Types of content management systems (CMS)

Types of content management systems (CMS)

Organizations today need to handle huge volumes of content across multiple platforms and mediums – sometimes as many as thousand topics per day. With content-driven experiences becoming increasingly popular, it is more important than ever to efficiently and effectively manage it all consistently across channels. That is where a robust CMS comes in, serving as a one-stop solution for content teams to seamlessly author, collaborate, review, translate, publish, and more.


What is a CMS?

A CMS is a software or application that helps users create, edit, collaborate, publish, and track content with little to no coding knowledge required. It is designed to make handling and modifying large amounts of content by multiple people easier through workflows that hide complex tasks under a more friendly graphical user interface (GUI). Indexing, search and retrieval, format management, revision control, and management are core functions present in almost all popular CMSs.


Types of content management systems

Understanding the different types of CMS available is the first step to figuring out what will be most suited to meet the needs of the organization. While the term has blurred over time to refer to many kinds of platforms, most systems will fall under the following types:


Types of content management systems (CMS)

Web content management system (WCM or WCMS)

A WCMS is a software content management system specifically for web content. Some salient features are:

  • It simplifies website authoring, collaboration, and administration through tools that help users with little knowledge of web programming or markup languages create and manage website content
  • The platform enables collaboration, providing users the ability to manage documents and output for editing and participation by multiple people.
  • A content repository or a database is used to store page content, metadata, and other information assets the system needs
  • The web content management system often uses server-side caching to improve performance when content is not changed often but visits happen frequently
  • Administration is typically done through a browser-based interface

Enterprise content management system (ECM)

An ECM system extends the concept of content management by adding a timeline for each content item and enforcing processes for its creation, approval, and distribution. An ECM usually features:

  • A secure repository for managed items, analog or digital
  • One (or more) methods for importing and managing new items, and several presentation methods to make items available for use
  • Digital rights management (DRM) capabilities for content
  • Customizable content management workflows based on the processes and procedures of the enterprise for which it is created

Digital asset management (DAM)

A DAM is a repository that facilitates the creation, management, organization, production, and distribution of digital assets. While the term digital asset was traditionally used to refer to media files (audio recordings, photos, and videos) it has expanded to encompass a variety of digital formats (fonts, logos, documents etc.). A good DAM:

  • Makes assets easily available to users by providing a searchable index that supports retrieval of assets by their content and/or metadata. The cataloging function is usually part of the ingestion process for new assets
  • Manages digital assets through the entire lifecycle, which may include various states such as creation, approval, live, archived, and deletion
  • Also serves as a version control system that will store earlier versions of a digital asset and allow those to be downloaded or reverted

Electronic document management system (DMS or EDM)

An EDM system is used to receive, track, manage and store documents. Early systems were developed to deal with paper documents, which included not only printed and published documents, but also photographs, prints, etc. This then evolved to manage electronic documents. Today, most EDM systems:

  • Can manage any type of file format and encompass electronic documents, collaboration tools, security, workflow, and auditing capabilities
  • Store documents in their native file format (Microsoft Word or Excel, PDF)
  • Have the ability store content in the form of HTML, allowing the software to act like a search engine so users can find what they are looking for faster

Component content management system (CCMS)

A CCMS manages content at a granular level (component) rather than at the document level. A typical CCMS features the following:

  • Each component represents a single topic, concept, or asset (for example an image, table, product description, a procedure). Components can be as large as a chapter or as small as a definition or even a word
  • Components in multiple content assemblies (content types) can be viewed as components or as traditional documents
  • A CCMS tracks not only versions of topics and graphics but relationships among topics, graphics, maps, publications, and deliverables
  • It facilitates the export of assets by integrating a multiformat publishing engine
  • Benefits of a CCMS include greater consistency and accuracy, reduced maintenance, translation and delivery costs, and better traceability

See how your organization can benefit from Explore Adobe’s enterprise-class CCMS

XML Documentation for Adobe Experience Manager is a CCMS built for technical documentation, IT and marketing teams. Scale content creation minimize content management risks and deliver omnichannel experiences for product documentation, policies and procedures, and long-form marketing content.


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