How To
17 min read

How to Choose the Right Content Management System for Your Business

Soniya Jain

June 28, 2022

If you have a website, you know that it requires constant upkeep. The time and effort this requires takes time away from what is really important: generating leads and website traffic for your business.

A CMS can help remedy this by keeping the content fresh on your site. This way, your potential customers don't need to search for it. 

In other words, all you need to do is write new content.

In this guide, you’ll learn what a CMS is, how it can benefit you, and some of the best options available.

What is a content management system (CMS)? 

A content management system (CMS) is the backbone of any digital platform. 

It’s responsible for managing all the content on your site, including: 

  • Blog posts
  • Images
  • Videos

 This makes it easy to update and publish new content.

You can think of a content management system as your website's brain. It controls everything from how the site looks and feels to what information is displayed. 

A CMS allows you to update your site without relying on a web developer. It lets you make changes quickly and easily. This is essential for keeping up with trends and staying relevant.

How does a content management system work?

A content management system is made up of two core parts: a content management application (CMA) and a content delivery application (CDA).

The CMA allows you to add, edit and delete pages on your site. It's where you can see the content on your site in an organized way so that updating it is easy. 

The CDA takes that content from the CMA platform and delivers it to visitors.

Together, these two systems make it easy for anyone to maintain their website!

Types of content management systems

There are many different types of CMS, each with distinct features and capabilities. 

The following are some of the most common types.

1. Document Management System

A document management system helps an organization manage its paper and digital documents. This includes capturing, organizing, and retrieving information. 

It also facilitates collaboration and version control.

Benefits of a document management system include:

  • It helps you save time by storing documents in one place. You can easily access them from anywhere with an internet connection
  • It makes it easy for multiple people to collaborate on projects without having to email files back and forth all the time. This means there is less chance of sending a file with the wrong version or accidentally deleting something important!

Examples of document management systems include: 

  • Clickup
  • Hubspot
  • Google Workspace

2. Enterprise Content Management System

Enterprise Management Systems allow you to manage all aspects of your company's data in one place. 

This can help you store and organize data, as well as streamline your workflows and improve efficiency.

They are typically used by large organizations that need to manage multiple websites, social media accounts, and their overall digital presence. Enterprise management systems can include:

  • User profiles
  • Password changes
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) tools.

Enterprise management systems are ideal for organizations that need to maintain high levels of security and privacy while providing a solid experience for end-users. 

Companies with multiple employees, especially those that work remotely, may want to use an enterprise-grade CMS.

Benefits of an enterprise content management system include:

  • Easier access to relevant information at all times
  • Better tracking of performance metrics throughout the year
  • Improved collaboration between departments due to centralized data storage

Examples of enterprise content management systems include: 

  • Confluence
  • Zoho Docs
  • Shopify Plus

3. Web Content Management System

A web content management system (WCMS) is a software application enabling organizations to manage digital information on their websites. 

They provide the ability to: 

  • Control and create content
  • Track revisions
  • Approve or reject changes
  • Publish updates

A WCMS typically provides an interface for non-technical users to make these changes without any knowledge of HTML or any other coding language.

Benefits of a web content management system include:

  • Easy to maintain and update websites. You don’t need any technical knowledge or experience to update your website
  • Flexible design. A web content management system lets you choose from various templates that can be customized according to your needs. You can add new pages with ease and change their look and feel by adding colors, fonts, images, etc.

Examples of web content management systems include: 

  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Wix

4. Digital Asset Management System

A digital asset management system (DAMS) helps organizations manage their digital assets. 

This can include:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Documents
  • Other files

A DAMS helps ensure that these assets are properly organized, stored securely, and accessible to authorized users. It can also provide features for team members to easily share and collaborate on assets.

Benefits of a digital asset management system include:

  • Manage your entire library of digital assets from one central location
  • Organize your assets by category or tag so you can search for them quickly and easily
  • Track changes made by different users or teams, so everyone knows what's happening with each asset at any given time
  • Automate processes like publishing content or updating an asset's metadata

Examples of digital asset management systems include: 

  • Cloudinary
  • Bynder

5. Component Content Management System

By using a component-based Content Management System, you can build and use custom components on your website. 

These components can be anything from a simple image gallery to an entire blog system. 

