Is it time to ditch the content management system tag?

craig reardon

Does your website have a CMS or content management system?

If the answer is ‘no’, then you are likely to be paying much more for your website additions than you should.

A CMS is a password protected ‘admin’ area that allows ordinary computer users – usually following a little training or orientation, the ability to edit the content – for example, text, images and downloadable files.

Most CMS’s not only allow you to edit the ‘page’ area of your website, but also menu headings, animated graphical areas and other areas of your website.

Because most ordinary computer users can use them, it saves business operators the time, cost and inconvenience of having to contact (and pay for) their web designer or developer every time they want to delete or alter their website’s content.

An important capability

Content management systems have been available to smaller businesses almost since websites reached ‘critical mass’ back in 1995. It took just a few years for the first CMS’s to be priced at a point where smaller business could realistically afford them.

But as with all digital technology, it didn’t take long for our perceptions of what a CMS was to be fundamentally altered. Before long, previously complex, and hence expensive, capabilities like form builders, e-commerce, email marketing systems and more started to be added to your CMS.

Where you had e-commerce and email marketing, you also required a database of contacts, and so CRM or Customer Relationship Management capabilities started to be added.

A digital toolbox

With all of this activity going on, website owners soon wanted reports on exactly what users were doing on their websites and how much of this could lead to a sale or at least enquiry.

While Google Analytics provided great data on the website visit part of the equation, it couldn’t measure email marketing or e-commerce activity, or the relationship between them.

So website platforms soon started incorporating comprehensive and integrated reporting capabilities that could either replace or complement Google Analytics.

More than just content

All of these developments soon meant managing content was just one part of a far more sophisticated technology platform. But as yet, nobody has come up with a term to accurately describe these advance capabilities.

For many its simply the ‘admin’ area. To others like popular platform Business Catalyst, it’s an ‘online business’. More advanced systems take on names such ‘Inbound Marketing System’ or ‘Marketing Automation System’.

Unfinished business

But really, none of these provide an accurate portrayal of what these increasingly important systems do – at least for the smaller business. And why is it important anyway, provided everyone knows what they do?

It’s important because the online world is already very confusing to the average smaller business operator.

A spade it isn’t

By calling it a Content Management System, we aren’t really indicating the full range of capabilities of this kind of platform. This can mean that when having to choose between different systems, business operators aren’t necessarily comparing apples with apples and can be misled into choosing the wrong system for their requirements and budget.

To me, a name like ‘Digital Communications Hub’ or platform is a more accurate description of what it is they are now actually purchasing.

And for me, it would make it easier for the smaller business operators to get on with what they do best instead of comparing apples with oranges.

In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.  

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