Tech Talk Thursday (10/05/18)

CMS - What is it, and do I really need one?

Again with the acronyms!!! CMS stands for a "Content Management System" and although a lot of people may not know what a CMS is, they have definitely interacted with many of them!

What is a CMS?

A Content Management System allows people with non-technical web skills (i.e. not developers but Editors, Moderators, Marketers etc) to interact with a website in a understandable and easy manner.

Like the apps on your phone, like the programs you use on your computer, behind a webpage is many pages of code.If you don't believe me, right click on choose "View Source" if you are on a PC/Mac. This code tells the web browsers how to display a website. From images, to text to layout its all there in the code. The images, text, colours etc that you see on a website are a very small portion of the code and if you wanted to add/remove or edit a page, you would have to trawl through a lot of code to do so. Not appealing for most people!

CMS Logos

Lets try break it down further using this blog as an example:

For a website viewer: The CMS used on this website finds and grabs all of the content of type "Blog" in a database where the title matches the title above. Then it generates a webpage based on the theme of the website (the header, the navigation, the footer etc) and it places the "Blog" information into a certain part of the page. Voila, a blog post is shown.

For a website administrator or editor: When you view a webpage, the same happens as above but this time some additional sections are generated. This time perhaps an additional toolbar is shown at the top of the page. This toolbar would allow the person to edit what is on the page without having to delve into the code.

Do I need a CMS?

To be very honest, if you are managing a website, yes, you need a CMS. The web developer will put in a lot of work to ensure that the styling and functionality of the website is as requested. If you wanted to edit, add or remove a page on the website without a CMS, you would need a developer, otherwise you could irreparably damage your site making it impossible to navigate or in a worst case scenario your website might not display. Getting a developer to change say the word "and" to "&" is illogical and inefficient for all involved. 

So what is comes down to, is would you rather edit the text on the left or the right of the image below?


TL;DR: CMS allows non web developers manage a site, and you really need your site built using one!