It also allows you to create templates for each component. This lets you easily reuse it across multiple sites without having to recreate it from scratch each time. 

It's a great way to streamline your development workflow and save time!

Benefits of a component content management system include:

  • You can reuse existing components instead of building everything from scratch every time.
  • It's easier to make updates and changes across multiple sites because they're all based on the same code base.  This means less time is spent fixing bugs or troubleshooting problems on multiple sites!
  • You can maintain a consistent look and feel across all your sites, which is necessary for branding purposes. It's generally just a more efficient way to manage website development since you're not starting from scratch every time.

Examples of component content management systems include: 

  • Vasont
  • XDocs
  • SDL Live Content

Types of CMS Architecture

A content management system can be set up in a variety of ways depending on the needs of your business and customers.

The architecture you choose will impact both the frontend and backend processes your system carries out.

Read on to explore the three types of CMS architecture.

What is a traditional content management system?

Traditional content management systems are the most common type of CMS. They let you build a website by dragging and dropping blocks into a live website. 

When you use a traditional CMS, you can control every aspect of your website with ease. You can add new pages, posts, or products and edit existing content. 

You can also change the look and feel of your site by choosing from an assortment of templates or working with a designer to create something unique just for you. 

If you have any questions about how it works, there's usually an online community where people answer questions about using the software. This makes it easy for anyone to learn!

What is a headless CMS?

The term headless CMS refers to a content management system without a front-end user interface. 

The frontend user interface is hidden from users and is typically used by developers to manage content. A headless CMS is  often used for websites that don't require a full-blown CMS but still need basic functionality like:

  • Blog posts
  • Events
  • Product listings

If you're a developer who wants to build their own website and tweak it as they see fit, a headless CMS is a great choice. 

They provide all the functionality needed to manage your site's content without requiring you to use someone else's interface or style choices. 

This allows you to create sites with unique looks and functionality without worrying whether or not future versions of the software will support these features.

Examples of a headless CMS include: 

  • Contentful
  • Magnolia
  • Bloomreach

Headless CMS vs traditional CMS

The headless CMS has many benefits compared to the traditional CMS. Some of them include: 

  1. A headless CMS is faster than a traditional CMS because they don't need to load extra pages when displaying different types of content (e.g., blog posts vs. product pages).
  2. They're more secure because they don't store any sensitive data on the server where it can be exposed if someone hacks into it (e.g., username/password).
  3. They use less memory when loading pages because they're not loading additional pages for each type of content. This means less RAM usage and decreased load times for all pages on your site!

What is a decoupled CMS?

A decoupled CMS is a new way of thinking about content management systems. It's not a specific technology but a general concept. 

“Decoupled” means that the CMS isn't tied to a particular application. It can be used with any of them. As a result, developers can create sites and applications without worrying about modifying the CMS code to work with their products. 

This makes it easier for companies to use their own products in conjunction with other applications and services from third-party developers, increasing flexibility and reducing costs.

Decoupled CMS offers many benefits for users, including:

  • You can use multiple technologies for your website, allowing you to choose between different approaches to building websites. You don't have to stick with one technology. Instead, use whatever works best for your project
  • Your site is easier to maintain because you can make updates separately from the front end. This means that when bugs are found and fixed in one area, they won't affect another part of the website or cause unexpected problems later down the road (so long as everything is coded correctly!)

Examples of decoupled CMS include: 

  • Coredna
  • Crownpeak

What are the key benefits of a content management system?

The benefits of a content management system are numerous. 

Read on to learn what they are.

1. Intuitive indexing, search, and retrieval of content

A CMS provides an intuitive way to index, search, and retrieve content. 

This makes it easy for users to find the information they need quickly and efficiently.

Additionally, a CMS can help you keep your site organized and streamlined, making it simpler to update and manage your website over time.

2. User management

A CMS gives you the ability to control who has access to what parts of your website. 

This can be especially useful if you have multiple authors or editors working together on one project. 

You can also use this feature to limit access based on specific privileges, such as publishing articles or creating polls.

3. Plugins and extensions

A CMS allows you to add features and functionality to your website through plugins and extensions. 

You can add various features based on your audience’s needs, such as:

  • Photo galleries
  • Forums
  • Social media feeds

This allows you to tailor your website to meet the needs of your visitors perfectly.

