How a Content Management System (CMS) Works—and Why You Need One for Your Business


Posted on July 23, 2019 by Aaron Johnson

There was a time when adding new website content required a web developer. To update the website, a developer would create a file on their computer, then transfer the file to a web server via an FTP program. It was far from a user-friendly experience.

Fortunately, those days are long gone. Today, content management systems allow users to create, edit, and publish content to their website without any technical complexities. By far, the most well-known and widely-used CMS is WordPress. It’s estimated that WordPress powers around one-third of all websites on the internet.

Other popular CMS platforms include Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. These website-building applications have empowered virtually anyone with basic computer proficiency to create and manage their own website. But how do content management systems work? In this post, we’ll explain what’s going on “under the hood” of a CMS application—and why it’s a must-have in today’s digital landscape.

What is a content management system?

CMS platforms enable users to create websites with relative ease. But what are they exactly? Simply put, a CMS is a software application that streamlines the content management process with easy-to-use interfaces. For example, if you want to publish a new blog post on your website, a CMS interface makes that as effortless as typing a word document.

Here’s what the back-end of WordPress would look like to a user that wants to create a new blog post:


As you can see, the user is able to add text, format the post, upload media, and publish with the click of a button.There can be many other features and functionalities included in a CMS, but this example demonstrates one of the most essential concepts.

How does a content management system work?

To understand how a CMS works, you must first understand how a website works. Your website is powered by the data within its database. That database is made of tables, which contain information for how your website should be displayed. Every page on your website is rendered based on information from one of your database tables. There’s a data table for your home page, your ‘about’ page, your blog posts, etc.

To modify your website or add new content, you’ll need to update the tables in your database. That’s where a content management system comes into play. A CMS is a graphical user interface that allows you to manipulate the data in your database. The interface is designed to be as easy-to-use as possible. So, by using the interface of a CMS, you can modify your website’s database without any knowledge of coding or database structure. For example, if you create a new blog post within your CMS interface, that post is automatically entered into your website’s database for you (making it an official part of your site).

two women at desk looking at laptop

Content management systems are built around the WYSIWYG concept (what you see is what you get). They allow users to create/edit website content as it appears, rather than dealing with the code behind it. At the end of the day, this makes managing web content easier, faster, and more accessible.

Why do you need a content management system?

As we’ve seen above, content management systems are all about ease-of-use. With a CMS, adding new web content and blog posts is relatively effortless, allowing you to publish more content at a higher frequency. But why does constantly adding new content matter to your business? Two words: Content Marketing.

In the digital age, web content is a valuable marketing asset for businesses of all sizes. Publishing new content has direct business benefits, including:

  • Increased search engine traffic
  • Increased engagement with your target audience
  • More inbound leads (resulting from the two notions above)

A strong content marketing plan requires fresh content to be published on your website—which is part of the reason a CMS is so important for your business. A CMS helps you implement your content needs efficiently, which allows you to make the most of your content marketing efforts.

At Social Link, we specialize in elevating businesses with proven digital strategies (including content marketing and web development). If you have any questions about content management systems or would like to learn more about how Social Link can grow your business, request a free consultation.

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