A content management system, often abbreviated as CMS, is a software tool that helps you build a website without needing to write all the code from scratch (or even know how to code at all). Users can create, manage, and modify content on a website, whether it be a static site, eCommerce site, or a simple blog. Instead of building your own system for creating web pages, storing images, and other functions, the content management system handles all that basic infrastructure so that you can focus on the public-facing parts of your website.
Other popular content management systems out there also provide good functionality, but not all are open source, and therefore, free. Whether a CMS costs or not should not be a critical motivator when making a selection, as sometimes they can service all of a site's needs and provide excellent security at the same time. It's a matter of exploring, reviewing, and testing out the right tool for the job. Here at UC Santa Barbara, there are some really good content management systems packaged with style frameworks that meet many department's needs.
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