What is a content management system (CMS)?

A content management system (CMS) helps companies manage digital content. Whole teams can use these systems to create, edit, organize, and publish content. It acts as a single place to store content and provides automated processes for collaborative digital content management and creation using built-in (or designed) workflows. Different privileges and responsibilities are provided to individuals based on roles. For example, authors can post and save their work, but editors can modify and publish it. Administrators can do all these things as well as grant other people in the organization permission to update or revise content.

A CMS helps create and manage websites and website content using minimal technical overhead, so you can make better content instead of acting as a project or traffic manager. By providing an easy and cost-effective solution for content management, a CMS allows companies to manage and distribute their content without investing in a full-time content development team.

Types of content management systems (CMS)

Nearly every CMS is comprised of two parts—the front end and the back end. The front end is the part the user interacts with. It’s how websites are visibly structured and styled. The front end brings HTML, CSS, and JavaScript together to deliver rich, interactive content that’s styled to match your company’s branding.

The back end of a CMS is the application that is used to post new content to a website. The process begins by accessing a web interface to easily add, create, and publish content to your CMS’s front end. Rather than knowing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you create content in an interface similar to Microsoft Word. The back end then stores this content in the database and publishes it to the front end of the website.

Together, these two systems comprise the CMS. They allow you to publish content without understanding web technologies or building your web application from the ground up.

The following are some of the different types of content management systems that are available today.


Coupled CMS

A coupled CMS is often referred to as a traditional CMS. It offers a fully accessible back end that connects to and modifies a website’s database and publishes content to a styled front end.

While a coupled CMS is an all-in-one solution, the main distinction between it and a software-as-a-service (SaaS) CMS is that a coupled CMS requires dedicated web hosting to run. Although web hosting is relatively inexpensive, it's important to remember that a CMS requires installing and maintaining specific technologies to make the software functional.

Additionally, a coupled CMS will likely require that an administrator set it up and configure the system installation for ongoing use. WordPress is an example of a coupled CMS, as it offers a complete package for users to install, launch a website, and publish content moving forward.



A SaaS CMS is also a complete, end-to-end solution, but unlike coupled CMS, SaaS CMS is hosted in the cloud. Which means that it requires no actual setup, installation, or preconfigured web hosting.

A SaaS-based CMS is an excellent solution for companies who need a straightforward web presence, as it offers all the capabilities without any of the server or web-hosting overhead. It enables all kinds of users to quickly create websites, manage the content, and distribute it through digital channels.


Decoupled CMS

In a decoupled CMS, the presentation part of the website is “decoupled” from the back end. The delivery system sits between the presentation of the website and accesses the back end through an application programming interface (API).

A decoupled CMS is an advanced solution that offers greater flexibility to interact with the content created in the back end. For example, suppose an organization wants to use its library of content for a new purpose, such as mobile applications. In that case, a decoupled CMS is an appealing solution because it supports multiple, adaptable applications on the front end while keeping your content and information consistent in the back end.


Headless CMS

A headless CMS has only a back-end system that accesses a database and stores content with a custom-built, front-end web application. It offers greater flexibility than a decoupled CMS, but it also requires considerably more work than any other option. A headless CMS also usually requires a developer to design, create, and connect a front-end application.

A headless CMS is a good solution for organizations that need complete control and flexibility over how their content is accessed. It provides content storage and organizational capabilities while allowing for a custom application on the front end—whether a website, a mobile app, or some other front end.

Core features to a content management system

Finding out what features of a CMS are critical to your business might start with what features are core to a content management system. Leveraging side-by-side comparisons of content management solutions and products can be helpful to your decision-making process. Still, the core question is, what features are core to any solution?

User roles and role-based content management

There are different types of roles within any Content Management System. Understanding how they work together is essential to giving your users access to perform their duties and access appropriate digital content. These range from typical organization roles to application management roles, task and feature comparison by application roles, to the resource (permissions) type roles, deciding what users can see and do with the content, including documents, sites, or templates.

Digital asset management

Content Management systems like Oracle’s offer powerful capabilities to manage all your digital assets for use in different marketing channels, including websites, marketing materials, email campaigns, online stores, paid search, and blogs. It provides a centralized content hub for all your assets, where you can organize them into repositories and collections and create rules and workflow to define how the content can be used and where.

Creating asset types to define what information you need to collect when users create assets is critical to any CMS. Digital asset types will define the custom attributes required for your digital assets (files, images, and videos).

Manage content in the cloud

As with ours, it is critical to move your content management to the cloud, centralizing your content all in one place and making it accessible anywhere.

You can group your files in folders to perform everyday file management operations, including copy, move, delete, in much the same way as on your local system and architecture. Since all the content files reside in the cloud, users will access them wherever they go, including mobile devices.

Content collaboration

With all your organizations’ content in the cloud, it will be easy to share assets or folders to collaborate with others both inside and outside your organization. Everyone you share content with will have access to the latest information—wherever they are, whenever they need it. Sharing and recording content coloration will enable the user to monitor how and when each shared item was accessed.

Build websites

With content management solutions, you can rapidly build and publish marketing, help, and community websites—from concept to launch—with engaging online experiences. The website building process is completely integrated across content, collaboration, and design are via a single authoring and publishing environment.

