Why use CMS?

By definition provided by Wikipedia:

“A content management system (CMS) manages the creation and modification of digital content.”

To understand why we use a CMS we first need to understand the importance of digital content that is created with the help of CMS. Digital content is basically the content being provided on a website by the owner of that website or company, it is arguably the most important part of the digital marketing efforts as it not only helps build trust and connect with the target audience, but also acts as fuel for other marketing techniques. Hence, it is important to give it the attention it deserves.

Now the reason why content management systems are used is because they can help a content writer create specialized content without having to write a single piece of code, because if a content writer started concerning himself/herself with how to code their content, to make it seem visually appealing it would require a lot of time as he/she would have to learn the new technologies first and creating a good website requires knowledge of different programming languages and their frameworks, to save time and get rid of this huge learning phase, in simpler terms to shorten the time to provide exclusive and specialized content which is visually appealing a content management system is used.

What is a CMS?

A content management system, usually abbreviated as a CMS, is a software which is used to help users create, manage and modify digital content without the need of specialized technical knowledge. In simpler language, a content management system is a tool that helps you build a website without needing to write all the code from scratch (or even know how to code at all). Instead of building your own system for creating web pages, storing images, and other functions, the content management system handles all that basic infrastructure stuff for you so that you can focus on more forward-facing parts of your website.

The picture below will show a graphical representation of the tasks performed by a CMS,

These systems typically support multiple users in a collaborative environment, allowing to perform document management with different styles of governance and workflows. Usually the content is a website (or part of it) and the term commonly refers to web content management systems. Web content may include text and embedded graphics, photos, video, audio, maps, and program code (such as for applications) that displays content or interacts with the user. By their nature, CMSs support the separation of content and presentation.

CMSs are typically used for the following things:

Enterprise Content Management (ECM): An ECM facilitates collaboration in the workplace by integrating document management, digital asset management and records retention functionalities, and providing end users with role-based access to the organization’s digital assets.

Web Content Management (WCM): A WCM facilitates collaborative authoring for websites. ECM software often includes a WCM publishing functionality, but ECM webpages typically remain behind the organization’s firewall.

What Makes up a CMS?

Speaking on technical terms a CMS is made up of two core components that are:

  • A content management application (CMA) – this is the part that allows you to actually add and manage content on your site (like you saw above).
  • A content delivery application (CDA) – this is the backend, behind-the-scenes process that takes the content you input in the CMA, stores it properly, and makes it visible to your visitors.

These two components are what makes your website easy to maintain.

CMS vs HTML?

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and is the standard language that is used for creating websites or web applications, by programmers, used with a variety of different languages such as CSS, JS and many more, for the reason of styling and making the content visually appealing. Whereas when using a CMS is similar to using Microsoft Word or software’s similar to it, since we have used these types of software’s for a long time it is easier to work with them and understand them. Now for a visual differentiation between a CMS and an HTML we look at the paragraph below.

Let’s start with creating a piece of content. Without a content management system, you’d need to write a static HTML file and upload it to your server (sounds complicated, right?). With a content management system like WordPress, you can just write your content in an interface that looks a bit similar to Microsoft Word:

From the above picture of WordPress, the simplicity can be seen now comparing this with HTML code as shown below:

Now we can see that working in WordPress provides simplicity and saves time rather than writing a HTML static code to do the same thing which is not understandable by a non-technical person. Now we compare uploading media for this example we’ll consider that the media is an image file now in WordPress:

While in HTML:

Hence, we can see that for a person without any specialized knowledge in programming languages it is much easier to create content in WordPress rather than learning HTML and CSS, and other frameworks.

What Features Does a CMS Provide?

Features may vary between different CMS software’s but the core features that are common among them are:

  • Intuitive indexing, search and retrieval features index all data for easy access through search functions and allow users to search by attributes such as publication dates, keywords or author.
  • Format management facilitates turn scanned paper documents and legacy electronic documents into HTML or PDF documents.
  • Revision features allow content to be updated and edited after initial publication. Revision control also tracks any changes made to files by individuals.
  • Publishing functionality allows individuals to use a template or a set of templates approved by the organization, as well as wizards and other tools to create or modify content.

CMS may also provide one-to-one marketing tools, they are used to provide user-specific content, for example a customer of the website will be provided recommended content or his/her homepage will be styled according to his history being recorded (i.e. search, content purchased, content viewed frequently, etc.). Hence, these tools help to better market the website.

