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Guide to content management systems

Technically speaking, a content management system (CMS) is the place where content including text, image, video and audio assets is stored and then used to publish that content to a front-end presentation layer like a website, mobile application or other device. These days, however, content management systems have grown to encompass much more than a one-dimensional content database and now serve as the central hub for driving digital transformation.
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What's the best content management system?

The best content management system (CMS) is the one that meets your needs effectively. Each organization has its own unique goals for content, and finding the best CMS will depend on your specific objectives.

For example, if your organization has many individuals creating, designing, editing and publishing content, the best CMS will be one that accommodates a large number of users. If your organization is active on social media and you want to integrate your content with your social media accounts, you’ll want to seek out with one seamless social media tools, ensuring that your content is quickly shareable with social buttons and allowing you to automate social posts at the same time you schedule items for publication.

Most organizations don’t need a CMS that does everything, they just need a CMS that does all the things they want it to do. You can figure out the best CMS for your organization by first determining the tasks and features you deem most important. Then you can use your list of requirements as a measuring stick to gauge which CMS is the best choice for you.

The best CMS will help you manage your brand identity, tell your business’s story and unify your publishing voice. It should also simplify the task of creating, gathering, storing and accessing content when you need it.

When you have a list in mind of the priorities that matter most to you, measure potential content systems against that list. Keep in mind that the best content management system is the one that best meets your specific needs.

What do you want from your CMS?

Various content systems can provide a wide variety of services. But the only services that matter are the ones you’ll actually use. Start by determining your productivity must-haves, and if you find a CMS that also includes extras, even better. To get started, consider this list of common CMS features and consider making your own list of specific needs.
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Is your CMS easy to use?
Many businesses seek a CMS to simplify the process of creating content and posting it to the web and want one that’s as easy to use as Word or Google Docs, without a need for users to understand coding or software development.
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Does your CMS support a growing number of users?
Do you need a CMS that will accommodate a certain number of users to manage and collaborate on content? Is it easy to manage permissions, workflows and other project needs?
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Is it easy to find content and other assets in your CMS?
You may be looking for a CMS that allows you to search past posts or videos in an instant. That searchability makes it easy to update, repurpose or republish older items just like new. You can also easily audit the site for the use of certain keywords.
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Will your CMS scale as your business grows?
Do you want a CMS that will scale with your organization as it grows? Look for a system that offers versions for organizations of different sizes or can accommodate various numbers of users.
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Can you customize your CMS to suit your business needs?
If you have specific ideas about how you want your CMS to work and how you want your content to look, you may not be happy with simple templates and one-size-fits-all solutions. Instead, you may want a CMS that is fully customizable to your specifications.
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Is your CMS secure?
Data security is important for most organizations, and that includes the data that will be housed in your content management system. How important is security to your CMS search, and what specific safeguards are you seeking out?
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Are you getting real value from your CMS investment?
What is your CMS budget? Make sure you understand all the costs involved with the CMS you choose. Some options will require add-on expenses, while others provide all-in-one solutions.
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Are you getting the best support from your CMS partner?
A new software tool often comes with a learning curve. Is it important to you to find a CMS that provides customer service when you need help making it work for you?
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Content management systems explained

What is a content management system?

As the name suggests, a content management system is a resource to manage content. It’s a software application that allows users to create, edit and produce digital content like web pages and blog posts.

What are the benefits of a CMS?

One of the key benefits of a content management system is the ease by which any team member can create and share content. After setting up the system, you will need little to no support from your IT department.

Who needs a content management system?

Content creators use the content management system as a single control panel to complete actions such as writing text or inserting pictures. A content management system can be used to run an entire website. Or it can connect through the back end to an existing web system.

How does a content management system work?

A content management system typically features two key components: the content management application and the content delivery application.

The content management component is where contributors write content and add media assets like images and videos. It's also where they organize elements like page templates that impact how the content is displayed on the front end. Typically, the content objects stored in your content management layer are stored in a database.

The content management application is also home to the workflows and templates that power the authoring and publishing experience. And once a content asset is published, it's where contributors make ongoing edits and updates.

The content delivery side is the layer that delivers the content to the presentation layer—often referred to as the front end. Content management systems, like Brightspot CMS, should be flexible enough to connect the CMS to any front end of choice.

The most common types of content management systems include traditional CMS, decoupled or headless CMS, or a hybrid-headless solution to suit each individual business’ needs (more on that below).
The options for CMS architectures have grown along with the numbers of vendors trying to convince you their approach is the best. To help you cut through all the clutter, we've developed guides to explain the differences between the main types of CMS platforms, including coupled CMS, decoupled CMS and headless CMS, as well as the pros and cons for each.The options for CMS architectures have grown along with the numbers of vendors trying to convince you their approach is the best. To help you cut through all the clutter, we've developed guides to explain the differences between the main types of CMS platforms, including coupled CMS, decoupled CMS and headless CMS, as well as the pros and cons for each.

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