A Content Management System (CMS) is a piece of software that runs on a server. Typically a database application, a CMS makes it easy to publish and administrate content.
Some basic features that are common to all CMS:
Separation of content, structure and design
A CMS improves the life cycle of your website for years to come. The "look and feel" of your site can be changed or relaunched, leaving existing content and page architecture untouched. No need to worry about copying and pasting content into another site, simply publish your new design and the CMS will pull the content into the new look.
Easy content production, no programming skills required
If you can use a computer, you can manage the content for your website. Using a graphical user interface, authors can simply create text, insert images an multimedia files, schedule content (and much more) to build and maintain a dynamic website.
Just imagine: You will never need to make another menu button again, or pay a web designer to do it for you. Each time you add or change a page, the menu will automatically update to reflect the change. Having to learn or purchasing photo editing software will not be necessary. You can upload images straight to the web from your digital camera / DV camera or a scanner.
Common advantages of a CMS:
Decentralized maintenance. Typically based on a common web browser. Edit anywhere, anytime. Bottlenecks removed.
Designed with non-technical content editors in mind. People with average knowledge of word processing can create the content easily. No HTML skills required.
Configurable access restrictions. Users are assigned roles and permissions that prevent them from touching content in which they are not authorized to change.
Consistency of design is preserved. Because content is stored separate from design, the content from all authors is presented with the same, consistent design.
Navigation is automatically generated. Menus are typically generated automatically based on the database content and links will not point to nonexistent pages.
Content is stored in a database. Central storage means that content can be reused in many places on the website and formatted for multiple devices (web browser, mobile phone/WAP, PDA, printer).
Dynamic content. Extensions like forums, polls, shopping carts, search engines, news management are typically drop-in modules. A good CMS also allows for truly user defined extensions.
Daily updates. You do not need to involve web designers or programmers for every little modification - you are in control of your website.
Cooperation. Encourages faster updates, enforces accountability for content editors via log files and promotes cooperation between authors.
Content scheduling. Content publication can often be time-controlled; hidden for previews; or require a user login with password
Although your visitors may never know whether your website is built with a content-management system or the more traditional 'static-page' form of website, the difference is something that you - as the site's owner - will notice from the word go. Here are the main advantages of using a CMS (content management system) to build and deploy your business's website.