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What is a CMS (Content Management System)? What Does It Do?

What is a CMS (Content Management System)? What Does It Do?

This blog post explains what content management systems (CMS) are, how they work, and provides examples of the most popular CMSs, helping you discover the advantages and disadvantages of using CMSs in the process of creating websites.
9 Minutes

Every day, millions of pieces of content are created on the internet. Content management systems (CMS) are used to create and manage the websites where this content is hosted. As of 2023, nearly 70% of all websites on the internet use a content management system. Would you like to learn more about CMSs? If so, let's explore together.

What is CMS?

CMS stands for content management system. It is a system that allows for the management of content on a website through a control interface. This content can include any text or image on the page, as well as various types of content such as blog posts and product descriptions. With the evolution of content management systems, they have become tools not only for managing content but also for creating websites.

What Does a CMS Do?

CMSs are software systems that facilitate the management of content on a website. Let’s explain what a content management system does with an example. Imagine you want to create and publish a website. The simplest way would be to create it using HTML and CSS. However, when it comes to a blog website, it would be impractical to manage it this way. You could use a CMS for this task. Assuming you choose one of the most popular CMSs, WordPress, its management panel would allow you to not only create your website but also write and publish your blog posts.

When is a CMS Used?

Content management systems can be used to create any type of website. This could range from a single-page website for a company to a news site or blog with multiple authors, or even an e-commerce site.

Of course, you can create a static webpage without a CMS. However, content management systems also help in designing the visual aspect of the site. You can choose and customize from pre-made themes that suit the management system you are using. You can add the necessary features through plugins.

Now, let’s move away from personal use a bit and discuss why content management systems are preferred in companies and media organizations. In an organization with multiple writers, editors, and software developers, using a CMS is inevitable. Writers can write their articles and send them to editors, who can then prepare the article for publication within the same system. Meanwhile, developers can ensure that all these processes run smoothly with a CMS.

When you want to set up an e-commerce site, you need to quickly publish your products on your website to focus on sales and marketing processes. In this case, specialized CMSs and CMS plugins for creating e-commerce sites can be used.

What are the Types of CMS?

A website fundamentally consists of two parts: the front end, which is the part that users interact with, and the back end. Content management systems are categorized based on the state of the front end and back end. CMSs can be classified in several ways:

  • Open-source CMSs are content management systems developed with support from developer communities, with source code available to everyone. Examples of this type of CMS include WordPress and Joomla.
  • Proprietary or closed-source CMSs are content management systems that have closed source code and are developed by a company. Examples of these systems include Adobe Experience Manager and Microsoft SharePoint.
  • SaaS CMS, or Software as a Service CMS, are content management systems that operate on a cloud-based service model. Examples of this type include Wix and Squarespace.

What are the Types of CMS According to Their Architecture?

  • Traditional (coupled) CMSs are content management systems where the front end and back end are integrated. The front end and back end are parts of the same software, also known as monolithic CMSs.
  • Non-traditional (decoupled) CMSs have the front end and back end separated. They communicate through an API. The content presentation part and the content management part function as two separate software entities. Updating one does not affect the other. The difference from headless CMSs is that they include a presentation layer for the front end.
  • Headless CMSs are content management systems that only include the back end for managing content. They do not have a built-in presentation layer. They provide an API for the creation of the front end or the content presentation part. The difference from decoupled CMSs is that they do not include the presentation layer.

What are the Types of CMS According to Their Hosting?

When choosing a CMS, one of the critical considerations is how the CMS will be hosted. There are two options in this regard.

  • Self-hosted CMS systems are those hosted by the user. You install and run the CMS on your own server or hosting service. This option provides the highest level of customization and can be easily scaled as needed. It requires more technical knowledge to use.
  • The other option is to use a hosted CMS. CMSs that provide customized services or SaaS CMSs fall into this category. This option allows you to quickly create your website and focus on content creation without the need for infrastructure or technical knowledge.

