Back in the old days of the internet – I’m talking about 1995 – [because the web and the technologies associated with it change at lightening speed, I like to think of web years as dog years – one year equals seven. That means that 1995 was really 112 years ago ] building a website was a difficult process reserved for technical types who were schooled in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), the programming language used to build web pages. This meant that whenever changes had to be made to a company’s website, whether the addition of images or the editing of text, the technical staff had to get involved. This was time consuming and costly. The internet became flooded with static web pages that almost never changed. Publish it and forget it was the rule.

Fast Forward

As the internet evolved and businesses began to see its enormous potential, products were developed to give non-technical people the ability to build and maintain websites without knowing HTML and without involving the technical staff. Some of the early tools, Microsofts’s Front Page1 and Macromedia’s Dreamweaver2 to name two, broke new ground but were clumsy and often plagued by bugs and inconsistent results. As the web began adopting uniform standards, web building and management tools continued to evolve. At the same time, the proliferation of websites demanded that non-technical staff be able to manage their web properties while leaving the IT staff to manage higher level priorities. The content management system was born.

So What Exactly is a Content Management System?, a European internet consulting firm specializing in helping companies choose the best content management system for their needs offers a simple, concise working definition:

Web Content Management systems were developed to resolve the issue of having highly experienced technical staff adding low level content to a website. In essence, a CMS exists to allow non technical staff to create or amend web pages without the need to involve the technical staff.

It’s worth repeating. A CMS provides the opportunity to create, edit and control content by presenting the non technical user with an interface that requires no knowledge of programming languages or markup to create and manage content.

How Many Content Management Systems Are There and How Do I Pick One

The good news is that you don’t have to pick one. Not all content management systems are the same. It’s the job of your web design company to assess your needs and choose the system that best matches those needs. Builtwith Technology, a web based provider of usage statistics offers this list of the top ten most popular content management systems:

  • WordPress – with 4,064,217 websites
  • Joomla – with 1,408,972 websites
  • Website Tonight – with 452,259 websites
  • Blogger – with 398,653 websites
  • Homestead – with 305,454 websites
  • Drupal – with 281,231 websites
  • Microsoft Office Live Small Business – with 161,104 websites
  • Google Sites – with 153,576 websites
  • TYPO Open Source CMS – with 152,225 websites
  • NetObjects Fusion – with 140,792 websites

In the final analysis, the only questions that really matter when choosing a content management system are:

  • does it address all my business needs
  • is it easy to use

I’d like to know what you think. Why not post a comment?

1. Microsoft no longer manufactures Front Page and no longer supports existing versions
2. Dreamweaver is now produced by Adobe and modern versions are dramatically improved and quite useful
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