When choosing a content management system (CMS) for your business, it helps to understand the differences between the various types, their features and functions, and pricing models.
Types and examples of content management systems
There are three broad types of CMS software: open source, proprietary, and Software-as-a-Service CMS, including cloud-based solutions.
Open source CMS
You can download open source CMS software at no initial cost. There are no license or upgrade fees, or contracts. However, with open source CMS you may have to pay for:
- technical help during installation and set up
- customization to extend the software beyond the core offering
- compatible templates, add-ons and plugins (although free versions may be available)
- staff training
- support, including regularly updating the software
Examples of the most widely used open source CMS platforms include:
- Magento (e-commerce)
- PrestaShop (e-commerce)
You can install and manage open source CMS on a web server. While most solutions work out of the box, countless customizations are available to meet the different business needs, such as plugins for e-commerce websites, tools to help you optimize content for search engines or customize your design themes and layouts.
Proprietary or commercial CMS software is built and managed by a single company. Using such CMS generally involves:
- buying a license fee to use the software
- paying monthly or annual charges for updates or support
You may also need to pay additional costs for customization and upgrades, as well as for training and ongoing technical or user support.
Examples of popular CMS solutions include:
- Microsoft SharePoint
- IBM Enterprise Content Management
- Pulse CMS
You can usually customize proprietary CMS with built-in functionalities, although this may come at additional cost. If possible, look for a CMS solution that meets all your requirements out of the box. If you are implementing a proprietary CMS with an existing website or back-end system, be aware that this may require extensive development work.
Software as a Service (SaaS) CMS
SaaS CMS solutions commonly include web content management software, web hosting, and technical support with a single supplier. These are virtual solutions hosted in the cloud and based on a subscription model, usually on a per-user or per-site basis. The pricing usually includes:
- amount of data transfer (i.e. bandwidth to and from your site)
- storage for your content and data
- technical support
There are two types of cloud content management systems:
- ‘Fully cloud’ CMS often comes as part of a package or service. Typically, these are proprietary systems under the supplier’s control, so it isn’t always possible to customize or alter their functionality to suit your needs.
- ‘Partial cloud’ CMS is located on your own cloud webserver. It provides for greater flexibility since you can modify the functionality, either with add-on modules or by altering the source code.
Cloud CMS offers some significant benefits to small and medium-sized businesses. For example:
- costs are generally low – small set up fee usually covers a basic implementation
- SaaS supplier deals with upgrades, maintenance, and technical issues
- the software is accessible from any computer, laptop or mobile with an internet connection
- updates to software and features are available in real-time
- packages are easily scalable – you can add more sites or users as your needs change
Contact our technical team, and we will advise you on the best option for your business needs.