding CMSs, and our Head of Development, Nico, came out of his Dev Cave to answer them.

1.What does CMS stand for?

Content Management System.

2. How is a CMS chosen for a specific site build?

This would depend heavily on the client and/or their customer requirements. Selection of a CMS is made based on client and their customers. The requirements could range from being able to manage a simple blog, to a more advanced system that has ecommerce enabled, or that integrates with 3rd party software and services in order to provide a 360 solution. The solutions are usually also driven by seamless user experience for both client and customer.

3. Which CMS is best suited to accommodate an eCommerce site?

WordPress with WooCommerce gives the most flexibility in terms of customisation and checkout features.

4. How do you choose Plugins for a specific CMS?

Firstly, we try to avoid re-inventing the wheel. Then, Plugins are assessed based on the website’s functionality, usability, and value add requirements. Plugins offer a simple way to extend on the basic functionality of a CMS. Selection of Plugins is usually determined from a variety of functions the CMS is to perform, and could include anything from keeping the website secure to sending out emailers or managing orders. Plugins can be purchased in many marketplaces or custom developed, and should also follow a list of criteria in order to avoid conflicts with other plugins and keep them maintainable.

5. What are some things to look out for when choosing a CMS?

Specifically for websites, there is a wide range of criteria that includes some of the following:

  • Administration System Capabilities
  • Associated Development Risks
  • Community Support
  • Consistency
  • Infrastructure Requirements
  • Long Term Requirements
  • Media Management
  • OpenSource / Proprietary
  • Platform
  • Reference
  • Scalability
  • SEO Considerations
  • Support for 3rd Party Integration
  • System Support & Maintenance Requirements
  • Themes/Templating Management
  • User Interface
  • Workflow Management

6. What types of CMS software are there?

  • Proprietary such as Adobe Experience Manager, IBM Websphere, Microsoft Dynamics.
  • OpenSource such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Umbraco.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) such as Wix, Shopify.
  • Decoupled such as dotCMS, ContentFul, Built, Sitefintiy.

7. What’s the difference?

Proprietary is software that requires a license to operate. It also requires very specific skillsets in order to add or extend functionality if at all possible. It’s very reliant on the original software developer, which often runs a risk, depending on the developer’s long term business goals.

OpenSource allows developers to collaborate on building software with a common goal, and allows for easy adaptability. It is developer independent, which gives greater support if one ever wanted to change the supplier who maintains it. Although the software itself is free, it does require the right skillsets to set up, while providing a marketplace for components in order to extend functionality.

SaaS services give users without technical knowledge DIY capabilities for setting up web environments and other related services with simple drag and drop interfaces. Customisation of a specific setup is often limited. These services usually have monthly costs associated with them.

Decoupled CMSs allows for 3rd parties to consume your content or services via the use of API’s rather than having direct access to the CMS. This type of CMS is available under Proprietary, Opensource, and SaaS licenses.

8. What is your most recommended CMS, in terms of usability and functionality?

For small to medium business, our latest finding is OctoberCMS. Our enterprise solution offers web and mobile application integration with Microsoft Dynamics ERP.

9. What makes that your most recommended?

OctoberCMS meets most of the criteria from a developer, client, user, scalability, and infrastructure perspective. It’s also built on the latest PHP framework – Laravel – and provides great flexibility with the least amount of development work. Plugins are also uniform, which keeps the CMS tidy and provides consistent, distraction free admin user interfaces.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides a way for us to integrate our web and mobile marketing initiatives with client business tools such as Sales and CRM.

Give us a call if you’d like to connect with us for any Development projects or queries, and we’ll happily help you out.