Other popular features in CMSs are:

  • SEO-friendly URLs
  • Integrated and online help, including discussion boards
  • Group-based permission systems
  • Full template support and customizable templates
  • Easy wizard-based install and versioning procedures
  • Admin panel with multiple language support
  • Content hierarchy with unlimited depth and size
  • Minimal server requirements
  • Integrated file managers
  • Integrated audit logs

How to Choose a CMS?

There are numerous Content Management Systems out there which are used by various users or companies but if a CMS is to be chosen according to usage then see the list below:

But if the most popular are considered then according to my knowledge they are:

  • WordPress: WordPress is a content management system based on PHP and MySQL that is usually used with the MySQL or MariaDB database servers but can also use the SQLite database engine.

Advantages:

    • Loads of tools
    • Great selection of themes
    • Affordably priced business plans
  • Drupal: Drupal is a free and open-source content management framework written in PHP and distributed under the GNU General Public License. Drupal provides a back-end framework for at least 2.3% of all websites worldwide – ranging from personal blogs to corporate, political, and government sites.

Advantages

    • Unshakable security
    • Open-source platform
    • Highly customizable
  • Squarespace: Squarespace is a private American company, based in New York City, that provides software as a service for website building and hosting. Its customers use pre-built website templates and drag and drop elements to create webpages.

Advantages:

    • Beginner friendly
    • Intuitive UI
    • Loads of themes

Since there are various CMS software’s provided by different companies and they all offer almost the same features, hence, it is recommended to research on your own before buying a CMS for your personal use or company but it changes according to the user or company since it all depends on personal needs and preferences.

Salesforce as CMS:

Now that you have basic knowledge of what CMS is and how it works, we can move on to the main topic under discussion, that is, Salesforce as a CMS. For those of you who are not familiar with Salesforce it is a Customer Relation Management solution that provides a cloud-based solution, and the reason of its popularity. It has made quite a huge name in the market and is being used by many major companies to handle their clients/customers, hence it is ideal to expect a customer relation management system to also handle content for their clients/customers that is why using it as a CMS is highly beneficial. In simple terms, if you know the content your customer prefers then using the relation manager to provide alerts and content according to the customers track record will better the relation between company and customer. A content management system (CMS) lets you create and manage content from a single location, and then use that content in multiple places. With Salesforce CMS, you can share content across communities, curate content on a community by community basis, and assign access roles to control who creates content.

Content Management creating and sharing a content made with team effort and then curating organizing and displaying it. The overview of the process can be given as follows, content is created in your org (1) which is shared with one or more communities as destinations (2). You can organize and tag the content (3) and then add it to your community pages (4). The content is displayed to your users when the community is published (5).

Using the lightning templates for integrating CMS into salesforce will provide the fastest time to market whilst also allowing full customization and pixel perfect design. Additionally, the Salesforce client-side framework (Lightning) allows the web developers to work in a manner that is familiar to HTML/JS developers (single page app). Now adding CMS like style can be done in two ways, which are:

  1. CMS Connect: Allows you to specify external resources to include in your community deployment.
  2. Native Content: Allows you to create and manage content like news, blogs, promotions and publish them directly to your community site.

With CMS Connect the advantage is that key content elements for example header, navigation, footer, product promotions can be managed in one system and if they need to be updated, they can be updated once centrally and this will then be reflected across the CMS hosted and Salesforce hosted parts of the website. With this type of approach, a consistent experience and look is easily maintained for users across all elements of the website.

The Steps performed to connect a CMS with a Salesforce are as follows:

  • CMS Connect HTML allows you to integrate fragments of your HTML web content (i.e. headers, footers, and banners, etc) to have the same branding experience of your website into your communities.
  • CMS Connect JSON is best for when you want to bring in content lists (i.e. blogs, articles, product catalogs, files, etc) including authenticated content.
    • Before using CMS Connect enable Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) which is used to access external public content on Salesforce side (CORS is not needed if the content you are pulling in is authenticated). Then the JSON URL is required for external content.
  • Authenticate Support
  • CMS Connect Content Discoverability

The CMS supported by CMS Connect are:

  • Adobe Experience Manager
  • Drupal
  • SDL
  • Sitecore
  • WordPress

Personalized content can also be added to salesforce if the CMS being used is Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), stored JSON content can also be rendered in the community using CMS Connect. If you have several CMS then you can even decide a load order for your customers, the order mostly affects any CSS and JavaScript in your connections. Their dependencies should always be considered when creating a load order.

 

Please feel free to provide your invaluable feedback or contact us for any Salesforce implementation/integration effort. @CloudFountain team would be glad to be of help.

 

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