Content Management Systems (CMS) do exactly what they say; allow the site owner or administrator to manage the content in pre-defined (dynamic) areas of their website without having to refer to web designers first.
It's quick, it costs nothing but the time you input and the content changes updated are immediately apparent on the website.
If you were to compare a CMS developed 10 years ago to one today, there would be similarities, but the user interface has improved vastly. There is as much focus on making the CMS user friendly and dare I say it "intuitive" as there is on the published website. Basically a CMS allows you to add, edit or delete content on a website without compromising the design, display and functionality.
Some websites require very little administration, perhaps to publish a news item on a monthly basis and we tend to refer to these sites as brochure or static websites.
Other website CMS's are complicated because they deliver a lot.
We receive a lot of enquiries which relate to people's conceptions that a website is built up of a number of HTML pages: you click on the link to the page and it appears on the computer screen.
This is logical and also true, but it implies perhaps, the misconception that for instance if you have two hundred products you would have a page designed for each product and thus the size of your website is over 200 pages and every time you need another product you have to have another web page designed and links to that page applied to all other connecting relevant pages on the site.
There are a lot of examples of this, but it is time consuming and has been largely superseded by the use of databases.
Instead of having a page for each product, the solution is to design a single page to display the product information in a consistent format for all products i.e.
Number of products available
The database would store all of this information
So, in effect the database would then use the same single page to display any of the products in the database.
The database can have as many products in it as is required, but in it's simplest format only one page is required to display any of the products.
So, what are the pro's and cons of a data driven website versus a website with a dedicated page designed for each product or service?
Well, if you intend to have a limited number of products and the information associated with each of the products or services is unlikely to change, it may well be that the non database website (Static) is for you and it will also allow you to have custom built pages for each product and that is absolutely 100% OK.
Content Management Systems allow the population of your data driven website without compromising the integrity of the website design.
With a CMS website you have much more potential and flexibility:
PRODUCTS - You can add as many products as you like, you can change content associated with each product, price, description, size, colour, you can create product categories and sub categories.
CUSTOMISED PAGES - You can have pages designed for each category to ensure individuality.
DYNAMIC CONTENT - You can have pages that have the product or service displayed, but also allow banners to be incorporated and changed as required.
SEARCH - You can do a search on your product range within given parameters i.e. you could search for any product within a price range or you could do a keyword search on the title or description of your products - this is great for site users as they can access information quickly and accurately as opposed to perhaps giving up and seeking the answers elsewhere on the internet.
SCALABILITY - Typically a data driven website allows "bolt ons" in that you want to add an additional service or product to the website. An example would be perhaps if you wished to add an option to guarantee the products you were selling for an additional period of time - this would be a simple option within a data-driven website.
This scenario relates to products and dwells perhaps too much on retail websites, however the same principle applies to website features such as News features, FAQ's, articles, personnel and more.
If you have reached the conclusion that we are a tad enthusiastic about data-driven websites, then you would be right, because they make life so much easier IF and that is the question: if this relates to your requirements.