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What Is A Website CMS? | Everything You Need To Know

February 02, 2024
Written and researched by experts at AvadaLearn more about our methodology

By Sam Nguyen

CEO Avada Commerce

This article will unravel what is a website CMS, the core features, diverse types, and myriad benefits of CMS, providing a comprehensive guide for both beginners and enthusiasts.

What Is A Website CMS (Content Management System)?

A Content Management System (CMS) is a software application that facilitates the creation, management, and modification of digital content on a website without requiring extensive coding knowledge. 

What Is A Website CMS - Content Management System

With a Content Management System (CMS) user-friendly interface, you can customize your site’s design and functionality by downloading or purchasing templates and extensions. Additionally, a CMS supports multiple users working simultaneously in the back-end, enhancing collaboration and efficiency.

How Does A CMS Work In Website Development?

To give you an idea of how a content management system works, you’ll first need to understand what it’s like to build a site from scratch.

First, you use HTML to create basic elements like text, images, and navigation bars. Next, you apply CSS to style these elements according to your brand’s appearance. Then, you add JavaScript for advanced features, like interactive CTAs. After creating the site, you upload it to a server, where it’s stored in a database.

When updating your site, you need to download and manually edit the HTML files, ensuring nothing is broken before re-uploading them to the server. This process can be quite complex.

That’s where CMS comes to the rescue. Here’s a basic breakdown of how it works:

  • User-Friendly Interface: A CMS provides an intuitive and user-friendly interface, where you can log in and manage your website’s content. 
  • Content Creation and Editing: You can create and edit content like text, images, and videos. The CMS often includes text editors similar to Microsoft Word, making it easy to format content.
  • Templates and Design: Most CMS platforms come with pre-designed customizable templates, which you can use to set the look and feel of your website. You can usually change them without altering the content.
  • Content Storage: All content you create is stored in a database, making it easy to retrieve, modify, and manage. CMS separates content from design, so changes in design do not directly affect the content.
  • Publishing Tools: The CMS offers tools to publish and schedule content. You can manage who can view or edit content, and retract content if necessary.
  • Extension and Plugins: Many CMSs offer extensions or plugins that add extra functionality, like SEO tools, social media integration, or e-commerce features.
  • Maintenance and Updates: The CMS handles maintenance tasks like backups, security updates, and compatibility checks to ensure your website runs smoothly.

In summary, a CMS takes care of the technical aspects of running a website, like coding and database management, allowing users to focus on content creation and design.

CMS vs. Website Builder 

A CMS and a website builder serve slightly different purposes and offer different levels of customization and control.

AspectCMS (Content Management System)Website Builder
DifficultyVaries, but harder for beginnersGenerally easy
Setup TimeTypically longer as it involves installation, configuration, and customization.Quick and straightforward, often ready to use out of the box.
CostsMore expensive as it involves hosting, domain, and potential premium themes/plugins.Generally cheaper, with subscription plans covering hosting and basic features.
FeaturesHighly customizable with extensive features, plugins, and themes available.Depends on the platform and subscription plans; may have app marketplaces.
CustomizationFlexible and allows deep customization through templates, plugins, and even touching the codeLimited customization, often relies on drag-and-drop interfaces.Some platforms offer higher-level customization by editing the code.
Design TemplatesThousands of themes are available for various styles and industries.Fewer templates, but often designed with simplicity and aesthetics.
Platform MigrationPossible, but may require technical expertise and can be complex.Tied to the specific platform.
ScalabilityHighly scalableScalable but depends on the platform’s subscription plans
Best forThose with specific design and functionality requirements.Businesses or projects with long-term scalability goals.Users with some technical knowledge looking for extensive customization.Beginners or those who need a simple website quickly.Small to medium-sized projects with straightforward needs. Users prioritize ease of use and lower initial costs.

5 Well-known CMS Examples

CMS in Ecommerce


You might be wondering: Is Shopify a CMS? The answer is both yes, and no. 

Shopify can manage a lot of content – similar to a CMS – but it isn’t optimized for handling all of the content requirements modern merchants need. For example, you can add product descriptions and simple blogs. However, more dynamic content would require a more robust CMS.

Shopify’s CMS allows users to easily update their website, even without advanced tech skills. It provides various templates for customizing the store’s look and layout. Users can continually update content such as blogs, photos, and product descriptions.

CMS Examples Shopify

Price: From USD 39/month to USD 399/month

Key Features of Shopify CMS:

  • User-friendly CMS admin interface
  • Over 150 customizable templates
  • CMS products management for adding, editing, and organizing products, including setting prices, uploading product images, and managing inventory
  • A built-in blogging platform with robust SEO tools
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Detailed analytics and reporting features
  • Numerous app integrations for extending the functionality of the blog and the online store
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Interactive real-time statistics panel

Who Should Use Shopify CMS?

