Content Management System

A content management system (CMS for short) is software that is used to create and manage content – in text, image, video or other form. CMS are mainly used for operating websites, but also for “offline platforms” (in intranet networks). Open source systems are particularly widespread, and are used by both professional and private users.

To simplify the administration of content, users often resort to content management systems. Publishers or editorial offices occasionally use systems that are not provided via the Internet but are operated via their own internal network. In most cases, however, the term CMS refers to Internet-based software with a database connection for operating a website. The systems enable the creation, editing and publishing of content such as text, images, videos, forms and even entire web pages.

Advantages of a CMS:

Especially operators of smaller websites with less content should think twice about the effort of a content management system. For websites that offer a lot of content, however, the introduction of a CMS can be worthwhile. Some of the most important systems are open source and therefore free. They can increase a company’s productivity because content can be managed quickly and flexibly. Users need little or no programming knowledge and do not have to intervene in a website’s code. Instead, they can often draw on the experience of a large community when needed. In particular, many developer communities reliably provide (security) updates, thus saving users some of the development work. In addition, the largest CMSs can be expanded almost at will with (sometimes paid) modules or components, so that the range of functions can be expanded quickly and easily.

Although they offer many advantages, content management systems also come with some disadvantages. Even though it can be costly to create and operate a website yourself without a CMS, the introduction of a content management system in particular means a greatly increased effort for a company: Many processes of a company and its departments have to be changed over, the software has to be installed, set up and maintained correctly. Employees also need training on how to use the software. In addition, CMS can be far more complex and therefore more prone to errors. Software maintenance, employee training and paid plug-ins can thus result in high follow-up costs even for a system that is actually free of charge.

How content management systems work:

Content management systems can either be installed locally on a company’s own server (within the company) or run on a provider’s server to which the user is given access, such as the online version of WordPress. The most popular CMS are programmed in PHP, Perl or Python and support the widely used MySQL database system.

Many systems are similar in structure and differ in details: For example, individual content modules (texts, images, etc.) can usually be defined, edited and flexibly arranged against a selected background. Often, these modules can be changed via HTML or WYSIWYG editor and thus websites can be designed as desired. Almost always, the user can define various access and user rights through the software, regulating access to options and areas. For example, “administrators” are granted full access and editing rights to all content and areas of the system, while guests are only allowed to view the content. In addition, many CMSs are extensible through modules, add-ons and components.

An overview of the most important CMSs:

Over time, a wide range of content management systems has evolved, many of them open source-based. The most important and widely used CMSs include the following:
WordPress:

Year of release: 2003
Market share in Germany: approx. 29%*
Cost: Open Source
Website: https://de.wordpress.org/
Blog platform: de.wordpress.com/
Technology (language and database): PHP, MySQL

Joomla:

Year of publication: 2005 (previously Mambo)
Market share in Germany: approx. 17%*
Costs: Open Source
Website: www.joomla.de
Technology (language and database): PHP, MySQL

Drupal:

Year of publication: 2001
Market share in Germany: approx. 4%*
Costs: Open Source
Website: www.drupal.de/
Technology (language and database): PHP, MySQL/MariaDB/PostgreSQL/SQLite/Oracle/MSSQL

TYPO3:

Year of publication: 1998
Market share in Germany: ca. 15%*
Costs: Open Source
Website: typo3.org/
Technology (language and database): PHP, MySQL/MariaDB/PostgreSQL/Oracle

Contao:

Year of release: 2006 (as TYPOlight)
Market share in Germany: ca. 3%
Costs: Open Source
Website: contao.org/en/
Technology (language and database): PHP, MySQL

Module development:

Countless extensions exist for the largest and most common content management systems. The range of functions increases considerably through these plug-ins, add-ons and components, so that from quiz module to Google Analytics connection, a module is available for almost every task. Often developers create their own plug-ins for various systems free of charge and voluntarily, in the spirit of the open source idea. However, companies can also program and publish extensions to improve the connection to their products. For example, Textbroker has a plug-in for WordPress and a component for Joomla, with which texts can be ordered directly from the respective CMS.
Conclusion:

Content management systems can contribute to a more flexible and simpler administration of online and offline platforms such as websites or editorial systems. Users use the software to edit and publish content such as texts, images or videos. Many systems are not only open source and simplify content publishing, they are also often accompanied by a large and helpful community. Nevertheless, the programs also bring challenges, mainly due to their complexity. Most CMSs are similar in terms of handling: they are modular in design, come with a WYSIWYG editor and offer sophisticated rights and role management. The most important CMS include WordPress, Joomla, TYPO3, Drupal and Contao.

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