Content management system software, or CMS, is a collection of advanced internet tools to help create, upload and manage online content. While most CMS software includes web creation programs, the best CMS software can create custom sites using source code. This allows you to break free of rigid templates and include important eCommerce utilities, such as email help forms, shopping carts, point-of-sale systems and inventory management tools. Additional add-ons, such as document management, file distribution and project tracking are included in some of the CMS solutions we reviewed.
There are hundreds of CMS solutions out there. We narrowed the list down to the best content management systems with ocPortal, WordPress and WebGUI ranking the highest on our CMS reviews. We've also included several articles on content management system software.
When choosing a content management system, it is important to know the program's server database to ensure compatibility with your own programming expertise and web hosting tools. It is also helpful to know the server language. Since CMS programs need a lot of back-end programming in order to customize functions and tools, it's important your IT professionals know the coding language needed. Here are a few other points we considered during the review process of the best content management system software:
Anytime you share content online, it is important to make sure it is as secure as possible. Most of the CMS solutions we reviewed include extensive security measures for both developers and contributing users. Granular privileges allow you to set various access levels depending on the function of each user or department and the level of expertise. A sandbox is useful in allowing your development team to create and test possible links and functions of your website without tweaking the live site as they find mistakes and bugs. CMS programs that include a captcha function are helpful in determining if a contributor is human or a clever machine attempting to upload content to your site.
Commerce & Business Add-Ons
Content management systems are designed to help take your small business website to the next level. While simple web creation software can help you get a quick, informational site up, CMS software helps you incorporate important eCommerce tools, such as shopping carts and point-of-sale systems. You can also incorporate a customized help desk, live chat and inventory management. The best content management systems can track affiliate income including ad clicks on your site and third-party vendors that sell your products. Because you use your own source code to create your website, all of the functions, layouts and information on your site are unique, reflecting the theme, color and feel of your company.
Each CMS program we reviewed has an active community where other users share ideas for add-ons including the source code of many of them. While the nature of a content management system requires additional development, several solutions include themes and templates, usually created by fellow community members, for an easy plug-and-play solution to creating a website.
As your company grows, you may find the need to incorporate online tools for contact management, project tracking, document management and file distribution. These programs are not displayed on a company website but still use online resources and tools to ensure each company department or employee has access to this information. Most of the content management solutions in our top 10 include these medium business tools. Others allow you to utilize these features for an additional fee.
One of the primary functions of content management software is basic web creation. Most CMS programs come with traditional web-building tools and features, traditionally known as add-ons, so you can quickly upload a professional, working webpage, then develop it with more in-depth functions and tools later. Some features that are important for a CMS to include are a blog, wiki, discussion forms and other user-contribution features.
Being able to include a site map, search engine and custom dashboard are also features to look for. Most content management solutions don't include a graph or chart generator but instead require you to create these in a separate program then upload them to your website. But a few programs include this tool.
Ease of Use
As long as you understand the programming language needed for your CMS, it isn't difficult to include code for a variety of online functions, regardless of the solution you use. However, content management systems differ in how easy it is to use the standard web-building tools. If you need a step-by-step tutorial while setting up a basic website, you should look for a CMS that includes a site setup and a style wizard to help you choose a template, color scheme and text. Drag and drop, a spellchecker, and undo features help you make and upload a website quickly while still looking professional.
Customer service is important when using content management software. Look at the help and support options available for your solution. The more ways you can connect with support personnel, the more likely you will be able to get ahold of someone when you need to. Online tutorials, blogs, discussion forums and social media sites are also good ways to find help from not only the company itself, but other users, too.
Content management system software is the difference between a quick informational webpage and a fully functional, interactive, eCommerce site that easily caters to both your clients and employees. CMS can take your business one step further by helping you incorporate documentation management, project tracking and CMS tools.