Website files through CMS
What if you can have a system to work with your files that's like a control panel but is more customized and gives you more options like changing your site's theme?
This type of system is called a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is installed on your web server and lets you manage the contents of your website through it's interface.
The CMS stores the content of a website in a database and accesses the database to display the content when it is requested by website visitors.
A CMS differs from a control panel - in a control panel you are working with actual files, in a CMS you are working with data from a database that appears on pages when it is requested, also with a CMS there are other features available unlike a control panel where you can only work with files.
The number of features varies from CMS to CMS. Here are some feature's you can find in CMS's:
Working with content
The core feature of a CMS. You can do all kinds of operations like edit content, delete content, add new content, and more.
Change site theme
You can easily change your site's theme with the click of a few buttons. One moment your site will have one theme and the next moment it can look totally different.
You can display how many visitors are currently browing your site.
You can display polls asking your visitors to vote on something and then show the results in real time.
Which CMS is right for me?
That is a great question. It depends on things like what you plan on using your website for (blog, regular site), how big the site is going to be (2, 5, 500 pages), how many people are going to work on it (just you, a few other people), and other factors regarding the logistics and functionality behind a website. Do some research, ask questions (email the people behind the CMS, ask around in forums), look through CMS's features list and compare it to your needs, test out a few CMS's to see what works for you.
Here are some CMS's you can use for regular sites (non-blogs):
If you're going to run a blog site then your best bet is WordPress. WordPress is a blogging CMS specially designed for blogs. You will find it is very practical and very easy to use. WordPress is the most popular CMS used for blogs and for good reason! It really is great.
Other blog CMS's:
Installing the CMS
You can install a CMS the point-and-click way or the manual way.
CMS point-and-click install
Install a CMS through fantastico (if your web host provides it). In Cpanel to access fantastico - log in to your control panel and click on the 'Fantastico' link under the 'Software' heading. Find the CMS you want to install in the list of software and follow the rest of the on-screen instructions.
CMS manual install
To manually install a CMS you will have to follow the installation instructions for that particular CMS. The installation instructions can usually be found inside the folder that holds all the CMS's files. It's usually a file called 'readme' or 'install'
Upload the CMS files to your web server space through FTP and follow the installation instructions. There won't be too much to do..the installation will involve (more or less) setting up a database, tweaking a few options, setting some file permissions, and running a test to see if it works.
Using the CMS
Go to your CMS login page (during the installation you should have been instructed what the URL of the login page is). Enter your username and password that you set (or that was provided to you) during the installation.
Once you're logged in, you're good to go! You are ready to do whatever it is you need to do for your website. Create some content, set the website theme, see what it looks like, create some more content, delete some content. It's your website, do what you want with it!