4. Content editor

A key advantage of using a CMS is that it comes with its own content editor. This makes it much easier to create and edit your website's content. 

The editor is usually user-friendly, so you don't need any technical skills to use it. 

If you are familiar with a word processor, like Microsoft Word, you can most likely figure out how to use the content editor.

5. Website dashboard

The website dashboard is a great way to keep track of your content and ensure it's all in tip-top shape. 

You can see:

  • When new content has been added
  • What type of content it is
  • Who added it (and when)
  • How many times each piece of content has been viewed

The dashboard also lets you edit your site's metadata. This helps search engines find your site and categorize it properly.

6. E-commerce capabilities

With most content management systems, you'll have the option to add eCommerce capabilities to your site so that visitors can make purchases directly through your page. 

This means that customers can purchase items without ever having to leave the site or click away from it. Instead, they can simply add the thing they want and check out right away! 

Also, you don't need separate software for managing orders or inventory tracking. Everything is centralized in one place,  saving time, money, and stress!

7. Revision features

The vast majority of content management systems have built-in revision features. This means you can make changes to your site without worrying about losing the original content. 

Additionally, most systems also save "drafts" of your work. That means if you lose power or internet connectivity while working on a page, the information you've added will still be there when you start again. 

This is a lifesaver for anyone who's ever lost an entire day's worth of writing because they forgot to hit "save"!

8. Multi-language support

If you want to reach a global audience, you'll need to be able to offer your content in multiple languages. 

Luckily, many popular content management systems have built-in translation features that make expanding your reach easy (and cost-effective). 

Additionally, some platforms have specific versions designed for multilingual sites. This means less work for you and a better experience for your users!

9. Digital asset management

A CMS allows businesses to manage the digital files they use across all aspects of their business. This can include anything from marketing materials and advertisements to brochures and flyers. 

It makes it easy for employees to access these files whenever they need them. It also ensures they are always available when required by customers or partners.

10. Multi-channel publishing

A CMS can help businesses publish their content to multiple channels, including:

  • Websites
  • Mobile apps
  • Social media platforms 

This allows companies to reach a wider audience with their message and helps them better engage with customers and prospects.

11. Content scheduling and automation 

A CMS can help businesses automate the process of publishing content by allowing them to schedule when and where their content will be published. 

This can save a lot of time and effort and ensure that content is always fresh and up-to-date.

12. No coding knowledge is required

Most CMS platforms do not require any coding knowledge, making them ideal for businesses that don't have the resources to hire a web developer or designer. 

This can help companies save money and get their content published faster.

13. Affordable and easy collaboration

With most content management systems, you can share your site with other users to make edits on your behalf.  This saves time because you don't have to do everything yourself! 

You can also set up different permissions for different users so that only some people can edit certain aspects of your site. 

In contrast, others are limited to only viewing or reading what has been published without the ability to make any changes. This ensures everyone follows the same rules when it comes to posting content. 

14. Predesigned templates

There are many different types of templates available to choose from so you can pick one that best suits your needs. 

There are also many themes (versions) of each template to get exactly what you're looking for when designing your site's appearance.

15. Instant content updates

Most content management systems allow users to update content directly from their website dashboard. This means you can make changes whenever necessary without waiting for an IT team member or developer. 

This is especially useful when something happens that needs immediate attention (like an emergency update) and has long-term benefits. 

For example, it could be beneficial for keeping content up-to-date with current trends in your industry.

16. SEO-friendly features

Many content management systems come with features that help your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), such as:

  • Built-in RSS feeds
  • Dynamic sitemaps
  • Customizable titles and URLs

How to choose the best CMS for your website?

There are many different content management systems out there, and not all of them fit your needs.

Consider the following factors when deciding which CMS works best for you.

Developer community support

The best content management systems are those that have been around for a while. They should have a large community of developers who constantly:

  • Add new features
  • Fix bugs
  • Help each other out

You want to find one that has a lot of support behind it. This way, you won't have any trouble with updates or fixes down the line.

SEO-friendly capabilities

A good CMS will have SEO in mind from the start. 

It should be easy to use and understand, and it should make sure that your content is optimized for search engines. 

With a good CMS, you don't have to worry about things like duplicate content or broken links. Those things are taken care of for you automatically.

