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The Beginner’s Guide to Content Management Systems

The Beginner’s Guide to Content Management Systems

What is a CMS? It stands for content management system, which offers a flexible, back-end interface for users to edit, modify, and publish content on a website.

How a CMS Works

Websites are built with databases. Think of them as huge, complicated Excel sheets.  However, instead of logging into the servers and trying to make changes one field at a time, groups and individuals have created content management systems to help users communicate easily and efficiently with the database using a secure and easy-to-use interface. Most CMS’s are managed by companies or communities and updated as the web evolves.

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This is an introduction to the types of CMS’s and examples of what each platform can offer — from blogging to eCommerce and everything in between.

Open-Source

These CMS’s are free for all to use, and the public is welcome to contribute to improving the development and functionality of the platform.

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Private

  • Squarespace: With their recent upgrade to version 6, they offer “everything you need to create an exceptional website.”  With beautiful templates, great customer support, unique CMS, and social integration, Squarespace is a good option for graphic designers, photographers, and bloggers.
  • Expression Engine: When it comes to corporate sites, Expression Engine is a popular choice.  It’s known for being flexible for data driven products.
  • LightCMS: This quickly-growing CMS is built by a private company in Oklahoma.  They provide an affiliate program, white-labeling, and fully-customizable templates, making it easy for designers to turn it into their own website solutions.

Blogging:

  • Tumblr: Known as a micro-blogging platform, Tumblr is know for its image. Tumblr can be quite addicting — If you can’t stop watching animated gifs on Tumblr, check out “Managing Your Social Network Addiction.”
  • Blogger: This is Google’s blogging platform.
  • Typepad: According to their website, “Typepad is the reliable, flexible blogging platform that puts the publisher in control. Plus, great one-on-one support from our team of friendly experts.

eCommerce:

  • Magento: Known for their powerful but flexible eCommerce solutions, Magento provides online stores for companies like Nike, Toms, Vizio, and more.  They offer plans for large corporations and small businesses, in addition to having a flexible open-source edition.
  • PrestaShop: his popular, award-winning, open-source eCommerce platform is full of features and add-ons.
  • Shopify: Shopify is a private CMS that offers an App Store for add-ons and themes.  It uses liquid markup, making it easy for designers that understand html/css to quickly build a custom theme.

File-Based: 

This is becoming a common practice for small scale websites. A file-based CMS does not use a database but rather a structure of folders, text documents, and images.  These types of CMS’s are geared toward web designers and artists that are familiar with FTP, HTML, CSS, and MARKDOWN.

  • KirbyCMS: Kirby is a file-based CMS that offers good documentation, markdown syntax, an add-on admin panel, and Dropbox support. “Easy to setup, easy to use, flexible as hell.”
  • Statamic: Statamic is another file-based CMS that prides themselves on a detailed platform for web developers with a simple, client-friendly, and responsive admin panel.

Website Builders

This is more of the cousin of the CMS.  Website builders are great non-designers.  With drag-and-drop and pre-built templates, putting a website up in a few minutes is simple.

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  • Wix: Wix is the most popular web builder option on the web.  With over 26 million websites currently made, Wix offers hundreds of templates, drag-and-drop building, social integration, and app integration.
  • Weebly: Weebly offers websites that are “Free. Powerful. Professional.” It offers most of the same features as Wix and has competitive hosting prices.

Other

I’d like to think of these as the hidden gems or new arrivals on the web.  They haven’t made it “big” yet, but offer a new perspective or alternative features than the big guys. Think of them as indie CMS’s.

  • Anchor: Anchor is a “super-simple, lightweight blog system, made to let you just write.” This open-source project has some cool features, including markdown. Learn how to “Use Markdown For Easy Web Writing”.
  • Perch: Known as “the really little content management system,” Perch uses simple php functions to allow you to quickly make changes to paragraphs, add images, etc.
  • Unify: Instead of using a database, in-line editors use a javascript interface to allow you to make small changes to headings, paragraphs, images, etc.
  • Big Cartel: Their slogan is “Bringing art to the cart.” Big Cartel is “a simple shopping cart for tee designers, bands, record labels, jewelery makers, crafters, and other artists.” This CMS is for small-scale eCommerce with low pricing and Paypal integration.

What is a CMS? The Conclusion

So what is a CMS? As you can tell, it can be explained many ways.  I hope that through this brief guide, you have a better understanding of the various different roles CMS’s can play.

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P.S. What CMS are you using? What CMS did I not share that you think is worth sharing? Let us know in the comments.

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Josh Medeski

Front-End Developer

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Published on September 20, 2018

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

Minimizing Tabs

Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

Incognito Mode

Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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  1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
  2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
  3. Download extension New Incognito Window

This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

Save Webpages as PDF Files

Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

Open Recently-closed Tabs

Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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Solve Mathematical Problems

Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

Play Media Files

Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

Stay Focus(e)d

Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

Grammarly for Editing

Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

Loom

There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

Chrome Calendar Extension

No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

Final Thoughts

Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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