What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
A content management system is a computer application that allows publishing, editing and modifying content, organizing, deleting as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment. [- Wikipedia]
Most Content Management Systems (CMS) reside online where you would use a computer or other device to access your site by signing in through a browser (Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, etc.).
Some CMSs work better in certain browser than others which varies from one CMS to another. Most work cross-platform (Mac, Windows, etc.) to use. And, whichever one you choose, your site would be seen on any browser or any device.*
Most Web designers/developers, like myself, have favorite CMSs. Mine is Webvanta, which is proprietary. Proprietary means, in this case, Webvanta must host your site on their servers and your site would not work as compiled or coded on another system or without any CMS. However, with a proprietary CMS, the company controls the backend, updates are made by them and often the stability of the system (including hacking) is more robust.
To read a bit more about Webvanta, I talk about it in this post:
Can the site owner edit his or her own site and what is a CMS?
Many people are aware of a CMS named WordPress. WordPress was originally designed as a blog system that eventually became a more fully developed website builder with a blog and containing a lot of blog features throughout the system. If you have a home-based business and just starting out, sometimes I recommend people get a WordPress site. For a simple site, many people are able to set it up themselves because WordPress has tons of templates to start from.
I tell people to start at WordPress.com, click the Create a Site button and you are off and running. First you will need to choose what is called a subdomain. For instance, if your business is some type of consulting and your biz name is Carol Burns Consulting, you could choose the subdomain of the initials, if available, cbc.wordpress.com. This part is free. If you want to use a domain name (such as BurnsConsulting.com), then it will cost you some small amount each month for hosting (and also paying yearly for the domain name).
If you followed the above directions, you will be hosted at WordPress.com. There are lots of good hosting companies that offer WordPress as a CMS on their servers. One of my favorites is BlueHost.com. They are very helpful through the process and once you have a site up and running.
If you are happy with just the subdomain name (in this example cbc,wordpress.com), you could have a free site until you want to graduate your business to a more professional level.
Even though Webvanta is a proprietary CMS and WordPress is what is known as Open Source (other hosting companies offer the system), they are far from equal. Cost, especially hidden costs, is an issue. With Webvanta, the monthly costs would be more than with a WordPress site. However, a WordPress site, if you need more than a basic, more or less static brochure site, can potentially cause you to pay a developer to help you more often than with a system like Webvanta.
The way I set up sites for my clients in Webvanta is to make sure they can be self sufficient, if they want to be. I give them easy training and a manual at the end of the project and let them call me when they forget things and get stuck. Then my clients often only need me to do more complicated add-ons but could do fine with the regular maintenance.
* Not all CMSs are mobile friendly, which does not your site can't be seen on mobile devices. It means the site can be hard to read (everything is too small), hard to navigate (buttons or links are difficult to touch in the right spot) and certain things such as slide shows do not operate correctly. If you use Flash (a proprietary animation widely used), it is not seen/does not work on most used mobile devices. To read more of my posts concering mobile devices, go to my blog category: Mobile-Friendly.