If anything, our increasingly voracious daily appetite for digital content proves one thing, echoing the sentiment expressed in Bill Gates’ 1996 essay: “content is king.” Not only are we ingesting more content, but we are also devouring increasingly varied, higher quality content: not satisfied with just words and an occasional photo, we have become accustomed to websites with graphics, photos, video, maps, audio, as well as a certain amount of user interaction. As the content we view has become increasingly complex and diverse, there needed to be a way to create and manage all the individual component files without having to reconfigure an entire website. The solution is today’s term: content management system.
A content management system (CMS) is a specific type of software used to collaboratively manage the creation and modification of content. In many ways, a content management system is akin to a ledger in accounting, but instead of strictly dealing with financial transactions, we are dealing with the creation, usage, and lifecycle of digital information. Applying this to everyday usage, CMS allows a user to add, edit or remove content via a content management application, then those changes (through a content delivery application) are updated to the website – all without the potential bottleneck of a webmaster.
Unsurprisingly, the concept of CMS is as old as the Internet itself, being (along with servers and web clients) a product of Tim Berners-Lee in 1990; yet, the term itself took another 5 years to appear in a Usenet Newsgroup (Req. #100, US-DC-Development DBA Manager in biz.jobs.offered) on November 6, 1995: “Duties and Responsibilities: Perform database design activities in support of the Content Provider Management System (CPMS), Content Management System (CMS), and Marketing Campaign Manager (MCM).”
Still, to better understand our term, it is important to look at its components. Building from the ground up, we’re dealing with a system, which comes from the Late Latin systema and a stem of the Greek synistanai, meaning ‘to arrange, organize, or form in order’, and was first used in the sense of applied computing in March of 1956, when the Railroad Workers Journal boasted that: “The new system,..will be installed before the end of 1956… The device will be able to handle the most complicated combinations of reserved coach, roomette, drawing room and compartment space.” The management of this system, coming from the Italian maneggiare, meaning ‘to handle’, can, in the sense of controlling the resources of an entity, be traced back to Linus Brockett’s 1867 book, Woman’s Work in the Civil War, where he notes that: “The office management [was] at first entrusted to that devoted and faithful worker in the Sanitary cause, Mrs. Eliza Porter.” Finally, there is the content managed within the system, which comes from the Latin continere, meaning ‘to hold together’, which was initially used, in a general sense, in Bridgettine monk William Bonde’s 1526 contemplative work Pilgrimage of Perfection: “All this world with the contents in the same.”, but can be taken in this application to mean an entire body of work or, if you prefer, a collection of things.
While content may be king and you may have high quality content, a good CMS will help you get the most benefits out of it. Looking at one of the most flexible content management systems, TYPO3, as an example, a good CMS should:
# be (preferably) free and open source,
# be diverse, scalable, and compatible with other modules,
# have a vibrant, active community (to assist and support your needs),
# be secure, compliant, and regularly updated,
# have flexibility to meet your needs, either frontend for your website or backend for administrative purposes, and
# have built-in abilities to support multilingual content and translation workflows integrations.
If you have questions on creating, organising, managing and translating multilingual content in Typo3, WordPress or another CMS, contact our experts today. They can consult you on designing scalable translation workflows and solutions that fit the needs of your business.