What is a Content Management System & when should you use one?

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Have you ever had to build a website before? Maybe for your business or a personal website?

At some point during your project, you were probably speaking with a developer, or if you’re like me and you’re kind of a jack of all trades, you did it yourself.

In almost every case, the question you’re asked is if you want to use a Content Management System (or CMS). Some of you were never asked, a CMS was used for you irrespective.

In some cases, people feel cheated when this happens, your friends tell you that you’ve been ripped off. You read a ton of stuff online about the CMS you’ve just been given. You see some good stuff, and you see some bad.

I’m here to help provide some clarity and also help you make a choice (if you have one) on which to use.

What is a CMS

Abbreviated as CMS, a content management system, also called aWeb management system is software or a group or suite of applications and tools that enable an organization to seamlessly create, edit, review and publish electronic text.


Simply put, a CMS is a platform that helps make complex tasks a bit easier. This task could be selling a product online, publishing content (blogging) or more complex functions.

The most popular example of a CMS is WordPress. WordPress runs about 4.5% of all websites around the world. This comes to over 15 million websites. So I’m guessing you’ve heard about it somehow in the past.

What a CMS does for you as a business or brand is to provide a framework for common web based platforms. As such in some cases it is not needed. Lets take a look at how you can decide on whether or not a CMS is good for you.

Do you have programming expertise?

If you have some knowledge of programming, its obvious that you have some more options available to you. Building a website from scratch could be a possibility for you.

However, if you are like most people, you don’t know jack shit about programming. You nearly got an F in the course that involved code in college. And now you just get a little sick when you see all those random letters flying around on a programmers screen.

If you fall into the second category of people and you do not have the budget to get a developer, you’re better off with a CMS.

What sort of website are you making?

This is the second most important thing to check off your list if you’re looking to use a CMS. Content Management Systems are designed to serve pretty straightforward purposes. So if you’d like to build a complex ride sharing application for example, ditch the CMS idea.

The more complex your website needs to be, the less you need a CMS. However, if you need to do any of the following, you’re in the clear with getting a basic CMS to work with:

  • Ecommerce website
  • Company website
  • Personal blog
  • Business blog for monetization
  • Event website
  • Community forum

And much more!

Notice a pattern here? All these websites have very simple functions that a lot of other websites around the world already use. So as against reinventing the wheel every single time a new one has to be setup, a framework (or CMS) is built.

What is your budget like?

Building a website from scratch usually costs a lot more than using a CMS platform. If your project needs more than one developer to work on it, even more so.

Working with a CMS platform on the other hand reduces development costs. So if you’re a small business looking to setup a simple website so customers can see  your contact information, you have no need to build from scratch.

Think about these points next time you need to build a website, it’ll help you decide which to go with.

Do you already have a website? Did you use a CMS platform or you built from scratch? Let us know in the comment box below, and also tell us which CMS platform you currently use.