What Are the Features of a CMS (Content Management System)?

Content management systems come with a set of specific features. All-in-one CMS solutions allow the creation of a website in every aspect. Almost every CMS supports themes. Many also include drag-and-drop theme editing tools for customization.

They also include a built-in text editor. Content can be prepared via the control panel without the need for external software similar to Word. This simplifies the content creation process.

CMSs have user management systems. You can define what actions each user role can perform. For example, a user with a writer role can only write and submit articles to an editor, while an editor can edit and publish articles. This helps manage the content creation process collaboratively within teams.

What Are the Advantages of a CMS?

There are numerous advantages to using a CMS when creating a website. These advantages are as follows:

  • They are easy to use. Particularly during the content creation stage, no technical knowledge is required, allowing you to focus directly on content creation.
  • They simplify content management. Existing articles can be edited, and media files can be organized.
  • They facilitate the storage of created content.
  • You can access the CMS control panel from any location with an internet connection.
  • They can be easily scaled according to the number of users and visitors.
  • They are suitable for collaborative use within teams.
  • Different user roles can be defined with user management.
  • They support SEO, enabling the creation of pages that perform well in search engine results.
  • Security is considered in the development of CMSs.
  • CMSs that support plugins can be tailored to desired functionalities.
  • They can be customized with ready-made designs available for free or for a fee.
  • Updates prevent the website from becoming technologically outdated.

What Are the Disadvantages of CMSs?

Content management systems come with a few disadvantages as well. Especially using a self-hosted CMS can be challenging in the initial stages. However, for someone with technical knowledge, it may not be much of a disadvantage. CMSs typically come with comprehensive installation guides, and you can find content online on how to install and configure almost any CMS.

Support for a CMS can be discontinued. Like any software, the development of content management systems can be terminated. You might have to switch to another CMS. In the case of SaaS and hosted CMSs, they often come with limitations such as a maximum number of users or bandwidth, and they may charge additional fees for exceeding those limits. The potential for additional costs should be taken into account.

What Should Be Considered When Choosing a CMS?

Choosing the right CMS based on the intended use is crucial. First, the required features should be clearly defined. Ensure that the selected CMS can provide the necessary features for your website, either inherently or through plugin support.

When opting for an open-source CMS, consider the community support it has. A large user and developer community makes it easier to find help if any issues arise.

The plugin support provided by the CMS and the breadth of the existing plugin ecosystem are important. A CMS that meets your needs today should be adaptable to include additional features you might need in the future. The broader the developer ecosystem for the CMS, the more themes and plugins you can access.

If you are not opting for self-hosted solutions for website hosting, the features, costs, and potential vendor lock-in associated with other options should be researched.

Examples of CMSs

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of content management systems that can be cited as examples. Here are five of the most popular content management systems in terms of usage:


WordPress is the most widely used content management system on the internet. As of 2023, it is the most preferred CMS with a market share of 42%. This figure corresponds to 62% of all websites on the internet. You can create any type of website with WordPress. It can even be turned into an e-commerce site with plugins like WooCommerce. WordPress can be used in both self-hosted and hosted formats.


Shopify is a service for creating e-commerce sites that offers a CMS for its users to create their own sites. With the Shopify CMS, you can create, edit, and personalize your website. You can add, edit, and list your products. You can track sales and visitor data from the admin panel.


Wix, a website builder tool, includes a CMS that users can integrate into their sites. The content on sites created with Wix can be managed by this content management system.


Another website building service, Squarespace, allows you to create different types of sites such as e-commerce sites, blogs, and single-page websites. Squarespace is an all-in-one content management system.


Joomla, an open-source CMS, has been developed since 2005. Although it no longer enjoys the same level of popularity, it continues to be used on millions of websites created with Joomla.

Content management systems are one of the greatest helpers of web developers. You can start your web development career with's Bootcamp programs. If you believe you have enough experience in this field, you can apply for suitable positions among the job listings on the job page.

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