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Web CMS glossary: Demystifying the CMS terms

Kaya Ismail
Try Storyblok

Storyblok is the first headless CMS that works for developers & marketers alike.

There are so many terms to learn when it comes to the web CMS space. It is a complex industry with its own jargon, acronyms, and buzzwords. Although web content management systems (CMSs) have been around for decades, the technology continues to evolve and advance at a rapid pace.

In fact, we're now in an age where some sort of CMS powers most websites due to their cost-effectiveness and flexibility. So many companies are making a move to web content management that it's easy for even experienced marketers and business owners to feel left out of the loop.

Section titled A

Application Program Interface (API)

An application programming interface (API) is an interface that defines interactions between multiple software applications. These interactions —or "calls"— follow a specific set of rules and can be extended by the user to add functionalities. APIs enable applications to communicate with the server and different channels.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP is an open source HTML framework developed by Google. AMP optimizes mobile web browsing and helps pages load faster. AMP pages can be cached by a CDN, which helps websites load faster.

Section titled B

Best-of-breed software

Best-of-breed is an approach to building modular, interoperable technology stacks. Best-of-breed systems use the best software solution available for each of their needs. This means that a company can select a CMS to organize content, an eCommerce platform to handle the store, and a website builder to create the store.

Section titled C

Content management system (CMS)

Most people are familiar with content management systems like WordPress. At its simplest, a CMS is a content repository where all the content is stored and managed. A CMS is the backbone of your operations as it helps centralize information and serves as a hub to connect every system in your organization.

Content delivery network (CDN)

A content delivery network —also called content distribution network (CDN), is a geographically distributed network of proxy servers and data centers. A CDN enables a quick transfer of assets needed for loading content. Today, the majority of well-performing sites are served through CDNs.

Customer experience platform (CXP)

A customer experience platform enables companies to measure and manage digital experiences. It helps with the collection of customer preferences and other relevant data so that the customer experience can be optimized for them.

Section titled D

Digital asset management (DAM)

A digital asset is every piece of data your company is allowed to use. Digital asset management is the process of storing and rendering rich media for both administrative and operational tasks. DAM allows users to search for every piece of information and establish permissions to protect their information from cyber attacks.

Digital experience platform (DXP)

A DXP is a piece of technology that incorporates elements of a CMS and provides users with an extendable centralized hub that can be enhanced with other services to improve the creation, management, and delivery of digital experiences across different platforms and devices. DXPs are especially important for omnichannel marketing initiatives.

Section titled E


eCommerce — also known as electronic commerce or internet commerce— refers to buying and selling goods and services using the internet to complete purchases and transfer money and data. While eCommerce is often equated with online retail, it refers to every transaction of goods and services on the internet.

Section titled G


GraphQL is a query language for your APIs. It is a server-side runtime tool for executing queries that uses a type system you define. The benefit of GraphQL is that it isn't tied to any specific database or store engine and your existing data back that. A GraphQL can be created and defined by defining types and fields, then providing functions for each field on each type.

Section titled H

Headless CMS

A headless CMS has no default front-end, leaving it to be customizable for content creators to determine how they want to present their content to their audiences. In other words, imagine a traditional CMS is a body, where the “head” would be the front-end layer (meaning the template and framework), thus a headless CMS.

Hybrid content management system

A hybrid CMS combines the simplified ease of use of a traditional CMS and a headless CMS's omnichannel delivery capabilities. A hybrid CMS is oriented towards non-technical users while at the same time catering to developers and IT teams. A hybrid CMS usually has templates and a visual editor that simplifies content creation and delivery.

Section titled I


In the context of software development, interoperability is the capability a software solution has of starting from a common base or feature set and being able to extend that functionality over time without losing the functionalities that composed the feature in the first place.

Intranet portal

An intranet is a communication network that can be used to improve communication, collaboration, and engagement within a company. An intranet portal is where workers can come together and get information about the company. It includes a centralized knowledge base, personalized information for every worker to increase productivity and proactivity.

Section titled J


Jamstack is a term initially coined by Netlify and refers to a modern web development architecture based on three key components. JavaScript, APIs, and Markup. Just like other tech stacks like LAMP combine complementary pieces, the 'JAM' in Jamstack refers to its three components. JavaScript handles the dynamic functionality of websites, APIs handle server-side functionality, and websites serve markup files at build time to reduce time to paint.

JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)

JSON is a data-interchange format that's easy for humans to read and write; it's also easy for machines to parse and generate. JSON uses language and naming conventions that are familiar to every developer of the C family of programming languages, making it an ideal data-interchange format.

Section titled K

Knowledge management

Knowledge management is the process of capturing, distributing, and managing company information. Knowledge management centralizes all your data and makes it accessible to every person in your company. Knowledge management is beneficial for organizations with large and dispersed amounts of data.

Section titled L


Localization is the practice of translating and adapting content, so it is suitable for different audiences, even to those who seemingly speak the same language. For example, marketers can localize British content for American audiences or Spanish content for Mexican audiences and vice versa to ensure that they get the message and benefits from the content.

