Digital Experience Platform vs Content Management System

When it comes to building a website you have a lot of decisions to make, like choosing a hosting plan or picking out a domain name. One of the most important choices you’ll make is the platform you use to build your website on.

There are a lot of options out there, each with different benefits for specific use cases, and the solution you choose should map back to the type of site you’re building, as well as your business’ unique needs.

In this post, we’ll introduce three of the most popular types of platforms for website building. Along the way, we’ll help you decide which is right for you. Let’s get started!

What Is a Content Management System (CMS)?

A Content Management System (CMS) is a way of enabling multiple users to collaborate on the same content. To do that, a CMS will provide a single central interface where all users can access, manage, and otherwise interact with data.

CMSs have a wide range of applications, in many industries. They’re not necessarily designed for building websites, although they can include that functionality. If you’re looking for a website-specific platform, you’ll likely want a Web Content Management System (WCM), as described in the next section.

The key features of a CMS include:

  • Easy content management and administration
  • Customization without the need for coding
  • Powerful publishing tools
  • Solid security (which can be further enhanced)


Standalone CMSs offer easy file-sharing and content management for companies.


Standalone CMSs lack the front-end interface of a WCM. By itself, a CMS is not built for managing a website.

Here are some examples of prominent CMSs:

What Is a Web Content Management System (WCM)?

Finally, a Web Content Management System (WCM) is a CMS that’s built for handling and publishing online content. The terms CMS and WCM are commonly confused, and you’ll often see ‘CMS’ used to refer to both.

WCMs are user-friendly tools, as they offer simple interfaces where non-coders can edit and add content to their sites. Of course, each one has its own pros and cons. We recommend WordPress, which is easy to use yet incredibly customizable. It’s beginner-friendly, but also contains powerful tools for developers who want to dive right in and build custom tools.

Plus, if you do know a little code, it’s easy to adjust a WCM to fit your needs. For example, in WordPress, you can add custom CSS through the theme customizer, to give your site a unique look.

The key features of a WCM include:


WCMs are very simple and easy to set up. If your business does not need the more complex features a DXP offers, a WCM is an excellent way to build and manage your website.


If you have multiple digital products, it can be harder to manage your content across the web using only a WCM. This can result in situations that confuse or frustrate customers.

Here are some examples of prominent WCMs:

What Is a Digital Experience Platform (DXP)?

Recently, combinations of WCM and CMS capabilities have begun to emerge as a relatively new offering called a Digital Experience Platform (DXP), which aims to integrate a broad range of information and applications across the customer lifecycle. A DXP is designed to help you do much more than just build a website. It’s meant to be a complete platform for managing your online content.

By using a DXP, you can avoid situations where there’s a disconnect between various parts of your business, such as your online and in-store inventories. That way, you won’t have customers ordering products online for in-store pickup that are no longer in stock (just to name one example). The goal of a DXP is to create a seamless experience across platforms, so all of your digital systems are in sync.

The key features of a DXP include:

  • Integration with various platforms
  • Enhanced performance
  • Automated migration
  • Multichannel publishing
  • Staging sites
  • The ability to copy sites


DXPs offer a complex suite of solutions, including cross-channel integration for multichannel publishing, the ability to manage inventory across various locations, and analytics tools that seamlessly integrate each of your digital products.


Although they offer many outstanding features, DXPs can come with a steeper learning curve than more basic platforms. To mitigate that problem, you can look for a DXP that offers 24-hour support.

Here are some examples of prominent DXPs:

Other Platforms

It’s also worth noting that there are other ways you can create and manage websites. They include:

  • Free website builders: Website builders such as and Squarespace are incredibly easy to get started with. However, they’re not very flexible, and don’t enable you to choose your own web host.
  • Pure HTML websites: If you’re familiar with HTML or willing to hire a developer, it’s possible to build your own website from scratch. This offers the utmost in flexibility. However, coding a website from scratch can be very expensive and time consuming.

Website builders are handy for small personal sites, but rarely provide everything a business will need. Creating a custom site, on the other hand, is only an option for those with very talented teams and/or generous budgets.

How Can a DXP, CMS, and WCM Work Together?

When done right, a CMS/WCM can work together as part of a DXP.

Hosting with WP Engine

WP Engine’s powerful hosting platform includes all the features of a DXP, as well as added tools such as managed security, the ability to transfer billing information to clients, and unlimited WordPress help from experts. It’s built on WordPress, which means you’ll also be able to use the platform that powers almost a third of the internet.

Contact us today for more information about WP Engine’s managed WordPress hosting platform or to get a custom quote!

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