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What Is A (Web) Content Management System?

by Ken Manheimer last modified Aug 08, 2011 11:58 PM
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I like clear written communication. A versatile content management system can help harness the web's enormous potential for connecting clearly with others. This rough stab at identifying some key aspects may be useful for really sorting out the story when I'm faced with the question.

a content management system supports collaborative production and maintenance of informative web sites.

  • it enables division of labor
    • by speciality
      • style
      • content authoring
      • infrastructure - organization of style and content
      • automation - programming
    • by authority
      • who can do what on the site
      • workflow - mechanisms by which roles regulate
      • mechanisms which enable orchestrated release process (staging)
  • it provides tools for authoring:
    • content and styles
    • content categorization and organization
    • content converted from external formats
    • to construct inteconnections among local content and between local and external content
      • including automatic tracking of location changes
  • it enables doing things systematically:
    • regulation - who can do what - create/edit/delete/manage
      • ownership
      • delegation of authority
    • indexing, for content discovery and management
    • versioning and collaboration
      • so new versions of content can be gradually prepared while prior versions remain publically visible
      • so multiple authors can collaborate on content refinements without accidental overwrites and other mishaps
    • templating
      • content appearance and formatting can be systematically adjusted
      • page regions that are common across various areas of the site (C-wrap and O-wrap, headers, footers, etc) can be systematically administered
    • content types
      • structured information
        • news site items - of different types, eg article, weather report, tv listing, ad, horoscope, etc
        • problem/solution item (tracker)
        • business profile, personal profile
      • rich media - office document, video, audio, mixtures, etc
    • advanced - supports automation and interoperation with external programs
      • categorization and cataloging of content for organization
      • basic facilities can be built upon to implement applications
      • and accommodate/incorporate external applications
        • wrap superficially
        • integrate deeply - database, calculation, communication, etc

CMS can do lots of different things lots of different ways. there's not one product for each thing being done. rather, you adapt the system to your organization's needs, and grow it/them from there.

need to be clear about what those needs are and will be, so that you embark on and with something that will suit you as you grow.

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