Content management systems

Important CMS features and functions

Guide

Most content management systems (CMS) share a core set of features and functions to enable the creation and modification of digital content, documents and data.

What does a content management system do?

A typical CMS aims to help users manage information efficiently. The key functions of most CMS applications include:

  • storing
  • indexing
  • search and retrieval
  • format management
  • revision control
  • access control
  • publishing
  • reporting

For a more basic introduction to CMS, see what is a content management system.

While some CMS are available as basic 'off the shelves' packages, others can be customised and enhanced with advanced add-ons, plug-ins and other features. See different types of content management systems.

Popular web CMS features

A web content management system is typically capable of performing core CMS functions mentioned above. On top of this, however, web CMS may also include the following features:

  • SEO-friendly URLs
  • customisable templates to manage content presentation
  • permission-based access control
  • user and group functionality
  • content organisation structures, eg hierarchy and taxonomy
  • content virtualisation
  • versioning and workflow management
  • collaboration platform
  • delegation between user groups
  • language or user support
  • integrated file managers
  • integrated audit logs
  • install and upgrade wizards
  • compliance with website and accessibility standards

One of the most user-friendly CMS features is the WYSIWYG editor, or 'what you see is what you get' text-editing tool which works like Microsoft Word. This tool allows you to manipulate the webpage code without having to know the underlying programming language (HTML).

Beyond the creation and publishing of HTML content, you can also set up a CMS to:

  • support your online marketing campaigns
  • integrate with your customer relationship management system

A good CMS will also support your search marketing - helping to improve your search engine optimisation.

What is the best CMS for your website?

As with any software, the key to choosing a CMS is to thoroughly understand your requirements and limitations are before you decide on the solution. A good CMS will be SEO-friendly, help you meet accessibility and international web standards, and will have the features and the functionality to fit your specific business needs.

See our content management system requirements checklist and find tips to help you choose the best CMS for your business.