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What is a web Content Management System (CMS)? Well, it does exactly what is says on the tin! It is a system that manages the content of your website. Since that has probably clarified nothing, let's begin by defining what is meant by "content".

The content of a website consists of all the digital information that makes up everything you want to include in your website - excluding all the bits and pieces that make the site work! In the case of photography websites, typical content will be text, images, video clips, graphics, and maybe sound etc. A content management system is basically a website framework in to which all such media can be plugged and managed with relative ease.

The "management" part of the name refers to the ability of the website structure to keep all the various items of content in good order and properly interconnected so that users can navigate conveniently from the home page to any particular content item. To take a simple example, when a new item of content is added, the CMS will make sure that it is filed in the appropriate server folder and provide suitable internal links (URLs) so that the new item can be found via menus and by searching the site (where a site search engine is installed). When an item of content is removed, the links that are no longer required are automatically deleted or changed so that no "dead ends" remain. All the links are validated and everything remains stored in a coherent and orderly manner.

A CMS is therefore a suite of programs which when operating together create a working website without your content. All you have to do is learn where and how to add your various items of content which then appear in the pages of a very professional-looking website. CMSs also offer a vast range of add-ons and extensions that can be used to extend the capability of the basic system. For instance, a photographer might want images displayed in a particular type of image gallery or slide show, and for the images to appear on the web at a certain size. An extension such as this can be added to a basic CMS and loaded with a set of images in a matter of minutes.

There are many CMS systems available, including Drupal, Wordpress and Joomla upon which this website is based. However there are countless other systems which may or may not be appropriate in particular circumstances. Lists of CMSs can be found by searching the web.

Joomla is one of the best known open-source CMSs, which effectively means that the software is free. Thousands of add-ons and extensions are also available free of charge although some have a "commercial" license or version which means that a relatively small payment must be made to the software developer before downloading the relevant extension.

A vast amount of information on the Joomla CMS can be obtained from the Joomla website.


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