Content is the lifeblood of so many businesses. Without content, many companies would fail. The problem is, the more content you have, the harder it gets to manage. That’s where a good Content Management System (CMS) comes into play. Naturally, that brings up the question – what is content management? And why should you be using it?
These are two questions every company owner/manager should be asking themselves. The answer to them could help your business grow or at least become more efficient on the back end.
Let’s take a moment to figure out what content management is and then list some of the things it can do for you and your business.
What is ‘Content’?
First, we must ask the question “What is content?”. At first blush, the answer would be simple. It’s not! We can’t look to the usual sources for the definition, as Dictionary.com defines content as:
- Something that is contained: the contents of a box.
- The subjects or topics covered in a book or document.
- The chapters or other formal divisions of a book or document: a table of contents.
- Something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts: a poetic form adequate to a poetic content.
- Significance or profundity; meaning: a clever play that lacks content.
- Substantive information or creative material viewed in contrast to its actual or potential manner of presentation: publishers, record companies, and other content providers; a flashy website, but without much content.
- That which may be perceived in something: the latent versus the manifest content of a dream.
- Philosophy, Logic. the sum of the attributes or notions comprised in a given conception; the substance or matter of cognition.
We could probably piecemeal a fitting definition from the above, but even that wouldn’t quite give us our answer, at least when talking about web content. Instead, we have to consider the target for our definition. We’re talking about end-users, consumers, schools, students, businesses, developers, IT departments, IT staffing companies. The list goes on and on. Because of how extensive that list is, the definition of “content” must be all-encompassing.
Thus, I would pose a definition of content to be that which the user derives value from. It’s broad, but it works and it explains why content can be just about anything:
- Data analysis.
- Curated media.
- Physical products for sale.
- Digital products for sale.
- Services for sale.
Once again, the list goes on and on. And one consumer may derive value from one particular form of content, while another may not. For example, the average user might not find any value in data analysis content, yet a marketing professional would place quite a bit of value on that content.
Another way of saying this could be “content is in the eye of the beholder.”
Why You Should Use a Content Management System
Now that we know what content is, it should become crystal clear why you’d need something to manage it. If not, let’s see if we can help answer the question.
Consider this: your company has a website that offers content to users. That content could be anything from our list (or even things that aren’t on it). You could, technically speaking, approach the content management for your site by a haphazard, seat-of-your-pants method. This would mean every time you had to add a new piece of content (or repurpose a piece of content in a different way) you’d have to manage that manually.
In other words, you’d have to enter everything manually, from locating any images to be used to adding links and so on. This takes precious time you might not have. And when you’re charged with creating numerous pieces of content per day, it can be overwhelming.
That’s where a Content Management System comes in handy. With a CMS you could already have a collection of images to select from, bits of text to repurpose, audio, video — you name it. With a few clicks, you can put the pieces of that puzzle together in no time. And because everything is housed within the framework of the CMS, there’s no need to hunt for what you need. It’s all there.
This translates to an efficient workflow. And what business doesn’t aim for that?
Another serious consideration for the CMS is access control. With most modern CMS tools you can assign roles to different types of users. Some users can only view content, while others can create it. Some users can create content but not publish it, while some users have full control over every aspect of the platform.
A good CMS example is WordPress. With it, you can assign users the ability to write content but not edit it. Another type of user is allowed to write, edit, and publish content. You can also have users who are only able to view content. Finally, you have users who have permission to administer the entire WordPress site.
Without the right tools, managing those user access controls would be an incredible challenge – if not impossible.
As your business grows, you not only want to have an efficient workflow, you also want to be able to control who can do what with your content. If you don’t exercise such control you could wind up with users publishing content to your website at will. Such an environment is not conducive to a well-managed business. Because of this, you want to employ a Content Management System to keep track and control of all of your content.