web content management system (WCMS)

Contributor(s): Karolina Kiwak, Geoff Bock, Melanie Luna

A web content management system (WCMS), a utilization of a content management system (CMS), is a set of tools that provides an organization with a way to manage digital information on a website through creating and maintaining content without prior knowledge of web programming or markup languages. Managing web content effectively can have useful business applications in the enterprise, producing insights for decision-making and delivering results, as well as value.


The three key features of any WCMS are as follows:

  1. The ability to design, create and maintain personalized content for a website.
  2. The ability for editors to review and approve content prior to publication.
  3. An automated publishing process.

Additional features that might be included are:

  • Automated, standard templates;
  • Controlled access to the page;
  • Scalable expansion to allow for growth;
  • Tools that allow for easy editing;
  • Easily installed plug-ins to extend existing functionality;
  • Regular software updates;
  • Workflow management;
  • Collaboration tools allowing for multiple users to modify content;
  • Document management;
  • Content distribution and content update emails to users;
  • Ability to display content in various languages; and
  • Allowing editors to retrieve previous versions of content.

Demystifying web content management.

These can be done through using a general open source WCMS such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla to address a variety of needs; or with a specialized CMS geared toward addressing specific needs. Examples of these would include Marketing 360, a marketing platform, Filestack, specializing in file uploads, or CleanPix, focused on rights management.

Pros and cons

There are positives and negatives that come with using a WCMS, ranging from cost to security. WCMSs are typically inexpensive, often being free or offering subscriptions that outweigh overall costs. WCMSs are easy to use, not requiring users to have a technical coding background in order to create or maintain content, and they are easily customizable. The workflow management in a WCMS can also be controlled and personalized by administrators.

On the other hand, larger implementations of a WCMS can get expensive by requiring training and certifications that can be pricey. Maintenance can also be costly, requiring upgrades and licensing updates. Another downside is that larger systems can become slower with time if the hardware is not up-to-date or if cache files grow too large. And finally, security can be a concern, since a WCMS can be overlooked during patching for security threats, leaving it vulnerable to hackers.

See also:  enterprise content management (ECM)content analyticsweb application (web app).

This was last updated in December 2016

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