What Are Content Management Systems? (Types And Features)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A content management system (CMS) is a software application that automates tasks before and after publishing online content. It helps content writers and web developers deliver well-formatted and polished content and store and retrieve crucial digital assets. If you want to be a content writer or a web developer, learning about using a CMS can be beneficial. In this article, we examine what content management systems are, what features they typically have, what functions they perform and the different types of CMS.

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What Are Content Management Systems?

Content management systems (CMS) are software programmes or a set of programmes that allow you to organise large amounts of digital content from an array of sources. Digital content in a CMS may include blog posts, press releases, guides or user manuals that a business may publish on websites, mobile applications, business portals and social media platforms. It provides a single interface from which multiple users can add, edit or remove content in a structured manner. A CMS usually has two principal components:

  • Content management application: A content management application (CMA) is a user interface that allows individuals to modify content for a web page. A CMA's ease of use reduces the requirement of specialists.

  • Content delivery application: A content delivery application (CDA) applies the users' changes to the web page.

What Does A Content Management System Do?

A CMS simplifies the steps involved in building a website. It helps website designers and content managers deliver high-quality content for multiple digital channels and platforms. It also provides analytics on the impact of content and management staff may use this information to understand user behaviour. The primary functions of a CMS include:

  • Creating, editing and publishing content efficiently

  • Formatting content suitable for multiple channels like websites and mobile applications

  • Storing and retrieving assets like images and videos

  • Creating access control for multiple users like writers, designers, editors and managers

  • Creating reusable components of content for repetitive and common features

  • Integrating with other systems like a CRM or an e-commerce system

  • Setting up content workflows for necessary approvals before publishing

  • Setting up a content review process

  • Reporting on website traffic, SEO analytics and user behaviour

What Are The Different Types Of Content Management Systems?

Content management can be of many types based on its functionality, purpose, level of control and the extent of its ability to track and manage content. While some CMS only manage content for a web page, some can help create and manage different types of digital content. Some prominent categories of CMS include:

Web content management system (WCMS)

Web content management system (WCMS) is an application that creates, stores, manages and publishes content for a webpage. The content can include text, graphics, audio or video files. It stores content, metadata and assets in a database and uses languages like XML or .Net for assembling the content. A user can edit a website or webpage content from a web browser and also control parts of the layout. A WCMS can manage web page content for employees, business partners, third party contractors or the public. There are three types of WCMS:

  • Open source CMS: A user can use or download the open source software without a fee.

  • Commercial CMS: Companies create CMS after obtaining licences to sell commercial CMS software, which may be faster and ready-made for use.

  • Custom CMS: It is ideal for businesses to create a tailor-made CMS that suits their content requirements. Depending on specific needs, a business may invest towards creating their own CMS, suited to their business practice and industry.

Component content management system (CCMS)

A component content management system (CCMS) is a type of CMS that breaks down and manages content at a granular level. A component is a piece of structured content of any length and it can be a word, paragraph, a series of paragraphs, a picture or a video. CCMS is a single-source system that centralises the content creation process. A user can move or rearrange the components already present in the CCMS. They can complete writing, reviewing, editing and publishing from one system. The advantage of CCMS is that it allows content reuse, tracking and multi-channel publishing.

Digital asset management (DAM) software

Digital asset management (DAM) software allows users to upload, sort, share and track digital assets belonging to a business. Digital assets include images, photos, videos, blueprints, drafts, spreadsheets, presentations and documents. A business uses these assets to influence purchase behaviour and for building brand image and awareness. DAM gives users from multiple departments and business units controlled access to digital assets, content and workflows. Users can create, import, edit or archive old content, identify users, assign roles and controls, define workflow processes and personalise content. They can schedule periodic backups to keep the assets secure.

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Enterprise content management (ECM) system

An enterprise content management system manages content throughout its lifecycle from ideation to publishing. It helps store, archive and manage unstructured data like emails, reports and official documents. A business can retrieve information to create and deliver the right content to employers and other stakeholders. ECM drives digitisation, reduces dependency on physical documents and helps in simplifying and streamlining work. It can help in organising and managing crucial business and process documentation. ECM software typically has in-built features that help organisations meet regulatory guidelines. This can reduce legal and compliance-related risks.

Features Of Content Management Systems

The main goal of a content management system is to simplify the content production process and efficiently achieve organisation goals. The features of a CMS help optimise its purpose and objective. To be most effective, a CMS typically has the following features:

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Search engines operate on algorithms to ensure that web searches return the most relevant pages. To leverage SEO, a CMS uses keywords, code and meta descriptions to increase the probability of the organisation's page appearing in a keyword search. It can also attract readers through searches for images, videos or interactive content. SEO is an indispensable feature of every CMS as it helps interpret and index content to direct relevant web pages to end users.

Related: What Is An SEO Analyst? (With Skills, Duties And Salary)


It is important to know details about who visits your webpage, when they visit it and for what reasons. This information enables you to target the right readers. With CMS analytics, you can find out visitors' demographic information, the technology they use, peak web traffic intervals and the most popular content. With this information, a company can develop content that is likely to increase traffic to their website.

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You can use a content management system to process content for a variety of publications. A business may design a web page with one landing page and a few sub-pages. Another company might want a blog, a page for news items and a section for embedded documents. A CMS can offer several usage options to suit the requirements of an organisation.


Depending on the size of a company, their CMS could have a large number of users, each with different roles. A CMS with a well-structured workflow assigns tasks and responsibilities, and tracks the order of their priority. Workflow ensures accountability as it becomes necessary for a user to complete their tasks, for the next user to begin theirs.


Permission levels within a CMS can pertain to writers, editors, publishers and administrators. Each of these roles can have different permission levels to work with content in a CMS. For example, you can set permissions such that writers can only create content, while administrators add and remove content, assign roles, access analytical data and create reports.

Version control

With many users working on a CMS, there is a chance that a user may modify, add or remove content by mistake. A CMS typically allows you to restore a previous version of your content or site. Version control is also useful because it permits you to create temporary content that you can remove without rebuilding your original site.


Security is important to keep company information and customer data private and secure. This is especially necessary for companies that conduct financial transactions online. A CMS with strong security ensures the safety of individuals or groups involved with your company's site.

IT support

Although a CMS reduces the hiring requirement for coders, a business may require IT professionals for technical assistance. A CMS can usually provide IT support for tasks that professionals may not be familiar with. For instance, IT support can provide proper direction to use the insert image feature if you have trouble embedding an image.

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