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Digital experiences and content management systems. Two terms that surface a lot when we talk about how businesses can optimize their digital presence.

But what’s the difference between them? And what role can they both play in growing your business?

What Are Digital Experiences?

From your eCommerce shop and landing page to your company website and chatbots, a digital experience encompasses all the ways your customers and team engage with your digital content.

Created and managed using a CMS, digital experiences form an important part of the customer journey. It affects how people shop, browse, and connect with your business—both online and offline.

Remind Me Again: What’s a CMS?

The official definition of a CMS is “a software system that manages and organizes digital content for presenting to a website.”

In other words, if digital experiences are the end user encounters, a CMS is the toolbox that lets you build these in the first place.

See also: What Is Composable CMS?

Why Do We Separate the Two Concepts?

As a business, you can produce loads of different digital solutions, both for your customers and employees. Put them together, and they should create holistic digital experiences that’s streamlined, smooth, and compelling.

A CMS, on the other hand, is the motor that creates these experiences. Digital experiences are the car, the trip, the adventure. The CSM is the engine beneath the hood, enabling all the rest.

Why Is a CMS the Engine Behind It All?

It all starts with content. Ranging from blog posts and product descriptions to website apps and images, these different types of content extend across every touchpoint in the customer journey. They form the building blocks of your digital experiences.

It’s a content management system’s job to create, modify and manage these types of content. Like an engine, it powers all of the moving parts that go into engaging digital experiences.

Read more: The Reasons Why Your Digital Projects Are Slow »

Examples of Digital Experiences

Holistic digital experiences stretches across a number of touchpoints, and includes components like:

  • Website – the heart of your digital experiences, an optimized website will contain responsive and fresh content and services that are easy to navigate and manage.
  • Intranet – your company’s intranet might only be available to staff, but it still plays an important role in holistic digital experiences.
  • Apps – apps and PWAs offer extra functionality and interactive content that further enrich the customer journey.
  • Chatbots – AI-powered chatbots can optimize digital experiences for customers and staff by offering convenient customer support.
  • eCommerce – for businesses with an online shop or booking process, a streamlined eCommerce platform is an important element in their digital experiences.
  • Beacons – forming part of a omnichannel experience, beacons are becoming a useful tool in location-based marketing.
  • IoT (Internet of Things) – with devices becoming smarter and more connected, IoT have begun to form an important part of digital experiences.
  • Social media – even though you have no control over the design and workings of a social media platform, the presence there is still a part of your total digital experiences toward your audience. You should make sure that your social media accounts follow brand guidelines, tone of voice, etc.

But What Is a Digital Experience Platform?

When reading about digital experiences, you might have seen the term "digital experience platform," or "DXP," thrown into the mix. Don’t worry, this isn’t another new concept to wrap your head around.

Forrester defines a DXP as “software to manage, deliver, and optimize experiences consistently across every digital touchpoint”. In essence, it’s a term for a specified CMS type.

A CMS can be heavy, light, in-house, or cloud-based. A DXP is specifically a monolith, a traditional behemoth content management system with baked in marketing functions for everything between heaven and earth—like analytics, A/B testing, and SEO optimization.

See also: Reasons to Make Your CMS the Hub for Your Digital Experiences »


The difference between digital experiences and CMS is simple: while the latter is the engine, the former is the end user solution. And really, it’s almost impossible to have one without the other. Whether your digital experiences consist of a simple website or beacons, IoT and chatbots, a CMS is the toolbox that makes it the best it can be.

Guide: How to Future Proof Your Digital Experiences

First published 5 September 2018, updated on 17 February 2024.

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