Key metrics to define the site's success

You'll want to figure out what metrics matter most for your business. 

For example, if your goal is to grow your email list, then the number of people who sign up may not matter as much as how many people open emails your company sends. 

On the other hand, if your objective is to increase sales, you'll want a tool that helps you track data such as average spend per customer or how often they return after visiting before.

Size and scale of your website

If you have a large site with lots of users and content, you'll want a powerful CMS that can handle all of those users and pages. 

If you have a smaller website, you might not need as much power and can save money by choosing a less feature-rich platform.

Your platform's users

Content management systems typically come with various user roles and permissions that can be customized for multiple access levels. 

If you have multiple teams working on your website, it's important to select a CMS that allows groups to have different levels of access to content.

3rd-party integrations

You'll want a CMS that integrates with other technologies important to your website's success, including 

  • Social media platforms
  • Payment gateways
  • Analytics platforms
  • Email marketing software. 

Make sure any CMS you're considering meets those needs.

Affordability

Many content management systems are free, but they may come with limitations on what they can do. 

Others may require a monthly subscription fee, which can add up quickly if your site grows beyond its initial design phase. 

If you're unsure whether or not a particular CMS will work within your budget constraints, reach out to their customer service team before making any decisions. 

You don't want to waste time trying out something only to find out later that it won't work for your business model!

Flexibility

Finally, be sure that the CMS you choose is flexible with your design preferences. 

There are many different types available today: some are designed specifically for eCommerce websites (like Shopify), while others are designed more generically. 

No matter what kind of site you're creating or what features you need it to have, they should all be compatible with whatever design style you choose.

Popular content management system (CMS) examples

The next step is to determine which content management system is right for your business. 

There are many different CMS options available, so it's crucial to do some research and compare the features of each one before making a decision.

1. WordPress

WordPress Dashboard

A key reason to use WordPress is that it is both famous and powerful. There are more bloggers, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies using WordPress than all other options combined.

WordPress is the most popular content management system globally. In fact, 43% of all websites use it as their platform. 

The CMS has been around since 2003 and has a wide variety of themes and plugins to choose from. Over 50k plugins are available for any customization that you can think about.

You can start your site for free and upgrade at any time to get advanced customization tools and security features. These will give you peace of mind when it comes to protecting your site from hackers and spammers.

If you need help getting started building your site, there are hundreds of customizable themes available, so you'll be able to find one that perfectly fits your brand identity!

2. HubSpot

HubSpot Dashboard - CMS Hub

HubSpot CMS, aka CMS Hub, is the only CMS that provides website creation and CRM functionality in one solution. 

It's perfect for marketers and salespeople who want to:

  • Customize their customers' buying journey
  • Align marketing and sales
  • Get comprehensive reporting across all segments of their customers

This CMS has many great features, and” smart content” is one of them. You can tailor the content CTAs on your site depending on the persona of your target customers, their behavior, and more.

HubSpot CMS also offers three different packages starting at $23/month (Starter) and going up to $1,200/month (Enterprise).

It’s a popular CMS because it offers an integrated suite of tools to manage your website, social media, and email marketing. This all-in-one approach makes it easy to get started and scale as your needs grow.

3. Wix

Wix Dashboard

Wix is a free, user-friendly website builder that lets you make a site in just a few simple steps.

Using Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence), you can take the easy route and have your site designed for you. 

Simply answer a few questions about your business and style preferences, then sit back as a fully-built website appears with custom content and images tailored to what users typically see on sites like yours.

Wix has a free version that you can use for as long as it meets your needs. You'll find many website templates designed to cover a wide range of topics and industries, from online stores to consultant agencies and personal blogs.

4. Joomla

Joomla Dashboard
Helpie WP

The Joomla content management system is a free, open-source system often used to build websites. It has been around since 2005 and is supported by an enormous community.

Joomla powers nearly 2 million active websites, and at least 1 in 10 business websites. It's used worldwide by:

  • Individuals
  • Small businesses
  • Large organizations
  • Governments

Joomla is user-friendly and offers a ton of features right out of the box.  You can also choose from over 6000 extensions to add more functionality. 

There are even some frameworks built on top of Joomla that allow you to create powerful online applications without knowing any code at all!

The platform is built on a model–view–controller web application framework, which allows you to create powerful online applications independently of the CMS.