  • All sizes of businesses who want to quickly set up and manage their online stores
  • Any business primarily focused on e-commerce 
  • Content creators and bloggers who want to drive traffic to their websites and engage with their audience
  • Businesses that operate seasonally or intend to run short-term online stores


Wix is a popular web development platform that enables users to create, manage, and publish digital content on websites without needing advanced technical skills. 

CMS Examples Wix

Price: From USD 16/month to custom price.

Key Features of Wix CMS:

  • Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI): Simplifies website creation for beginners by building personalized websites through a series of simple questions.
  • Wix Editor: Offers an intuitive drag-and-drop interface for detailed control over website design, akin to using a program like Microsoft Word to create, edit and manage content.
  • Mobile Optimization: Ensures that websites are fully responsive, providing a seamless experience on both desktop and mobile devices.
  • Built-in SEO Tools: Includes a suite of SEO tools to enhance website visibility in search engines, with features like customizable meta tags and URLs.
  • E-commerce Capabilities: Provides tools for creating and managing online stores, including payment processing, inventory management, and more.
  • Blogging Tools: Comprehensive blogging features allow for the creation and management of blogs, complete with social sharing, comments, and categorization options.
  • Multilingual Support: The Wix Multilingual app supports over 180 languages, enabling the creation of multilingual websites.
  • App Market: A vast range of apps and third-party integrations are available for additional functionalities like social media integration, contact forms, email marketing, and more.

Ideal for:

  • Individuals and businesses seeking a user-friendly website creation platform
  • Individuals starting a new venture or offering freelance services
  • Artists, photographers, musicians, and designers who want to display their portfolios, share their work, knowledge, and experiences
  • Bloggers
  • Non-profit organizations

Open-source CMS


WordPress, initially designed for blogging, has evolved into a multifaceted CMS capable of catering to diverse website needs. With a user-friendly interface, it provides a one-stop solution for users across industries and technical competencies, making it an adaptable choice for blogs, information sites, or online stores.

CMS Examples WordPress

Price: Free. 

Additional costs may include domain name registration, web hosting, pre-made themes, plugins, security, and developer fees.

WordPress CMS’s Features:

  • Multisite Integration: WordPress is versatile, supporting various website types such as blogs, e-commerce sites, and corporate pages. Its plugins enhance the ability to display diverse content types.
  • Self-Hosting Options: Users have the freedom to choose their hosting provider, offering more control over data and making server transfers easier.
  • Comprehensive User Management: It features different user roles like Administrators, Authors, and Editors, each with specific access levels. Assigning roles and customizing permissions is straightforward, enhancing site security and management.
  • Advanced Media Management: The platform allows for easy storage and embedding of media. Its drag-and-drop uploader facilitates quick image uploads, complete with features like alt text.
  • Extensive Plugin Library: With over 50,000 plugins, WordPress provides additional functionalities, including widgets, social media tools, and SEO optimization features.
  • Customizable Themes: The Theme Customizer allows for easy and detailed theme adjustments without needing extensive coding, ensuring the site maintains a professional look.
  • SEO Optimization: WordPress is designed to be SEO-friendly, with features like SEO-friendly permalinks and headings. It also supports advanced SEO plugins like Yoast for improved keyword optimization and higher search engine rankings.

Who should use WordPress:

  • Bloggers and writers looking to create personal or professional blogs.
  • Small to medium-sized businesses who want to create a professional online presence with minimal cost.
  • Businesses wanting to set up an ecommerce store
  • Non-profits needing to establish an online presence without a large budget
  • Artists, photographers, musicians, and other creatives can use WordPress to showcase their portfolios, reach a broader audience, and share their knowledge via blogs


Drupal, a highly customizable CMS, distinguishes itself with a unique approach. Unlike out-of-the-box solutions, Drupal requires initial setup, making it more suitable for those with coding knowledge or developers. Its open-source structure allows for tailored configurations, adding features as needed. While setup might be daunting, it offers a clean, straightforward user experience.

CMS Examples Drupal

Price: Free. Additional costs may include modules, plugins, themes, hosting, and web development.

Drupal CMS Features:

  • User-Friendly Editing and Authoring: Drupal provides an intuitive backend interface that simplifies content editing. It also offers advanced customizable options for comments.
  • Strong Security Measures: With a focus on security, Drupal offers tight controls and regular updates, making it less prone to hacking compared to other CMS platforms.
  • High Reliability and Uptime: Drupal’s long-standing history and strong community support contribute to its reliability. It is known for minimal crashes, prompt bug fixes, and consistent uptime.
  • Drag and Drop Content Creation: The platform includes a drag-and-drop interface, making content creation and page building straightforward and visual.
  • Device Optimization: Drupal automatically optimizes content for both desktop and mobile devices, helping maintain good Google search rankings across different devices.
  • Versatile and Customizable: Drupal is designed to cater to a wide range of website types, acting as a flexible foundation for extensive customization.
  • Extensive Range of Modules: With over 16,000 additional modules, Drupal allows users to enhance their website with features like SEO, social media integration, and improved security.

