DXP vs. CMS: What’s the Difference?

4 min readMar 16, 2022


Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

One of the more confusing modern technology concepts centers around content management platforms. Traditionally, people have referred to systems that manage content as, simply, content management systems (CMS). But then along came digital experience platforms (DXP), which also manage content.

So what’s the difference between a traditional CMS and a DXP?

To make a long story short, a DXP is a CMS. But a DXP has architecture and features that allow it to manage content in much more sophisticated ways. The best description of a DXP is a content management system that has evolved to meet the needs of modern content operations teams and the businesses they support. The differences between a CMS and DXP are rooted in the changes in the types of content people consume and how they use the web.

What is a CMS?

Content management systems manage content. Pretty simple, right? To be more precise, a CMS is a way to allow users to author, review, and publish content to a website. This simple explanation doesn’t really do content management systems justice, however.

The more interesting question is why do content management systems exist? By exploring this, the evolution of the DXP makes more sense.

The history of the CMS

Content management systems were initially developed in the earliest days of the world wide web when sites became too large to edit pages with HTML authoring tools manually. This era is often referred to as Web 1.0. Multiple teams of people were working on these sites simultaneously. Eventually, managing who was working on what became far too complex and inefficient.

The solution to these problems was to create systems to store content in databases, and access to authoring, reviewing, and permissions could control publishing. These systems used application logic to transform text to HTML via templates and enabled sites to grow and scale. These types of content management systems solved the problem of managing content by applying governance to publishing and the user experience.

From Sites to Experiences

As advancements in web technology created richer, more dynamic user experiences, people began using the web in new ways. Blogs, social media, and e-commerce websites became mainstream, creating, sharing, and distributing content across platforms. The web began to be a critical channel for businesses. This era is referred to as Web 2.0. It culminated with the introduction of the smartphone and the mobile web.

Instead of text or an image living on a single web page, an application might also utilize them in an application. Then there were new things like kiosks, internet appliances, games, and other ways to deliver content. These experiences began to be managed and supported by data-driven systems, like personalization engines and search applications.

For businesses, this digitization trend has made content a priority of IT, product, and marketing teams. These teams began needing more flexible ways to manage workflow, integrate systems, and deliver content to users across all places people interact with content.

The challenge was no longer managing content but managing content across experiences. The modern digital experience platform addresses this challenge.

How are DXPs different?

Digital experience platforms take advantage of numerous technology advancements to provide flexibility in managing content.

The following attributes are common across best-in-class DXPs:

  • They utilize microservices and APIs to facilitate integrations and webhooks into a wide variety of web services
  • They are composable systems meaning that a modern DXP can be configured with features tailored to an organization’s unique needs.
  • They facilitate headless deployments, which separate content from its delivery and publish it to experiences beyond websites.

DXPs that support the above capabilities are known as MACH systems (Microservices, APIs, Composable, and Headless).

A modern DXP can do everything a legacy content management system does with no problem. But it also has options to tailor it to an organization’s particular needs and the ever-expanding group of digital experiences they are required to support.

DXP Opportunities and Benefits

The ability of a modern DXP to be extended creates a platform that can adapt and scale far beyond a traditional database-driven CMS. In the past, expanding into a new category like ecommerce or supporting a new application required managing content on different systems. It burdened teams with an ever-increasing number of web platforms to support. However, with DXPs, that burden is lifted as they integrate and extend with minimal technical support.

DXPs make it possible to manage apps, intranets, and multiple websites on different domains from one digital experience platform. Additionally, they allow for the efficiently repurposing of content across various experiences.

In summary, think of a DXP as a CMS with the flexibility to manage, govern, and publish content in a way that’s customizable to an organization’s specific needs. A DXP is an evolution of a CMS, and implementing one ensures your organization can address the content operations requirements of today and tomorrow.

Original post found here.

Authored by Joel Swenson:

Joel’s writing career has its roots in his childhood. Growing up, if he didn’t have his nose in a book, he could be found penning short stories and bootleg comics for friends. Joel joined MentorMate after nearly a decade in the bicycle industry where he worked as a Copywriter across multiple brand teams. He brings a wealth of experience crafting brand voices, writing blogs, and producing video content. When he’s not writing, you’ll likely find him biking, attempting to make the perfect ravioli, and/or scheming camping trips to remote places around the world.




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