Quick Guide to Understanding the Business Catalyst CMS

Quick Guide to Understanding the Business Catalyst CMS - blog post image
  • Gregg Christofferson
  • October 15, 2017
  • Comment(s) | 0
  • Posted 4 years ago

Your site has just launched! You are excited and enthusiastic about the site, that is until you log in to the back end to do some edits and maintenance.  Maybe you haven't had time to read the Business Catalyst User's Guide or watch our training videos.  You really want to make a few changes yourself, but all the sections in Business Catalyst can be a bit overwhelming at first.  What is the difference between pages and templates? What are modules and web apps? I understand how busy business owners can be, and with limited time to go into depth on the training and guides available, I thought many would find value in this quick and easy guide to Business Catalyst terminology to help you get up to speed quickly.


Every page normally will have a layout that includes a header, menu, sidebar, footer, etc.  Sometimes these elements are the same across several pages.  Those items are not unique to the page.  When we talk about pages in Business Catalyst, we are referring specifically to the body of the page that is unique to that page.  So you may have on your website an "About Us" page and a "Services" page.  Both of these pages may have identical headers, footers etc.  However, the body of each page will be unique.  One will talk about the company while the other talks about services.  So it is those unique sections that make up the page.


A template is the frame around the body. We mentioned that the body is unique and is referred to as the page.  The template then contains all the shared components like the header, footer, sidebar, etc.  Every page in Business Catalyst is associated with a template.  This makes updating the site very easy.  Say, for example that we want to add a web form in the footer of all the pages.  Well, instead of having to go to every page on the site and insert the form in the footer, we can do this once on the template and it will be reflected on all pages associated with that particular template.


Your website will include a main menu as well as perhaps menus in the sidebar, footer or elsewhere.  All of these menus are created in the menus section for easy updating.

Content Holders

Content holders are basically shared repositories of content that are used in several places throughout the website.  An example might be your company phone number.  Imagine that at some point your company changed phone numbers and you now need to update your website with a new phone number.  However, you realize that your phone number may be included in hundreds of different areas throughout your site, like in the headers, footers, thank you pages, web forms, contact page, etc.  Basically instead of hard coding the phone number into all these areas of the site, we would reference a content holder that contains the phone number.  This way, if the phone number ever did change, you could easily update it throughout the site in one place instead of having to find and edit every page or section that contains the phone number.

Modules and Web Apps

Business Catalyst comes shipped with modules that are predefined sections of your website with predefined functionality, such as your blog, events, photo galleries, etc.  On the other hand, Business Catalyst also has Web Apps.  Web Apps give us a way to build into your website a custom built module. For example, maybe your website contains a page with customer testimonials.  Well, Business Catalyst doesn't come with a pre-built module for testimonials, but we can build a custom module, or Web App for adding testimonials to your website.

Layouts/Module Templates

We discussed how templates are basically the frame around the body of the page that contain all the shared elements across various pages.  Module Templates are basically the same thing, except they are for the modules or web apps.  Every web app has two different layouts. A list view and a detail view.  What is a list view?  Well, let's imagine again that you have a web app for entering listings on your real estate website.  Within the web app you enter the information regarding the listing like listing title, price, bonus, description, images, address, contact etc.. Now on the front end of the site, you may have a page that lists all the listings available that you have entered as web app items.  Well, the list layout may be designed to display only the title, price and image as a thumbnail for the listing and they are displayed on the page in a list, thus, the name list layout.  But now if you click on one of the listings in the list, you will be taken to the detail layout that will display the details of just that one web app item.  The detail layout might now include the title, large image, price, description, address and contact.  So layouts control how the web app items are displayed on the front end as a list, and then individually when clicked in the detail layout.

BC Apps

Web developers can add on functionality to your website through BC Apps downloadable for your website from the BC App store.  These apps are very comparable to WordPress's Plugins.  Some of my favorite apps on the App store right now are the Landing Page Builder which offer a simple way to build an unlimited number of responsive landing pages.  This is great for building sales funnels for your products very easily.  This is an ideal solution as opposed to paying for a subscription to something like ClickFunnels because of BC's built in CRM and email marketing, there is no need for expensive integrations.  The only thing lacking at this point is a way to easily split test landing pages and there aren't many templates to choose from yet. But, I still highly recommend it.

That pretty much covers the main sections of your CMS that you'll use most.  Hopefully this quick guide will get you up and running quickly when it comes to making edits to your website.



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