Web based content management is a system built to help people update their websites via a web interface. Often a web based content management system allows people who have no knowledge of HTML or other coding languages to update the content of a site, and sometimes also allows them to make minor changes to the layout and structure of the site as well. Web based content management is used widely for enterprise systems, where many people may need to edit the content, and where it makes sense for those people or departments to have direct access to their site, rather than having to work through an intermediary web designer.
Usually the back-end of a web based content management system is built on a database, often stored as XML. This allows bits of content to be used over and over again throughout the site, in the form of smaller modules. This gives the site owners and operators a great deal of leeway in terms of building dynamic pages out of pre-existing bits of content, such as image pools or specific text segments like mission statements, contact information, or articles. Since the content is stored in a database, the user can edit a single instance of the content and have the changes be reflected across the entire site, everywhere that module is referenced.
For many people, the web based content management system is used exclusively for that: content management. Structure and design are set up in advance by a web designer and builder, who also installs the content management system itself. Then, members of the company who have login privileges can edit just the content. This editing usually takes place in a pane within a web browser, and often will include basic formatting options, in much the same way as a word processing program. So a button may exist to make text bold, or differently colored, or to insert hyperlinks. More advanced content management systems may also include options to insert media, such as images, videos, or sound files.
All of this can be done without any knowledge of HTML, which makes it ideal for both small businesses and larger enterprise systems alike. A number of web based content management systems exist out-of-the-box for installation on a server, usually by a web master. Larger companies usually rely on a custom web based content management system, although these custom systems may sometimes be built on a pre-existing framework.
One of the most known uses of web based content management is to run blogs, either for business or personal use. Software like WordPress or Movable Type is a specialized form of content management software, designed to facilitate running a blog. These applications have enormous followings and support structures, which constantly develop plugins and design themes, allowing people to extend their functionality without having any personal programming experience.
Many content management systems also allow for the presentation layer of the site to be edited through the system, as well. This is usually done through the use of templates, which people can download and install easily to change the entire appearance of the site. Often the presentation layer will also include widgets, which can be dragged around through an intuitive interface to move where things are on the page.