What Is a Content Management System?

Create, manage, and publish content on a global scale with jContent, the fully integrated cloud-based CMS Watch overview

Have you ever heard the phrase “Content is King?” Well, if you’re a marketer or IT professional, this isn’t just an overused idiom – you are literally servant, maid and serf to the content that your organization produces on a daily basis.

And it’s a lot of content. Literally every piece of your website, from your product sheets to your “About Us” section, is content. Every webpage, every blog article, every hyperlink. All those whitepapers, emails, Christmas cards, and, yes, interoffice dance videos – every bit of it is content.

A bit overwhelming, isn’t it? That’s what CMS – or Content Management Systems – were created for. Namely, to help your organization easily manage all of its digital content. And while this sounds simple enough on the surface , CMS’s come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on your organization’s needs.

Let’s keep it simple, though. Our goal here is to better understand what a CMS is. So let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of CMS, their benefits, and what they do:

A Basic CMS

The original flavor. While every CMS does something different, they still have an overarching identity. We mentioned that they help manage digital content, but what does that look like?

Think back to Christmas Cards. You want to make one for Carol in HR. You decide to do it together with a few co-workers. But you have a few caveats. You want a way for you and your co-workers to access it online, so each of you are able to independently edit the text, change how it looks and feels, or add additional cards for others in the office. You also want to be able to do this in a way that’s simple and similar for each and every one of you.

What you’re describing, in the most basic sense of the word, is a CMS. A system that allows you and others to play with, control, and change around content in an easy and intuitive way. Now let’s look at some different CMS types.


WCM, or Web Content Management, is a CMS specifically focused on web content. As an example, imagine you started a blog. Maybe about dogs. Everyone likes dogs. You want to upload pictures of your own dogs, write funny little quips underneath each one, and link to other cute dogs you’ve found online.

To do that, you’ll need a website. Unless you’re an expert-level coder (in which case, we’re hiring), you’ll also need a tool that can help you publish and edit your posts, organize your pages, store and manage your images, and let you know how many people are reading your blog.

What tool do you need? A basic WCM.

WCMs can vary in complexity. Free ones, especially, are often very simple and easy to use, mostly because they are designed for non-technical users. Good examples of this are blogging websites like WordPress. However, more complicated WCMs are needed when dealing with a multinational conglomerate, and those are rarely free.

With WCM’s, though, discussion is often focused on customer-facing content.. Let’s talk about a CMS  that focuses on internal content.


ECM, or Enterprise Content Management, is a CMS focused around internal business processes. This one, unfortunately, doesn’t lend itself to a cute comparison. So we’ll go with a familiar one instead - you. As a business, you have internal processes. For example, how you take PTO, or manage projects, or maintain internal documents. An ECM is built to manage the content that is tied to all of those things – documentation, workflows, archived data, and so on. Without it, Carol in HR must manually document, update, and manage a lot of this herself, and…well, now you know why she needed her own Christmas card.

This All Sounds Awfully Familiar…

Have you read our articles on digital experience platforms, DXPs, and Customer Data Platforms, CDPs? If not, you really should. Because, believe it or not, DXPs and CDPs are born out of CMS’s. Not in a strictly literal sense – there is much more going on behind the scenes of both of those than just content – but CMS is in their DNA. Without well-managed content, neither could function, let alone produce the results they are capable of.

In Conclusion

We’ve talked about a few examples of CMS here, but there are many more out there, and each one brings different values and benefits to your business. As always, we recommend doing your own research, but know that Jahia keeps plenty of additional resources on this subject as well!

And Jahia’s platform, which includes our jContent CMS, is one of the leading digital experience solutions on the market. Interested in learning more about it or CMS in general? Talk to us!