When you want to create a website or blog for personal or professional use, you are most likely to turn to a web content management system (WCMS) such as WordPress or Joomla. These are software systems that support website authoring and collaboration, and usually come equipped with administrative tools to help both novice and expert users control the website. The software encapsulates HTML pages, saving the user the time it would take to gain expertise in this area. A good WCMS forms the basis of a collaborative effort to manage website pages and allows for multiple authoring. These systems run using a central database, often MySQL, which is freeware. All page contents, plus data about data, are stored in the database. The database is maintained separately from the presentation layer, which allows for flexible packaging of features into templates or themes. For instance, a WordPress theme will establish the basic look and feel of the website.
Contents of a website are secured by a WCMS. Roles can be assigned to users and visitors which describe each person’s access privileges. For instance, one can be allowed to enter new content but not edit existing articles or blogs. The security aspects, and indeed all features of a WCMS, are designed to make it easy to use and require very little training.
WCMS are routinely used throughout industry to provide communication and marketing channels to the public. In some cases, federal regulations can affect the use of a WCMS. For example, in the financial industry, a public prime brokerage is free to market its services to the public via a website, whereas online hedge fund marketing is sharply curtailed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
A WCMS offers a variety of advantages, including:
- Economy: many excellent WCMS are available for free or at nominal cost. High priced systems are available for large enterprises, but usually the cost per user is still low.
- Customization: Prepackaged themes are applied to the basic WCMS structure to give customized results. Within each theme, the user can determine individual features, such as use of footers and sidebars.
- Ease of Use: You don’t have to be a techie to use a WCMS. The user interface is intuitive and requires next to no training. All administration can be accomplished through easy-to-use dialogs.
- Work Flow Management: The WCMS owner controls the content and timing of publication, and can set up work flow rules that guide the publishing of content through a series of pre-defined steps.
A WCMS is just about a necessity nowadays for anyone wanting to set up a blog site or e-commerce website.