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Content management systems and alternative shopping cart solutions

What is a Content Management System?

A content management system (CMS) is an application that allows you to produce and modify digital content. A CMS provides a great many add-ons in the form of widgets and plugins to alter and extend its functionality.

Widgets are small applications that you can add to your website to extend its functionality without having to go into the code files to make changes. An example of a widget is an image carousel, which allows you to add sliding images with links to the front page of your website. You can also install a Google Analytics widget on a CMS dashboard to place your tracking code, or HTML widgets, to add text or images to areas on your page.

Plugins or add-ons, add a specific feature to your website. There are literally hundreds of available website plugins. Your CMS will come with some pre-installed ones, e.g. promotional feeds, payment methods, shipping rate computation packages, Facebook Connect authentication, and tax providers, etc.

Popular e-Commerce platforms, content management system, CMS
Popular eCommerce platforms

Self-hosted solutions

Self-hosting solutions are more flexible because you can make changes to the code and script files. While self-hosting solutions are cheaper than hosted solutions, you may find it time-consuming to get the support you need for installation, set up, and site administration.

WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress, which means it is easily customizable. Other self-hosting options include Drupal, ZenCart, Joomla, and Magento. (While extremely flexible, Magento is more suitable for medium to large businesses).

Hosted solutions

Shopify and BigCommerce are two of the best eCommerce hosted-solutions. You can sell unlimited products on their website. Although, you won’t have access to the code files, they are easy to install and highly customizable. The minimum subscription for their all-features online store costs around $29.99/£23.00 per month.

Volusion is another hosted-solution with a starting price of around $29.99/£23.00. Volusion is good for selling digital products. You could also try Payhip, which offers a free option, if you have 100 digital products or less to sell.

Tip: Managing and configuring your CMS may be daunting at first and certainly time-consuming. Write a list of all the features on your CMS dashboard and check them off as you complete them.

Important Note: Always update your CMS to the latest version. Do this without delay, or you will experience technical issues, and your website will be open to cyber-attacks.

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