Cloud-based solutions make it easy to get started quickly by using out-of-the-box templates, drag-and-drop components (WYSIWYG), sample page layouts, and site themes to assemble a website from predefined building blocks. Or your developers can create custom designs, including templates, themes, or components to create unique online experiences.

What to consider before evaluating if a CMS is right for your business

A CMS makes content more findable by addressing six key areas in content management.

Content governance

Are there enforced policies and procedures in place for creating and managing content?

Information architecture for tagging

Is current and new content categorized and tagged in a way that everyone understands?

Business process for content management

Are workflows standardized and automated?

User experience for content

How are key stakeholders—from employees to customers—finding the information they need?

Technology and applications

Is the existing technology being used properly? What improvements or new systems would streamline information flow with optimal security? Do you have a cloud-based content management system?

Business value of a CMS

Can your data and content be managed more efficiently and securely? Are applicable regulatory guidelines being adhered to?

Using a content management system for your website

A content management system helps you create, manage, and publish content on the web. It also helps keep content organized and accessible so it can be used and repurposed effectively. There are various kinds of content management systems available—from cloud-based to a headless CMS—to meet every audience need.

Not only does it give you a way to store and manage all your information in a single, easily accessible database, but it also does the following:

  • Supports inner- and cross-team collaboration
  • Provides an easy and accessible way to update content
  • Increases content visibility
  • Improves productivity
  • Reduces costs
  • Enables you to maintain content consistency
  • Scales as your needs grow
How to use a CMS to build a website

How does a CMS help to build websites?

Basically, a CMS platform takes care of all the technical details around building and managing a website. For example, to post content on the web, such as a blog post, you need to start with an HTML file. HTML allows you to structure your written content so that a web browser can read it. It also allows you to embed images and videos into your content and link to other HTML documents.

Once the content is created and structured, you can change the look and feel of it by using cascading style sheets (CSS). With CSS, you can change the font, color, and size of every element on your page to achieve the desired styling. Once completed, you upload the HTML and CSS files—along with any image and video files—to a web server where your new website is accessible to anyone.

While this process may not seem terribly difficult, it’s not a very efficient way to create documents and share them online. And most organizations don’t have the IT resources to devote to this task.

Advanced CMS technologies

HTML and CSS are OK for creating simple, readable documents, but they are limited when building websites that offer extensive capabilities and functionality—the kind of modern website most companies need to be successful.

For example, to add interactive features and more nuanced functionality to your website, you need to use JavaScript—the programming language of the web. HTML and CSS are relatively straightforward codebases used to create simple documents. JavaScript is a dedicated programming language not dissimilar from the languages used to develop smartphone or desktop applications.

Suppose you plan to migrate your blog site into a media website that serves thousands of visitors per month and posts several pieces of content per day. In that case, you need to start incorporating database technologies to house and access all your content. You need a database with its own programming language as well as another programming language to pass information between the database and the part of the website that users access and navigate. Just like that, things got complicated rather quickly. And that's where a CMS comes in.

Content management system (CMS) benefits

Explore Oracle Content Management
Explore Oracle Content Management

The demand for digital marketing experiences is growing, and shows no signs of letting up. Today’s modern consumers are demanding omnichannel solutions and frictionless experiences. Digital technology provides endless ways for companies to engage with their customers and stay connected. So it’s no wonder that CMS market is expected to grow from $36 billion in 2018 to $123.5 billion by 2026.

Companies recognize how a content management system can help them leverage the full value of their content by streamlining the content creation and distribution process. Marketing and sales teams who invest in a CMS can expect to gain four key benefits as they work to get their message into the market and improve customer experiences.


Stronger collaboration and organization

With a CMS, multiple content marketing team members can contribute and help publish content. With its workflow management, content storage, and scheduling capabilities, the system helps them keep everything organized. Browser-based CMSs can be accessed from anywhere, and teammates in different locations can collaborate on content projects in the same system and on the most current version. Team members can all access the same content since it’s stored in the same place. There’s no need to send multiple files to multiple people—and no headaches from trying to control multiple versions.


User friendly

With a CMS, users don’t have to learn HTML or CSS. No matter their skill level, users across the organization can create and publish content. A content management system makes it easy to upload content onto web pages and update it through a content editor.


SEO and content optimization tools and plug-ins

Want to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) and drive traffic to your site? With a CMS, you can add plug-ins and tools to increase your search ranking. These tools can include options within the front-end interface to add web page titles, meta descriptions, and alt tags.


More time to spend on content

With a straightforward CMS system, better organization, and tools and plug-ins to help SEO, Content creators can concentrate on producing quality content. Marketing teams don't have to work with multiple files or code. They can share their work with colleagues easily, even if those colleagues are miles away. They have time to refine copy, tweak imagery, produce more video content, or conduct A/B testing on different subject lines, offers, CTAs, and formats.

Learn more about content management solutions for CX

Why Oracle for content management

Oracle Content Management manages digital assets and structured content to build digital experiences on any channel or touchpoint. With a centralized asset repository at its core, content as a service (CaaS) APIs, and a react site builder, and a drag-and-drop WYSIWYG site editor, you can quickly create the right experiences for any target audience.