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Content Management Systems
A Content Management System (CMS) is essentially a platfom on which to build a web site. It provides features that facilitate and automate the maintenance, organisation and display of various kinds of content. Thus using a CMS we can make featureful, user-friendly and attractive web sites for our clients at relatively little cost.
This page details some of the more general benefits and features a CMS provides. You can see a list of specific features on the Multi-purpose web site package page.
Overview of the CMS
The CMS we use, Drupal, is free and open-source (the source code is the “nuts and bolts” of a software system). It is used for many thousands of sites, from personal to community to enterprise scale. It has a very strong community and commercial support base spanning literally thousands of contributors. These factors mean that:
- Powerful and feature-rich web sites can be built with it for a low total cost of ownership (TCO).
- There is no lock-in due to proprietary software or obscure systems due to it being free, open-source and having a large commercial support base.
- High quality, secure software due to open-source development model, thousands of contributors and many thousands of web sites using (and continually testing) the system.
Major general benefits and features
- A highly extensible modular design, with thousands of existing modules that extend the core functionality in myriad ways.
- A powerful categorisation system with the options of:
- hierarchical structures allowing multiple parents,
- free-tagging: those categorising content can easily create categories rather than being forced to use a fixed taxonomy (like all other categories, categories created this way can later be reorganised such as by modifying heirarchy and merging),
- assigning content items to multiple categories,
- listing the categories a content item is in when the item is viewed,
- context sensitive display of heirarchies, eg displaying the sub-categories of a parent category when the parent is being viewed.
- The graphic design template applied to the web site can be switched effortlessly.
- All content is fully indexed and searchable from the web site.
- Search engine optimised/friendly (SEO).
- Designed to meet the requirements of an international audience, provides a full framework to create a multi-lingual website, blog, content management system or community application.
- Analysis, tracking and statistics: can print browser-based reports with information about referrals, content popularity and how visitors navigate your site.
- All important activities and system events are captured in an event log to that can be reviewed by an administrator at a later time.
- Can be administered entirely using a web browser, making it possible to access it from around the world and requires no additional software to be installed on your computer.
- High performance: the caching mechanism eliminates database queries increasing performance and reducing the server's load.
Major features for editors of a web site
- All content can be maintained by people with a typical level of computer skills.
- Easy control over various elements of the sites layout and appearance.
- A powerful version control system tracks the details of content updates including who changed it, what was changed, the date and time of changes made and more. Version control features provide an option to keep a comment log and enables rolling-back content to an earlier version.
- A flexible role-based access control system, allowing fine-grained control of who can access, create, edit and delete what.
Major features for developers of a web site
- Strong community with thousands of contributors means solutions are usually quick to find.
- Developers can create almost any kind of content type quickly (and cost-effectively).
- Highly flexible content display systems that developers can use to quickly (and cost-effectively) create complex and effective layouts of content.
- The theme (style or graphic design) system separates content from presentation allowing simpler and easier control of the look and feel.
- Designed to be platform agnostic, can run on many web and database server configurations.