Ideal for:

  • Large businesses and corporations with complex website needs.
  • Government websites
  • Universities and schools
  • Media sites and publishers who handle a high volume of content.
  • Organizations that need to provide content in multiple languages.


Joomla, a robust and versatile Content Management System (CMS), empowers users to create, manage, and enhance their websites. Positioned as a middle ground between the simplicity of WordPress and the complexity of Drupal, Joomla offers a user-friendly experience with advanced customization capabilities.

CMS Examples Joomla

Price: From $99 for personal and from $399 for agency

Joomla CMS Features:

  • User-Friendly Interface: Joomla offers an intuitive dashboard for easy navigation and content management, making it accessible for beginners with a straightforward setup.
  • Extensive Extensions: A key strength of Joomla is its wide range of extensions, including templates, modules, plugins, and components that enhance website capabilities.
  • Multilingual Support: It comes with built-in features for creating content in multiple languages, making it suitable for websites serving a global audience.
  • Advanced Customization: Joomla allows for the creation of custom templates and styles for unique website designs, along with template overrides for detailed control over content appearance.
  • Access Control Levels: The platform provides granular control over user permissions and access, ideal for sites with multiple contributors or various types of content managers.
  • SEO-Friendly: Joomla includes built-in SEO tools to help optimize content for search engines, including the creation of search engine-friendly URLs.
  • Responsive Design: The templates in Joomla are responsive, ensuring websites are easily accessible and user-friendly on all devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Who should use:

  • Individuals, businesses, and organizations seeking a balance between simplicity and flexibility. Users who want more than basic functionality without delving into the complexities of advanced coding.
  • Schools, universities, and non-profit organizations require a versatile website.
  • Government and community websites that need to manage different user roles and permissions.
  • Bloggers and content creators

Successful CMS Website Examples For Your Inspiration

1. Burkes Cycles (built with Shopify):

Burkes Cycles, one of New Zealand’s largest online cycle stores, underwent a transformative website upgrade using Shopify’s Online Store 2.0. 

Successful CMS Website Examples

The CMS’s flexibility extended to content and product information, allowing for a highly customizable and rich user experience. The Burkes Cycles website exemplifies the potential of Shopify Online Store 2.0 in creating visually appealing, content-rich, and functionally dynamic online stores.

2. FashionFusion (built with Wix):

FashionFusion, a rapidly growing fashion and apparel company, successfully tackled the challenges of limited technical expertise, user experience, product showcase, and customization using Wix. Opting for Wix’s user-friendly interface and extensive customization options, FashionFusion created a dynamic e-commerce platform that resonated with its brand identity. 

Successful CMS Website Examples

3. Bloomberg (built with WordPress):

Bloomberg, a global leader in providing financial information and insights, relies on WordPress to power its Professional Services websites. WordPress enables Bloomberg to showcase its professional insights and expertise in the finance sector. 

Successful CMS Website Examples

The platform’s flexibility and ease of use contribute to Bloomberg’s mission of empowering individuals who aim to make a positive impact on the world. The case of Bloomberg highlights WordPress’s suitability for delivering content-rich and reliable websites for industry leaders.

4. Tesla (built with Drupal):

Tesla, synonymous with innovation in the automotive and energy sectors, selected Drupal to meet its web presence requirements. The challenge was to find a scalable and secure platform capable of handling high-traffic and rich media files. Drupal’s robust architecture and advanced media handling capabilities proved instrumental. 

Successful CMS Website Examples

The implementation enhanced Tesla’s user experience, simplified content management, and ensured optimal website performance. The case study underscores Drupal’s ability to cater to complex content needs and handle high traffic volumes, making it an ideal choice for companies, especially those in cutting-edge industries like electric vehicles and renewable energy.

5. Fuel Quest (Joomla):

Fuel Quest, based in Houston, Texas, relies on Joomla for its on-demand fuel management and tax automation solutions. The company delivers significant savings and reliability by integrating all major suppliers and ensuring compliance with regulations. Joomla provides Fuel Quest with a platform that integrates all aspects of fuel management while complying with the rules of the United States. 

Successful CMS Website Examples

The CMS supports Fuel Quest’s mission of offering outsourced fuel management services, showcasing the ability of Joomla to provide world-class support and total customer satisfaction. This example illustrates how Joomla caters to the specific needs of companies in the energy and commodity sector, offering efficient solutions for content management and digital presence.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, a Website CMS, or Content Management System, is the backbone of a dynamic and efficient online presence. It empowers users to create, manage, and optimize digital content seamlessly, regardless of technical expertise. Whether simplifying content updates or enabling complex customizations, a well-chosen CMS is key to unlocking the full potential of a modern, impactful web presence. You can consider choosing a CMS like Shopify, Wix, WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla for your business

Sam Nguyen is the CEO and founder of Avada Commerce, an e-commerce solution provider headquartered in Singapore. He is an expert on the Shopify e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Sam loves talking about e-commerce and he aims to help over a million online businesses grow and thrive.