As the technology stack continues to grow, it can be difficult to keep up with the acronym soup that it creates. However, CMS and DXP are two acronyms that are worth understanding what they are and how they can support your non-profit organisation.

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

A Content Management System (CMS) is a software application that enables organisations to manage digital content production of a website – without having to code each webpage from scratch.

The purpose of a CMS

Whilst each web page could be written and coded by hand as a separate file, this is impractical as soon as the site has more than one or two pages. Websites need common elements, such as a logo, navigational menus, and headers and footers. Adding these by hand to each separate web page would be laborious and it would quickly become impossible to keep everything consistent. And if you wanted to make a change to one of the common elements, such as adding an extra link to the navigational menu, every page in the whole website would have to be edited.

At its simplest, a CMS provides a way to manage the core content of a web page separately from those common elements. Once all the content has been finalised and is ready to publish, the CMS combines all the components together to make the final webpages.

Key features of a CMS

The first CMS solutions started to appear at the end of the nineties and have grown and evolved ever since. Today a CMS offers a plethora of functionality to help manage websites. Here’s a set of features found in most modern CMS’s:

  • Creating, editing and publishing content
  • Customising the design and navigation
  • Workflows, scheduling and content organisation
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Quality checks and controls
  • User and role-base administration
  • Multilingual capabilities

As well as basic features, today’s CMS solutions will also provide more interactive and advanced functionality. This can include forms, search engine optimisation tools, blogs, ecommerce, forums, portals, CRM and live chat integrations.

What is a Digital Experience Platform (DXP)?

Fundamentally, a DXP should provide all the content management functionality that a CMS can offer and provides additional features that are designed to enhance the experience of the user.

The purpose of a DXP compared to a CMS

The core differential between a CMS and a DXP is that a DXP will deliver a different customised experience to each user based on various inputs. In a recent article we considered how personalisation and segmentation can be used to create a tailored website experience, and a DXP is the one of the key tools that can be used to deliver this.

To use some analogies, if a CMS-powered website is like a magazine in which everyone reading it gets the same content, then a DXP should be more like a conversation in which an exchange of information between the two parties leads to a unique and difference experience each time. In reading this article, you are all reading the same content because this is on a website that has been produced with a CMS. If I were talking to you about DXPs I would be able to start off by finding out how much you already know about the topic, and then I would respond accordingly, and it would be a different conversation each time.

Key features of a DXP

If a DXP is delivering a tailored experience, then it’s clear that something must happen to each webpage to make it different for each user. At the point that the web server delivers the page to the user it must add, delete, or edit content according to the predicted needs of that user to provide a better experience. To do this the DXP needs data.

This need for data means that a DXP needs to be well-connected – in fact a DXP is often a suite of products that work together. Connecting to other systems such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, contact centres and social media allows a rich profile of data to be built about each user which can then be used to support the customised view – whether personalised for that exact user, or grouped to suit a particular segment of users.

Some of the functionality that can be found in a DXP includes:

  • Managing content (i.e. see what a CMS does)
  • Collection of and/or connection to user data via analytics and APIs
  • Use of user data to personalise content in order to improve experiences
  • Ability to analyse user data and place users into segments for tailored content experiences
  • Exploiting Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to identify insights in the data
  • Campaign management and omni-channel capabilities

How to choose between CMS and DXP

If you’re managing a website, it pretty much goes without saying that you’ll at least need a CMS. But do you need to go further and consider a DXP? As the bullet list above demonstrates, the capabilities of a DXP are a big step up from a CMS so this is a decision that requires careful thought and analysis. It’s vital that your organisation will be able to take advantage of the more powerful features of a DXP as the investment can be significant.

In conclusion, both a CMS and a DXP have their unique functions and benefits. While a CMS primarily focuses on managing the core content of a web page separately from common elements, a DXP takes it a step further by delivering a tailored experience to users based on various inputs.

If we were using a DXP to manage this website we’d be able to include a personalised call-to-action at this point. What we show would vary based on signals such as: other pages you looked at, whether you clicked on a campaign link in social media to get here, or on what we know about you if you’d been able to log in. Whatever the case, it would have been more relevant and offered a better experience than this one-size-fits-all paragraph!

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