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Understanding Content Management Systems

My implementation of WordPress as a fully functioning content management system for my site prompted me to write a layman’s explanation of CMS (CMS is short for content management system). My most recent post on The Virtual Handshake examines this exact topic.

I think the following two paragraphs sum of the key points of what I wrote:

*With CMS, the content of a site is stored outside of design elements – the content is actually stored in a database. The first benefit with this model is that implementing a new design becomes just about as simple as copying new template files – graphics, formatting, font styles, etc. – to a server. The second is that the content of the site – the data in the database – can be easily backed up and stored for safe keeping.

To better understand this model, imagine that the content (‘data’) of your site is like a window in your home. To spruce up a window, you can put up some blinds or use a variety of different curtains. These decorative elements are similar to the design (‘presentation’) of your site. Curtains can be easily switched at any point, to change the appearance of the window but the window is still a window. The same holds true for the design of content managed sites; new design templates can change the entire appearance or specific styles and formatting of your site but the content remains constant.

The post goes into much more detail, including a brief historical background of the problems of traditionally “managed” websites. Take a peak if you are interested.

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