5. Drupal

Drupal Dashboard

Drupal is open-source and has over 1 million users worldwide.

The platform features:

  • A robust CMS
  • Sophisticated APIs for multichannel publishing
  • A track record of continuous innovation

Drupal is an end-to-end solution that gives you total control over your digital experience without sacrificing performance or security. This is true whether you're building a site from scratch or upgrading an existing one.

It integrates with popular marketing tools like MailChimp and Salesforce so you can keep your data in one place and use it as effectively as possible. 

The platform also allows you to quickly scale up when you need more power out of your website. This means you don't have to worry about losing functionality or having performance dips because of increased traffic.

6. Magento, aka Adobe Commerce

Adobe Commerce Dashboard

Adobe Commerce is a powerful, easy-to-use tool that lets you create and manage your own shopping experiences without the need for developer support. 

The platform is designed to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes. It allows hosting multiple sites on one platform and cloud deployment.

Additionally, you can maximize personalization by integrating  with Adobe apps like: 

  • Analytics
  • Experience Manager
  • Creative Cloud

Pricing options begin at $22,000/year.

7. Ghost

Ghost Dashboard

Ghost is a powerful CMS blogging software with self-hosted and hosted versions. It has over one million users and is used by big names like NASA, Apple, and Mozilla.

Ghost is aimed at new media creators who want to build a business around their content. It offers a variety of tools for:

  • Building a website
  • Publishing content
  • Sending newsletters
  • Offering paid subscriptions to members

The free plan works well for advanced developers, but you'll need to pay for some help with your site if you're a beginner.

8. Webflow

Webflow Dashboard

Webflow is an online tool that enables more than 3,500,000 designers and teams to design, collaborate on, and build beautiful websites without knowing any coding.

With Webflow Designer, you can build any website imaginable by combining HTML, CSS, and Javascript. You can use pre-built components or start from scratch with an empty canvas.

With Webflow CMS, you have complete control over your content structure and its design throughout your project.

You can use the Starter Workspace for free and upgrade if you need more sites or are ready to add collaborators.

9. Squarespace

Squarespace Dashboard

You can build and manage websites through a web browser with Squarespace. There are a host of features making it easy to create, edit and update your website.

With Squarespace, you get a content management system (CMS) accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. 

There's no need to download or install any software and no need to buy separate web hosting. You simply pay a subscription fee to Squarespace, which includes access to their content management system.

Squarespace has 3.79 million subscribers currently using their services, so it's safe to say they know what they're doing! The pricing starts from a $14/month personal plan and goes up to $49/month for advanced plans.

How do you start using your content management system?

You'll need to do a few things to get started with your chosen content management system.

First, purchase web hosting. This is the space on the internet where your website lives and can be viewed. You can buy web hosting here.

Once you've purchased web hosting, you can install the CMS software on it. 

When the CMS is set up, you can configure settings such as:

  • Layout
  • Style
  • Functionality

Then you’ll be ready to start posting!

Frequently asked questions about CMS

What is the best CMS platform for eCommerce?

There is no "best" CMS platform for eCommerce, as it depends on the specific needs of each business. 

However, some popular choices for eCommerce platforms include:

  • WooCommerce
  • Shopify
  • Magento

What's the best content management system to build a small business website?

WordPress is a popular choice for small business websites because it’s easy to use and has a wide variety of plugins and themes available. 

Other good options for small business websites include Joomla and Drupal.

Can I use a CMS platform without having my own domain name or hosting?

Yes. Some CMS platforms allow users to set up websites without a domain name or hosting service. 

For example, WordPress offers a free subdomain and hosting through WordPress.com. Meanwhile, Drupal and Joomla are open-source software that can be installed on local servers.

Is a CMS required to start a blog?

No, you do not need a CMS to start a blog. You can use blogging software like Blogger or Tumblr, which are easy to use and don't require hosting. 

Even if you want your own domain name and hosting service for your blog, you can set this up without using a CMS. 

Closing Notes

A robust content management system helps you build your website and grow your business over time. 

With a CMS, you can store all of your website content in one place. This means it's easy to collaborate across teams and make quick updates when needed. 

It also allows for templates and extensions to customize your site as needed.

If you're looking to build a website for your business, there's no better time than now!

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