Key Features in a CMS

A good content management system (CMS) helps individuals, businesses and organizations to create, manage and maintain websites that meet the standards of today’s dynamic Internet environment. Search engines are looking for high-quality content that meets users’ needs, while users expect sites to be fresh, relevant and up-to-date. Features differ from service to service, but there are several key components that a CMS should have in order to deliver a smooth user experience on both ends.

The key CMS features

Easy Content Creation

Content management systems make it easy for users of all skill levels to create and publish website content. Content creation should require little or no knowledge of code. At the same time, the system should offer full functionality for all aspects of page editing, design and management. Whether it’s an individual user just starting out with website creation or a seasoned pro in a business IT department, whoever uses the CMS should be able to log in, generate fresh content and publish it without a problem.


In order to make content creation as simple as possible, a CMS should include an option for “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) editing. WYSIWYG editing allows users to visualize content as it’s created and should include tools for changing text color, size and orientation; adding markup to headings, bulleted lists and links; and managing placement of images. However, there should also be a limit as to how much control the editor gives a user. Page appearance need to be kept consistent in order for a site to appear cohesive.

Media support is another thing to look for in a basic editor. Content-rich sites often include images, videos and other media that need to be imported from a computer or an outside website. Anyone creating and editing content should be able to incorporate media using the editor and add important markup such as ALT tags and descriptions. Tools to edit images make it even easier to tweak the appearance of a page. WYSIWYG editors not only need to deliver a simple interface for content creation; they also need to be powerful enough to allow users to manipulate each item on a page to make it the best it can be.

Multiple User Access

Instead of relegating responsibility for content creation to a small group in the IT department, a CMS allows users from all areas of a business or organization to contribute to a website. This widespread access requires careful control over who can edit what. Site administrators need to be able to limit access to certain pages or even entire sections of a site depending on how extensive the network of contributors is.

Individual user accounts and passwords make it easy to grant different levels of access. Even with careful monitoring, though, it’s possible for something to slip through the cracks. That’s why CMS tools should include the option for administrators to approve content before it goes live. Multiple users means a lot of content being created, so the option to monitor and manage new content is invaluable, especially to businesses.


From themes to plugins, a quality CMS offers users the ability to fully customize the appearance of a website. It should be possible to manage design and content as separate entities so that each individual contributor isn’t stuck trying to make his or her content consistent with the rest of the site. Templates offer a basis for this consistency, but it’s essential to be able to edit different parts of the template if need be. There should be a way to tweak everything from page and font colors to menu styles from one central control panel. This way, site administrators can create just the right look and implement it across the entire site. The more flexibility a CMS has, the better it can serve a business or individual looking to build an attractive, high-quality website.


User interaction is especially important for businesses looking for customer feedback. Tools for commenting, running a forum and allowing site visitors to rate content should be standard in a CMS. Businesses can use these tools to better understand how customers view their products and services. Communicating with and managing customers are two of the most important things a business owner can do. Having a CMS that supports this by allowing for custom forms that collect information makes it easier to keep on top of customer relations.

Social sharing is another big aspect of user interaction within a CMS. Plugins for social functionality are essential in today’s highly interactive Internet environment. Plugins can provide users with a way to share content via Facebook and Twitter, distribute images on Pinterest and bookmark articles on social sharing sites such as StumbleUpon.

By offering easy content creation and publication, user-friendly editing tools and an interactive environment, a CMS takes the basic idea of website building to a whole new level. Businesses, organizations and individuals can all use powerful CMS tools to carve out a web presence that meets user expectations and can compete in the ever-changing landscape of the Internet.

Written 2012-10-22 (Updated 2016-10-10)
david for reviews7

Written by David Walsh

David Walsh is the editor in chief here at Web Hosting Search. Having been in the industry for many years now he knows pretty much everything about everything. At least that's what he keeps telling everyone at the office. So, don't hesitate to drop him a line  if you've got a question - david(a)

Share your thoughts

Show all related articles..

Best Value Hosting 2016

Why wait? Get today's best deals now!