Section titled M

Marketing automation

Marketing automation is a subset of automation technologies that enhance marketing practices and improve marketing initiatives' effectiveness across channels and devices. Marketing automation enables companies to streamline their processes and ensure a better buyer journey across every touchpoint.

Microservice architecture

Microservices architecture is a software architecture style that structures an application as a collection of services. This architecture enables the rapid and reliable delivery of large, complex applications in a modular form, enabling developers to evolve their technology stack with ease.

Mobile CMS

A CMS for managing mobile apps and experiences. This means managing the content used on a native mobile app and for websites specially optimized for mobile experiences. For example, if you have an online shop and sell your products through an app, all the product information and everything else that shapes your storefront will be managed through a CMS.

Section titled N


NoCode development is a software development architecture that allows programmers to build applications and software tools using a graphical user interface and configuration instead of traditional computer programming techniques. NoCode includes building workflows and automation with ease to improve business processes.

Section titled O

Omnichannel marketing

Omnichannel marketing is a marketing technique that focuses on creating a seamless customer experience across every channel. Unlike multichannel marketing where you send the same content to multiple devices, omnichannel creates a single journey across multiple devices to offer continuous interactions and personalized marketing experiences.

Online shopping

Online shopping is a form of electronic commerce where customers can purchase goods or services from a seller over the internet using a web browser or a mobile app.

Section titled P

Payment gateway

A payment gateway is a service that an eCommerce store provides where a third-party merchant authorizes credit card transactions or direct payments for an eCommerce store. Payment gateways aren't restricted to eCommerce stores and can be used by hybrid retailers and brick-and-mortar shops.

Progressive Web App (PWA)

A PWA is a type of application that works just like a regular application, but it's served through the web, and it's built using common web technologies and code like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The benefit of PWAs is that they can work on any browser, including desktop and mobile, which means that users get an app-like experience within their browser.


Personalization is the practice of using data to deliver personalized messages to an individual prospect. Personalization differs from traditional marketing because it emphasizes the quality of the interaction over the quantity of people reached. As the amount of data marketers can get from customers grows, personalization will become increasingly important in the marketing landscape.

Section titled R

Responsive design

Responsive design is a design approach that considers that design and development practices should adapt and respond to the users' behavior and devices; that means that the way websites are presented needs to change based on the screen size, platform, and orientation of the screen the user has. The main points of a responsive design are fluid grids, CSS media queries, and flexible media.

Representational state transfer (REST)

REST is a software architecture style that uses a subset of HTTP to create interactive applications. REST isn't a protocol or a standard; instead, it is a set of constraints that enables developers to program software in a particular way and transfer information in a language-agnostic manner that's readable both by humans and machines using JSON.

Section titled S

Single-page Application (SPA)

An SPA is a single webpage that acts as an application because even after the user refreshes or scrolls, most of the information stays the same, and only a limited number of elements change and are updated at a time. For instance, when you browse through Gmail, parts of your page remain unchanged because the SPA only renders what you need with each click.

Section titled T

Traditional CMS

A traditional CMS, like WordPress or Drupal, is a CMS where the frontend and the backend are coupled, which means that the way you present your content is linked to the database, and you can only present content following the rules and norms that the CMS has in place. Traditional CMSs usually use templates to help users build digital content.


In software development, taxonomy is the formal structure of classes and types of objects within a domain. Taxonomy organizes knowledge using a particular vocabulary that makes things easier to find using related information. Taxonomy enables the organization of data into categories and displays it in a sitemap for easier access.

Section titled U

User experience (UX)

User experience is the way a user or visitor interacts with a website or app. The experience is the attitude and behavior a person has towards a specific software product and system. It measures how users feel about the product and how well they perceive said experience.

Section titled V

Version Control

Version control is a system that records every change to a file or folder over a period of time so a user can recall a specific version of that file at a later date, preventing other users from doing destructive editing or retrieving lost data after someone rewrote that information.

Visual Editor

A visual editor enables content editors to edit website content and get contextual previews of how the website is looking after each edit. The visual editor solves native content previewing, which is one of the main issues most headless CMS users face when building digital experiences.

Section titled W


A web CMS is similar to a hybrid CMS because it allows non-technical users to create and publish content without an in-depth knowledge of CMS infrastructure or code. Web CMSs are cloud-based and don't require on-premise hosting or installation, and can be used by different people as long as they have an internet connection and a web browser.

Web Analytics

Web analytics refers to the gathering, analysis, and reporting of website data. Web analytics focuses on identifying trends and patterns based on both your organization and user goals. Web analytics use website data to determine how successful the website is and how well it is accomplishing its goals. Proper handling of web analytics can drive strategy to enhance the user's experience.

Section titled X

XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap is your website's roadmap. It helps search engines find every page on your website. Having a good sitemap can work wonders for your SEO as it allows search engines to find all the essential information within your pages.

Section titled Keeping up with new CMS terminology with Storyblok

For newbies and experienced campaigners alike, the CMS landscape can at times be incredibly overwhelming, but it shouldn't be. This CMS glossary will help you make sense of all these abbreviations and phrases thrown around in online discussions about content management systems.

For more information about CMS terminology and trends, take a look at the content on our blog.

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