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The History of the HubSpot CMS

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On August 6, 1991 (28 years ago), Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the first website and introduced the World Wide Web. In 1992, one year later, the number of websites increased by 900%, to ten. As of August 2019, there are over 1.7 billion websites online. 

With the number of websites growing daily, it's more important than ever to have a solid online presence. In addition, with content playing a major role of every website, it's a must to find a content management system (CMS) that gives you advanced functionality and allows you to showcase your brand with ease.

As HubSpot experts and users of the HubSpot CMS, we thought it would be super interesting to dive into CMS' history, future, migration process, features and benefits, pricing and common concerns, to understand its evolution.

We couldn't think of anyone better to have a chat with than the infamous web design guru, Luke SummerfieldGo to Market Lead, Web and CMS at HubSpot

In this blog, we start at the beginning and review the history of the HubSpot CMS. This is the second post in the series.

We hope you enjoy! 

The HubSpot CMS Version 1 

Luke Summerfield has a long, eclectic history with the HubSpot CMS... they go WAY back. 

Luke Summerfield_HubSpot CMS


Before he started working at HubSpot in December 2014, his web expertise was gracing the former digital agency (Savvy Panda) with its presence, and they were using what HubSpot called the CMS version 1.

It was pretty basic, but it did what it was supposed to do really well, helping marketers (non-coders) manage a website.

Though for anyone who used this content management system, there was a lot to be desired. From its features to its name. It was originally called the HubSpot COS (Content Optimization System) with the intention of focusing on the importance of not just managing content, but always improving and optimizing it.

The name confused enough people that they eventually decided to change it to what it is today: HubSpot CMS.

Around October 2014, Savvy Panda was acquired and after helping out with the transition, Luke jumped ship to HubSpot. He started off as a program manager, then founded Growth Driven Design (an internal startup focused on transforming how websites are built and optimized), to his present role of assisting the HubSpot CMS product team and growing programs and products that solve developer challenges. 


"It was fascinating to be on the other side of the fence now, not only helping agencies and their clients use the platform, but also getting to witness how the product was developed and being evolved" - Luke Summerfield


The HubSpot CMS V2 & 3

Fast forward to 2012, when the CMS was relaunced as a part of HubSpot's big "HubSpot 3", it resembled a lot more of what you see today.

At this time, HubSpot had grand plans and really good product vision, as they recognized the power of being able to connect the HubSpot CMS  to contact records in the HubSpot CRM (Content Relationship Management).

All of a sudden, you could create really dynamic website and landing pages. This lead to the development of personalization and Smart Content tools that allow you to alter the way your content displays depending on specific viewer properties in your CRM. Now you could show the most relevant message to each of your visitors for a true relationship-driven marketing experience.


Hubspot CMS_Smart Content


The HubSpot CMS in 2016

Fast forward again to 2016... Luke explains that this is where a lot of interesting things started to happen with the HubSpot CMS.

Although it was still fairly easy to use, the experience still didn't flow exactly how they envisioned. They were trying to build one tool that would make both marketers and developers happy - the result was an 'ok' job at both. They realized they needed to pivot and create totally separate experiences and tools for each group.


"The problem with this was, I think we kind of missed the mark and didn't do either one very well, and we were missing key functionality." - Luke Summerfield


So it was time to switch things up and they started with some of the items below:

  • Building dynamic page content using HubSpot's simple database system - "HubDB" and the HubDB APIs.
  • Moving from the CMS being an add-on to the marketing tools, to allow customers to purchase the HubSpot CMS as a stand-alone product.
  • Allowing for member login and restricted content using HubSpot's "Memberships" tool (bundled in the Enterprise Hubs)



Next, they went to work on restructuring their product teams and the experiences they would create.

  1. The first team that was developed was 100% focused on the marketer experience: ease of use, giving them the flexibility they needed to get their jobs done.

  2. Then a second, completely separate team was created to only focus on the developer experience, and to really live and breathe in a world where all they see is code.

Moving forward, Luke said they are looking to improve functionality for larger companies who have complex websites and more advanced IT/CTO requirements.


The HubSpot CMS of Today

So now in 2019, there's a lot of people doing a lot of hard work. HubSpot has a very large team totally focused on building content tools.

Progress is being made.

It's getting easier for marketers and the developer experience is improving with some of the new design manager tools, but one of the things that Luke said they were still hearing constructive feedback on was that people wanted a stand-alone CMS offer for things like:

  • A separate website for another project, division or franchise;
  • An event;
  • Or maybe they just wanted something simple and weren't ready for all the fancy automation features that HubSpot is known for

Backtrack to before Inbound 2018. You had to buy the marketing tools. Then you had to add on the CMS, and it was kind of buried under everything else.

Well, users spoke and HubSpot listened.

So at Inbound 2018, they released it: a fully integrated CMS that goes far beyond content management. Now you have the ability to add on features when you are ready for them in the future. In addition, you not only get the CMS, but you also get the HubSpot CRM packaged with it for FREE.

This was a game-changer. 

Hubspot CMS_image

The HubSpot CMS + CRM

"The way to build a great web experience that converts is all about tailoring the experience for the individual" - Luke Summerfield


This was the mindset at HubSpot from the very beginning, which is why they knew it was important to eventually couple the CMS tightly with the CRM and the other free tools they offered.

This means that as a marketer, you have all the data that's going into your CRM: pages viewed, clicks, downloads, funnel stages, contact owner, and a lot of other really rich data to help you make impactful improvements on a website and actually tailor the experience.

These two tools working together are the marketing dream team you've always wanted.

This means you now have all your lead and customer data in the same place as your website, so you can easily leverage it to personalize communications and content to them through email, your blog, your social media channels, and more. 



Again, we want to thank Luke Summerfield for this insightful chat about the roots of the HubSpot content management system.

Stay tuned to learn everything you need to know about the HubSpot CMS.

Upcoming posts and content will include an in-depth look at the migration process, the content management features and benefits, pricing and common concerns about the system. 

Do you want to learn more about the HubSpot CMS?

Check out another blog we've written called, 'All About the HubSpot CMS: The Content Management System for Professionals' by clicking the button below.

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