Content Management Systems explained
You've probably heard the phrase CMS or Content Management System. I'll explain what it is and some of the benefits.
A CMS is a system which sits behind a website and allows you to edit a website easily. It's called a content management system because it specifically allows changes to the content of the website - the text, images and links on pages - but not the layout or design, which stays fixed.
The usual method of changing web content is by logging in and gaining access to an admin or control panel. This gives options of creating, editing or deleting pages as well as setting up page order and hierarchy (which pages are sub-options of others).
When it comes to editing pages this is normally done through a visual or WYSIWYG editor, which is short for "What You See Is What You Get" so no knowledge of HTML or web page coding is required. It's very easy to use, as easy as using Microsoft Word, probably easier. You write your page's content in a large text area and have buttons to help with formatting - Bold, Italics, Underline, bullets, numbering, text alignment, indent, etc. You may be able to select from a limited range of fonts though this is usually controlled by the design template to ensure a consistent look and feel throughout the site. The best part is, you don't even have to use the WYSIWYG editor - you can simply paste your content from another application, like Word.
As well as working with text you can insert various media - images, video clips, audio files, Flash.
So, what are the benefits? Well, the main benefit is that anyone can use it which means that your site can be managed by anyone. In a medium or large company that means anyone in a team, not just the IT person or contracted web design company. For a small private site it gives you full freedom to control your content and changes happen instantly - no more waiting for the web designer to make your changes.
If you're still using a static website and relying on someone else to update it, it's time to take control and manage your own content.