If you're an entrepreneur or a developer, chances are you'll work with a content management systems (CMS) at some point. And knowing how to analyze the many features of the CMS options out there is important when choosing the right one for your use case.

In this article, I'll explain why CMSs exist, the problems they help solve, and I'll also offer helpful guidance in choosing the right CMS for your needs.

What is a CMS?

You can think of a CMS as an extremely user-friendly database for your website’s content.

A CMS provides an intuitive interface that allows website owners and content creators to manage a website's content without requiring advanced technical skills.

As an example, think about it from the perspective of someone who wants to own a blog, but doesn’t know anything about web development. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for this person to modify the source code of the web site in order to add a new article to the blog.

This is where a CMS comes in. The CMS is linked to the owner’s website, and the site has built in code that pulls data from the CMS and automatically publishes this data on the site. In this example, the data could be a new blog article and image.

Headless CMS vs Traditional CMS

You may have heard the term “headless CMS” floating around, and wondered what that was all about. Nowadays, CMSs come in two flavors; a traditional CMS, and a headless CMS. Let’s take a look at a few definitions to get a better grasp of each:

What is a Traditional CMS?

A traditional CMS is a complete website management system that not only stores your content in a user-friendly database, but also offers a front end, usually a WYSIWYG style editor to build out your actual web page.

The front-end UI designer and backend storage system are unified in one intuitive interface. Wordpress is a famous example of a traditional CMS.

What is a Headless CMS?

A headless CMS is similar to the traditional CMS, but without the front-end WYSIWYG editor to build your site. If you think of your actual webpage as the “head”, and your content as the “body”, then this starts to make sense.

A headless CMS is totally independent of your site’s design, and you can typically use any framework of choice and connect it to the headless CMS. The headless CMS acts similar to a backend database, but is tailor-made for handling typically used website content like images and rich text.

When Do I Need a CMS?

Before concerning yourself with choosing the right CMS for your needs, it is essential to understand whether you actually need one. CMSs are designed to streamline the process of creating, editing, and managing digital content, primarily for websites.

If you’re wondering whether you should consider a CMS, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does the website require frequent content updates, such as articles or product listings?
  2. Will there be multiple content authors collaborating on the website's content?
  3. Does the website require flexible content structuring and organization to accommodate future changes?

If you answered yes to one of these questions, there’s a good chance that your project would benefit from the features offered by a good CMS.

CMS Integration and Compatibility

It’s important to consider ease of integration with your chosen system or framework. You may be considering adding some functionality to your site such as an e-commerce system or customer relationship management (CRM) software. Or you may just be starting a new project from scratch.

Either way, it is crucial to ensure that the CMS you select can seamlessly integrate with these systems.

Most frameworks, such as Next.js, Gatsby or Astro, will offer a list of official CMS plugins that streamline the process of integration. Of course, a CMS can be added to any project without an official plugin by utilizing the API from your CMS of choice, and coding everything manually.

But it’s usually wise to look for a CMS that is supported by your framework, as it takes much of the heavy lifting out of the equation and allows you to focus on other pressing concerns.  

For example my blog has a list of the best CMS for Next.js to choose from. Most frameworks have a number of CMSs that are compatible and created by 3rd party developers.

When searching for a CMS with seamless integration and compatibility, look to your framework’s official docs for guidance, which should tell you what public libraries are available.

CMS Features to Consider

When evaluating CMS options, do some research and testing rather than going for the first option that pops up. While the specific requirements may vary depending on your project, here are some fundamental features to look for:

  1. User-Friendliness: The CMS should have an intuitive and user-friendly interface, enabling non-technical users to manage and update content easily.
  2. Content Organization: Effective content organization is crucial for a CMS. Look for features such as categorization, tagging, and metadata management to ensure your content is easily searchable and conveniently organized.
  3. SEO Optimization: Ensure the CMS supports essential SEO features, such as image optimization, full-featured rich text editors, and friendly URLs.

Common CMS Pitfalls

There are a few potential pitfalls you should consider, because utilizing a CMS doesn’t always live up to expectations. Here are a few common challenges:

  1. Overwhelming Complexity: This may seem oxymoronic, considering my earlier statement that CMSs are supposed to simplify things. But everyone is different, and one CMS may not suit your taste as much as the next person. It’s a good idea to create an account and take a look around, maybe even create some content, just to get a feel for whether the CMS is right for you.
  2. Hidden Costs: Many CMSs claim they are free. But almost all of them begin charging when you reach a certain threshold of traffic or storage capacity. It’s important that you do your research, and ensure that you’re considering whether your project will venture into the realm of “paid service” sooner than you expected.
  3. Limited Support and Documentation: When encountering issues or needing assistance, reliable support and comprehensive documentation is paramount. Ensure that the CMS you choose has an active community, official support channels, and extensive documentation or user guides. This support network can be invaluable in troubleshooting problems and learning how to make the most of the CMS's features.


Choosing the right CMS is an important decision that can impact your website's performance, scalability, and ease of management. By understanding the purpose of a CMS and evaluating your specific needs, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your goals.

Ultimately, a CMS should empower you to efficiently create, manage, and update content, allowing you to focus on delivering a compelling user experience. At the end of the day, meaningful content is the goal, and a CMS should be a helpful hand that guides you through the process.

Hope you enjoyed the post. If you want to learn more about CMSs and SEO in general checkout OhMyCrawl.  If you want to follow along with one of my side projects, checkout my latest site Trust In Geeks to follow my journey.